The Most Important Photography Filters

lens and camera filter

Upgrading from a compact camera to a mirrorless or a DSLR one is a big step. You can’t realize all its implications right off the bat, so you can expect to learn and improve as you go. In addition, the more you go out there are take photos, the sooner you are going to discover what accessories you need to buy, in order to make the most out of your hobby. Filters are among the things you are going to discover, so you can expect to spend quite a good amount of money on several ones.

Three Must-Have Photography Filters

First of all, you need to know that not all filters are alike. They fulfill different functions, so buying one filter and installing it on your lens isn’t going to be enough. This is why it’s best to spend a little time studying what types of filters are available, what are their roles, and which ones you believe would serve you best.

1. UV Filter

UV filter

UV filter

The first and most important filter is the UV protection one. Fairly inexpensive, it only produces affects when shooting mountain and seaside landscapes. However, you should consider getting an UV filter even if you are mainly into portraits or macro photography. The reason is that this filter provides protection to your lenses. Such filters cost a few dollars, so even if you scratch them, you can easily replace them. On the contrary, if you scratch a lens that costs hundreds or thousands of dollars, you are going to have a hard time buying a new one. This filter is your insurance that your lenses are going to be fine, even if you are an outdoor lover and a hiker.

2. Polarizing Filter

Circular Polarizing Filter

Circular Polarizing Filter

The polarizing filter is also one of the must-have accessories of photography lovers. It consists of two layers that can rotate independently. They are useful for darkening skies, suppressing glare and attenuate reflections. If you shoot the water with such a filter, you are going to be able to capture excellent images of the bottom of the sea and of the living creatures you can’t even see with your naked eye. This is the only filter you can’t replicate using digital photo editing software. This is why you have to buy one.

3. Neutral Density Filter

neutral-density-filter

Nature taken with neutral density filter by Victor Calvis [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

Neutral density filters are also interesting. They darken the landscape, thus enabling you to use very big exposure times even when shooting in full daylight. By using such filters, you can capture stunning effects on moving water. Shooting rivers and waterfalls with a neutral density filter will render the water smooth and silky. This is an effect you can’t obtain in post-processing, so if you want it, you have to purchase the physical filter. These filters are also used to remove humans in motion from photos. If you want to shoot a very popular touristic attraction, you won’t be able to find a moment when there are no people around it. However, by using a neutral density filter, elements in motion won’t appear in the images. It’s true that you have to use a tripod for this kind of photography, but the results are definitely worth carrying a lot of heavy stuff around.

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There are many other filters available. If you want, you can easily spend a small fortune on them. However, not all of them are truly essential. When it comes to digital photography, you can apply many filters later on, in the photo processing software, so you don’t have to bother with buying all of them. Before choosing the ones to add to your photographer’s kit, you should take some time and read everything you can about all types of filters and their functions. This is going to give you a better picture of what you should have and what not, so that you don’t invest money into accessories you won’t use a lot. When choosing your filters, it is also highly recommended to go for a known and reputable brand, with a good history and market presence. Cheap glass can easily spoil your photos, so you should aim for the highest possible quality. After all, since you’ve invested so much in your camera and lenses, why would you go cheap when it comes to filters? They are less expensive anyway, so choose the best ones.

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