Photographers use camera lens filters to protect their lenses from dust, smudges, and scratches. However, that’s not the only use of the camera filters.
Professionals use camera filters to enhance the quality of an image, change its look and tell a story in a different mood and era.
Using camera filters instantly changes how an image looks. Each camera lens filter is used for different purposes and offers different quality – better indeed.
Though, it’s not always easy to understand its uses, especially if you’re a beginner. I’ve tried my best to get lens filters explained in an easy and understandable way – So, let’s begin.
Why Should I Use A Filter On My Camera Lens?
You should be using camera lens filters for the following reason:
1. Your Lens is Protected
The primary benefit you’re giving to your lens by using camera lens filters is protection.
Of course, your lens will be protected from dust, scratches, and smudges, but if you’re using a UV filter, your lens will also be protected from the sun.
This proves to be highly beneficial when you’re shooting outdoors in sunlight on a beach or some other place. It doesn’t let your lens degrade due to harsh UV rays.
2. You get a Perfect Exposure
There are several times when you’re working with complicated lighting conditions. Using camera filters can flawlessly help you achieve an even and accurate exposure for your entire image.
What camera filters do here is that block some of the unwanted light entering the lens. Again, if you’re shooting outside, this turns out to be an amazing option, even when the fast shutter speed fails to avoid overexposure.
3. Your Colors are altered and enhanced
Camera filters come in different colors and shapes that I’ll be explaining further. These can correct or pop up the colors in your photos.
Some lens filters work pretty well at enhancing the colors and contrast for a more vibrant photo and others can alter the color temperature of a scene.
You can capture a single scene in different colors and give it a different vision with each change of filter.
4. You tell a Different Story each time
From black & white to vintage to polarized, you can play and experiment with different lens filters.
Being a photographer, you must be in touch with the fact that every picture tells a story, and camera filters just allow you to create different ones each time.
With lens filters you can create more vivid colors, enhance the contrast, avoid reflections from glassy surfaces, eliminate glare, and much more.
What Camera Filters Do I Need For My Lens?
There are many different kinds of filters you can use for your lens:
1. Neutral Density Filters (ND)
Neutral density camera filters are used to reduce the amount of light entering the lens. It’s very helpful in situations when increased aperture must be used to avoid overexposure or motion blur that needs to be created while capturing moving objects, people, rivers, etc.
You may use this camera filter while performing flash or landscape photography. This filter generally transits from dark to clear towards the center.
2. Clear/Haze/UV filter
These filters do the basic work of protecting the lens from dust, scratches, and moisture. As the name suggests, UV filters are used to protect the lens from harsh UV rays. These can be mounted permanently over your camera lens for all-time protection.
3. Cooling/Warming/Color filter
These filters are helpful in correcting colors, thus, resulting in a change in the camera’s white balance.
Cooling and Warming color filters can basically be used to add or block colors, or even create a new color with a mix of both original and colored lens views.
Though, most photographers do not use such filters now in Digital Photography as you may get this effect created by a professional photo retouching and photo editing service for post-production.
4. Polarizing Filter
Polarizing camera filter filters out polarized light. It dramatically enhances colors, increases contrast, and reduces reflections. These are generally round in shape and can be used for any kind of photography.
5. Close-Up Filter
The Close-up filter AKA diopter is used to focus closer on the surface. This camera lens filter is particularly useful for macro photography and close-up shots.
6. Soft-edged Graduated Neutral Density
GND filters are used in conditions where contrast is high and where the horizon is not flat. The soft edge permits smoother transitions.
You can use such filters for landscape photography. These are generally rectangular and used with holders.
7. Hard-edged Graduated Neutral Density filter
HDN filters are basically used in high contrast conditions where the horizon is flat and the sky is brighter than the foreground. These are always rectangular and used with camera filter holders.
8. Reverse Graduated Neutral Density filter
This filter is a specialized filter used for landscape photography. You should use it while shooting against the sun as it is set close to the horizon, it’ll give you a beautiful effect.
Unlike the GND filter, the Reverse GND filter transits from dark to less dark from the middle to the edge.
9. Special Effects filters
Special effects filters are of different kinds such as:
- Star filters – They make bright objects look star-like
- Diffusion filters – These lens filters create softening, ‘dreamy’ effect used for portraits
- Multi-vision filters – used to create multiple copies of a subject
- Infrared filters – used to block infrared and let the visible light pass
- Bokeh filters – These filters are amazing. They have a specific shape cut at the center of the filter that makes bokeh highlights of the same shape.
What Are The Different Shapes Of Camera Lens Filters?
There are mainly 4 types of camera filter shapes.
Square filters are usually used with a camera lens filter holder that is mounted on the front of the lens. It is popularly used for landscape photography.
Rectangular camera filt6ers are another great choice for landscape photography. This camera filter gives you more space to move around the subject – It eliminates the risk of uneven spots.
The most common size is 4×6, but you may use smaller and larger camera lens filters as per your need.
Screw-On AKA round filters that are directly mounted and screwed at the front of the camera lens.
Polarizing filters, color filters, and ND filters all fall under this category. They come in different diameters and thicknesses. The thicker your lens is, the more the vignetting in your photos will be produced.
These camera filters are generally used with telephoto lenses. They have larger than normal front elements and cannot always be easily used with Screw-On filters.
A drop-in filter is inserted into a small, special area near the rear part of the lens.
No matter which digital camera brand you’re using, camera filters can always come in handy whenever you want to add an impact to your images.
These come in various shapes and shades that you can utilize in different circumstances. I’ve tried to explain camera lens filters accurately and precisely in this article.
However, when and why you use it completely depends on how familiar you are with lens filters and what kind of photography you perform. But the one thing is for sure, if you decide to use them, they’ll surely not disappoint you.
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