Camera Filters Explained for Beginners
A filter is one of the important photography accessories, especially for a landscape photographer. There are different types of camera filters available in the market. Each of these camera filters is designed to do a specific job. They come in different shapes and sizes.
If you are a beginner in photography, it is essential to know the different filter options for your camera. Furthermore, it will help you select the right camera filter for your type of photography. In this guide, we will look at all the popular camera filters for photography.
What Does a Camera Filter Do? 🤔
The primary purpose of a camera filter is to modify the light entering the camera. Some filters are capable of blocking the amount of light.
In addition, certain types of camera filters have the capability of blocking particular wavelengths of light. Camera filters are made up of plastic, glass, or resin.
Popular Camera Filter Types 😎
1. Circular Polarizer (CPL) Filter
CPL or Circular Polarizer Filter helps to reduce glare from reflective surfaces like glass and water. In addition, it helps bring more saturation to the scene if you position your camera in the right direction.
2. Neutral Density (ND) Filter
A neutral density filter helps to block some amount of light from entering the camera. It is a dark filter.
Multiple types of ND filters are there. It includes ND2, ND4, ND6, ND8, etc.
An ND4 filter can block double the amount of light compared to an ND2 filter. Darker the ND filter, the more light it will be blocking.
3. Graduated Neutral Density (GND) Filter
The graduated ND filter will have a dark section on one part. As we move to the other section, this darkness reduces, and it will gradually become clear.
It is also known as grad ND filter
It is useful for exposing the sky properly in the image. The dark portion helps to block the extra light.
4. Ultra Violet (UV) Filter
A UV filter helps to block the Ultraviolet rays from entering the camera. It also helps to protect the front element of the lens from scratches.
5. Infrared (IR) Filter
The purpose of using an Infrared Filter is to expose an image to Infrared light. These are light waves that come below the visible spectrum.
This spectrum of light is not visible to human eyes. So, you can expect entirely different colors on the objects in the scene in your final image.
6. FLD Filter
FLD filter is a conversion filter that helps fix the camera’s white balance issues due to fluorescent lights in the scene. You can use FLD filters if you use a film camera for photography.
Now, you know the functions of each of these camera filters.
If you don’t have the budget to invest in filters, you can use the filters in your post-processing tools like Adobe Photoshop.
But you will get better images when you use the physical filters. Some filters, like the CPL filter, are not available in post-processing tools.
You can get filters for all types of cameras. It includes DSLR, Mirrorless, Drone, Action camera, etc.
Camera Filter Buying Guide
If you are a beginner in photography, you may not know the camera filters you need to buy. Don’t worry. I will help you pick the right filters.
1. Which Filter Should I Buy?
Whether you have a DSLR, Mirrorless, or digital camera, I recommend buying a UV filter.
It will help to protect the front element of your camera lens. If you drop your camera accidentally or scratch against any surface, there is a chance that the front element of your lens may get scratched or broken.
So, you will have to repair or replace it, which is costly.
So, buying and attaching a UV filter in front of your camera lens is a better option.
It will be the filter that gets damaged or scratched in most situations when you drop the camera.
👉🏻 NOTE: The filter can only protect the front glass of the camera lens to an extent.
If you are into landscape photography, it is good to get an ND filter, a Grad ND filter, and a CPL filter.
You can use ND filters or a variable ND filter if you are shooting videos.
2. Is there Any Size for the Filter?
There are two types of camera filters available in the market. You can see them below.
2.1 Circular Filters with Fixed thread size
If you use fixed thread size filters, you need to buy separate filters for each lens you use since the thread size of the lenses is different. It is the case with an interchangeable lens camera.
The lens system is permanently attached to the camera body for a regular digital camera. So, you can use all types of filters for the given thread size.
You can check your camera manual to know the filter thread size.
However, some digital cameras do not come with any thread for the filters. You can check the internet for available filters and adapters for such cameras.
If you are interested in using the CPL filter, you must use the circular filters. It is because you need to rotate the polariser disc in the filter to polarize the incoming light. It is possible only with circular-shaped filters.
2.2 Rectangular and Square Filters with Mounting systems
You must buy appropriate mounting systems if you plan to use rectangular or square filters.
You must first attach these mounting systems in front of the camera lens. Then, you can slide the different filters into it.
If you plan to use a Grad ND filter, you need a rectangular or square shape filter.
3. Which Material is Best for Camera Filters?
You can get filters made of plastic as well as glass.
However, if you check the price for both these filters, you will find that filters made of plastic are cheaper than glass ones.
So, you might be tempted to go for the plastic ones.
But, believe me, it will reduce the quality of the final image. You are bringing a plastic element in front of the light entering the camera.
It will affect the quality of the light. So, always go for glass filters instead of plastic.
4. Which are the Best Camera Filter Brands?
There are many camera filter manufacturers out there. You may find it challenging to select the best brand among them.
Some of the best filter brands include Hoya, Kolari, K&F Concept, Lee, & Tiffen.
You can consider these brands when you buy a camera filter.
Camera Filters FAQ
1. Is It Possible to Stack Camera Filters?
Yes, you can stack camera filters one above the other.
For example, if you use a circular filter, you need to thread one filter on top of the other. The mounting system will have multiple slots if you use a rectangular/ square filter.
Thus, you can slide in different filters on these different slots.
2. Is it Possible to Use the Same Camera Filter on Different Lenses?
Normally, it is not possible to use the same camera filter on multiple lenses.
It is because of the reason that different camera lenses come with different filter thread sizes. So, you will be unable to fix the filter on multiple lenses.
But there are ways by which you can use one camera filter on multiple lenses.
You need to invest in a step-up or step-down ring to make it work.