Guide for Useful Filters

What filters do you need, and more importantly, why do you need them?

Glass filters that screw into your camera’s lens belong in every serious shooter’s camera bag because they let you do a number of important things that can’t be accomplished in any other way. Polarisers and ND filters let you achieve a wide variety of effects at the moment of exposure when your creative juices are flowing. When you mount a filter over the lens, you can observe its effect directly in real time before you press the shutter release

Protective Filters

If you care about your valuable lenses then you should protect each one from dust and scratches with a UV or "Lens Protect" filter. These act as a  “transparent lens cap” which will protect the lens and reduce haze but will not affect the exposure. Any scratches on the lens will damage the filter – not your valuable lens.

Polarizing Filters

The most important filter you need after the Lens Protector is a polarising filter (aka CPL). Polarising filters change the way that your camera sees reflections and glare and the effects can not be replicated in Photoshop.

Typical Uses of CPL  Filters:

When shooting a picture of water adjusting your polarising filter will mean you see into the water differently, cutting out glare, seeing objects below the surface and even changing the colour of the water 

Similarly, the colour of sky can change remarkably using a polarising filter. Rotating the filter you’ll see a blue sky change from a light pale blue colour to a vibrant and deep blue colour (depending upon where the sun is). 

Polarising filters cut down the reflection that many objects have which makes the colours of some of these objects more vibrant. For example out in the garden you might notice foliage on trees looking greener than you would get without the filter. 

Other Reflections – Shooting through glass can be a real challenge at times and using a polarising filter can definitely assist in cutting down distracting reflections or glare.

Polarising filters are housed in a circular mount that screws onto the end of your lens and work best when the lens is at about a 90° angle to the sun. To adjust the amount of polarisation, rotate the filter while looking through the viewfinder. Contrast and saturation will become stronger, then weaker again, and reflections will come and go. Keep turning the filter until you’re happy with the degree of polarisation.


Neutral Density (Light Control) Filters

These cut down the amount of light entering the camera without affecting colour. They are available in a wide variety of densities.
1-stop (0.3, ND2) reduces the light by 50%; 2-stop (0.6, ND4 reduces the light by 25%; 3-stop (0.9, ND8) reduces the light by 12.5% and so on
Not sure which to buy? Invest a little more and buy a rotating variable ND filter that can provide 1 to 9 f-stops in one filter

Typical Uses of ND Filters:    

• To Blur Action in bright light by slowing down the shutter spped when one wants a relatively slow shutter speed to indicate movement (such as water)    

• To Reduce Depth of Field in bright light by cutting down the light thus enabling one to open the aperture up more.

• To make people disappear by allowing you to use a very long exposure.

Check out our selection of filters here.

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