Camera Lens Filter Buying Guide

23 June 2020

When it comes to putting together the ultimate photography kit, we all put a great deal of time into choosing the best DSLR and Mirrorless cameras, as well as digital camera lenses to get beautiful results in any circumstances, and rightfully so. But there are camera accessories that you should also consider adding to your cart before you checkout, such as camera bags, tripods and camera lens filters

Read on to find out why we think you should use filters and which ones to choose for your camera lenses.

Why you should use lens filters

With so much manipulation possible with photo editing software you may be asking, what place do lens filters have in digital photography? 

When it comes to lens filters that deliver a specific effect, we are here to tell you that it is much quicker and easier to set your gear up to capture the best results in-camera than it is to rely on your fancy Photoshop skills. When it comes to producing the best quality photographs, you should aim to make your job easier at every step and save yourself from extra work at a later stage.

Camera filters are also an integral part of digital camera lens care and maintenance, by providing protection to the important and sensitive front element of your lens. If, when being used out in the field your lens is exposed to dirt, grime or even impact, it is much cheaper and easier to replace a filter than it is to repair or replace your lens.

Camera Lens Filter Buying GuideCamera Lens Filter Buying Guide

Understanding filter size

Camera Lens Filter Buying GuideCamera Lens Filter Buying Guide

It is important to understand that filter thread size is different to lens focal length - this can be tricky for beginners to remember!

Thankfully, there is a foolproof way of determining what size filter your lens needs. It is actually written on the filter!

Look closely at the information on your lens and you will see the geometric symbol for diameter (see the corresponding image) followed by a number, which is the lenses diameter in millimetres. This is the size of the filters which are compatible with your lens - It's that simple! 

Although this is the main consideration when finding a compatible filter for your lens, users of ultra-wide-angle lenses also need to consider the thickness or profile of the filter. This is due to their wider field of view causing the filter to be visible in the frame causing vignetting and it applies to lenses with focal lengths of 28mm or wider. Thankfully slim and ultra-slim filters can be used to easily negate this effect.

Types of lens filters

UV filters - We recommend UV filters or clear protection filters with every lens we sell. UV filters have a small impact on the quality of your image by reducing UV light and therefore haze and increasing contrast, but it must be said their primary use these days is lens protection. 

Polarising filters - Polarising filters are the favoured tool of landscape photographers. They are handy for darkening skies and increasing vividness and contrast in your images. They can also be used to reduce reflections, which is perfect if water or glass is present in your photograph and you want to control this feature.

Circular Polarising filters are the type of Polarising filter that we sell the most of today, and they are popular as they can be adjusted to suit each situation. 

Neutral Density filters - If you are interested in photographing waterfalls and other similar forms of long exposure photography, you simply must have ND filters in your gadget bag. Coming in varying degrees of strength, ND filters reduce the amount of light entering your lens so you can use slower shutter speeds without over-exposing your image. This allows you to intentionally blur elements within your image to emphasise motion.

Camera Lens Filter Buying GuideCamera Lens Filter Buying Guide

Special effects filters - Special effects filters are less common in digital photography but still do an important job. Infrared filters cut out all visible light, leaving in only the elements of light which are not usually visible to the naked eye - it is a stunning effect.

Coloured filters produce drastic colour shifts, but are more commonly used to change the tonality of black and white photography, while warming and cooling filters add a specific tint and subsequently mood to an image. There are filters on the market for photographers of all fields, such as light pollution filters which reduce the orange glow caused by street lights and other artificial light sources - these ones are custom built for astrophotography.

Shop for lens filters today

A note about filter quality

Camera Lens Filter Buying GuideCamera Lens Filter Buying Guide

While we said that UV filters have just a small impact on your image, you wouldn't want to spend thousands of dollars on a masterfully engineered optic only to put a cheap piece of glass on the front. For this reason, there are lens filters of varying quality available.

For your basic standard zoom lens, you can get by with an entry-level filter, with the Hoya UV HMC range being a good example of a budget filter, which is still good quality.

For more expensive and high-quality lenses, you are best served to purchase a more advanced quality of filter. Such filters feature extra coatings to reduce reflections and similar issues, as well as being scratch-resistant so as to be longer-lasting when used in varied conditions. While the quality of these filters is reflected in their higher price tag, you must remember that these accessories are responsible for protecting and upholding the integrity of your expensive camera lenses.

Accessorise your camera at Ted’s

At Ted’s, we have a wide range of accessories available to help you get the most from your digital camera. If you need help filling out your gadget bag, stop by our blog or talk to the friendly staff at your local Ted’s store today.

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