Here’s a brief article to introduce the lens filter, an accessory that many photography beginners have little clue on how they help in photography.
The Most Common
The most common filter that practically everyone has, is the UV filter.
The UV filters are mostly transparent, and often used not just to reduce haziness created by ultraviolet light but also as lens protection.
Degraded Image Quality vs Protection
Purists often refuse to use filters as they wish for optimal image quality. Adding filter(s) mean adding additional element for the light to pass through before reaching the sensor, thus reducing quality to some extent, to me it’s really really really really really really negligible.
Personally, I’d rather have the UV filter on as protection, protection from accidental bumps and knocks that may dent or scratch the lens. It also becomes an anti-dust / debris layer, each wipe would be one the filter instead of the lens glass, thus not affecting any coating. Overall, you can say that such minor item would help in retaining the value of your lens. 🙂
I do come by arguments saying that if the filter breaks, it will scratch your lens. Well, I’ll put it this way – if some thing was to knock on your lens. Would you rather it hitting the lens glass on first contact? Or would you rather it hit the filter and giving the lens a chance to survive? Note, a broken filter does not necessarily scratch the lens but if something of that force hit the lens itself – you could end up having to buy a new one.
Working with Filters
Filters – they come in varying in function, size and quality.
Some of the filters that I found really useful are like the circular polarizer filter (CPL), while it’s commonly known to be used for creating beautiful gradient skies in landscape photography, many actually do not realize that it’s great for clearing reflections.
It’s not the best example but you get the idea, basically it helps remove the glare or reflection by diverting the angle of light. If you manage to get hold of a CPL, try it by turning the CPL as you view through the viewfinder.
Another fun filter to use is the close-up filter, great for those who wish to do some form of macro but not able to afford a dedicated macro lens that does 1:1 magnification or more. Here’s a photo taken with ah Hoya +4 Close-up filter.
Filters are also stackable!
Here’s what I did with some filters in my collection. Basically it’s a 52mm UV filter on an EF 50mm f/1.8 II lens, then stacked with a 52mm to 55mm adapter ring, 55mm +4 filter, 55mm yellow filter, 55mm haze filter and lastly a 55mm CPL.
No, please don’t do that. The above photo is to show how it is stackable but seriously it’s VERY impractical.
And here’s the result of combining a yellow filter and a close-up filter.
For my paintball outings, I usually stack 2 UV filters for added protection for the front material against the force of incoming paintball pellets.
Filters do get costly, especially those of wider diameter and of better quality.
The main purpose of this article is not to cover or dwell in detail for EVERY SINGLE filter on the planet, but rather to make known this nifty accessory that could add to anyone’s endeavor on photographic adventures. It could be really helpful, like how CPL could remove reflection or reduce the intensity of light. Or it could be fun, like how macro filters could allow you to snap everything else up close.
What filters do you guys like? Do you think you’ll be getting any? Do share. I plan to get Cokin Z-pro ND filters.