Do I need lens filters?

Discussion in 'Casual Photo Conversations' started by wendy_garrison, Oct 20, 2007.

  1. I see lots of different filters out there and was wondering, since I am new to
    SLR photography, do I really need filters and if I do, what one (or ones)? Is
    it best to have one when we go to Disney and I am taking photos in bright
    daylight all day? Thanks!
  2. Well I think the most common filter is a UV filter. A UV is often times sold as an upsale on camera lenses. People debate the relative importance of UV filters and you can read about that on this site.

    Other common filters are polerization, red, yellow, 81a, 81b, cross cut,ND Grad, not to mention many others. Polerization filters work to reduce glare but also take away at least a stop depending on the one used, red and yellow are generally only used on black and white film. 81a and 81b are often times used on slide film to give it more pop.

    My suggestion is that you shoot and shoot and when you come to a problem get a filter if required to fix it. You will learn what you need by shooting more and more.
  3. You need none needlessly, Wendy. Just use your camera as it came complete within itself. Enjoy!
  4. The primary purpose many have in mind with the UV filter is to get some protection for their lens front element, the UV protection is often secondary. B+W MRC UV filters are highly regarded: they are coated to minimize introduced glare and reflections. They tend to be very pricey and/or hard to find from local retailers, but more available and cheaper purchased online, say from B&H or Adorama.

    The most reflection-prone situation is probably streetlights at night, and then you might want to temporarily remove the filter. Anyway, filters are one sure way to prevent fingerprints on your lens front element.

    Here's some info:
  5. Wendy -

    Having just been to Disney World this summer and Disneyland last summer, I can honestly say "Yes" to the you need a filter question.

    The filter (get a nice UV) is a lot cheaper than a new lens. The first day we were at Disney World a youngster standing in line next to us decided "oh pretty toy" and put his fingers (sticky of course) on my $950 lens... actually he put them on my $35.00 UV filter. Saved by a piece of glass.

    That's just one time that the filter has saved me... there have been others... but my advise is that the UV filter is a cheap insurance policy for your lenses.

  6. Assuming that you are using a DSLR, the only filter that you really *need* is a good quality circular polarizer. That is one optical effect that can not be effectively recreated with digital imaging software.

    You *may* want a clear protective UV filter for you lens(es). That's entirely up to you, and you'll never get a consensus here (or anywhere else) if you actually *need* one.
  7. I agree with regard top the polarizing filter--critical for managing glare, particularly around water.
  8. If film, you will eventually need filters for many different enhancements of the image. If you are digital or are scanning in the pictures, probably less need for filters, since many (but not polarizing) effects can be done in post processing in Photoshop Elements or whatever.

    For Disney parks, definitely a clear or UV filter to protect lenses from sticky little fingers, as David says. Even other places, it's easier and safer to clean filter surfaces than it is to clean the front element of your lens.

    For medium wide angle and up, polarizers (should be "circular" for digital and many through-the-lens exposure systems) are really helpful, but they only work at certain angles to the sun, and will produce uneven sky effects for very wide angle lenses.
  9. Although as Michael said most of the effects can be reproduced in PS it takes some work and often the results are not all that satisfactory. I would add to the list of must have filters, a set of Graduated Neutral Density Filters (to use when 2 parts of the photo have very different lighting like in a sunset for instance) and some plain Neutral Density Filters to control your exposure in bright lighting conditions.
  10. I've only just become interested in portraits and have found that at around f3 in reasonably bright daylight the shutter speed is a fair bit higher than 1/500 sec.

    To sync. with my D70 and in-built flash I sometimes need to add a polarizer which reduces the exposure by about 2 stops.

    I have ND filters to do this, but am disappointed in that they produce a color cast. My polarizer doesn't, and as some have already pointed out it's great for a number of other applications.
  11. I'd agree with Michael Freeman, especially if you shoot outdoors a lot. (Polarizers aren't often used with indoor, portrait photography) While they do knock out 2 stops of light, on very bright days, that can be a good thing. They can make colors really pop and get rid of unwanted reflections in glass, water, etc.

    Here are a few shots using a polarizer:

    They're especially useful this time of year for fall colors. If you decide to get one, I wouldn't go cheap. You can buy one filter for your largest lens and use step-down rings so that one polarizer will attach to all of your other lenses too. Good luck!
  12. Yes, I am using a DSLR, that is, when it arrives in the mail soon. Can I use a polarizer and a UV filter at the same time? Thanks
  13. Yes, you can have both filters mounted at the same time. I'm not aware of any that don't (but I'm not aware of a lot stuff) but just make sure your uv filter will accept a polarizing filter.
  14. "Can I use a polarizer and a UV filter at the same time?"

    Usually, unless you're shooting extreme wide angle. Then, especially if the polarizer is regular thickness (not slim), you may start to get the edge of the filter in the image. The limit is around 24mm for full frame and 15mm for 1.6 crop bodies. To verify, take test shots. Don't rely on viewfinder alone, it likely does not show 100% of the image, typically a little less. Your best though to use just one filter at a time, avoid stacking them.

    On the other hand, when used on extreme wide angle, the effect of the polarizer will tend be uneven: it's most effective when the sun is 90 degrees away from your shot direction, and diminishes as that angle changes. So with polarizers on extreme wide shots, you tend to get good darkening of one area of sky, but see the effect somewhat localized, and falling off on either side.

    Just a general thought on polarizers:

    If you're just thinking to get a filter, I'd start with the UV, for lens protection. Get that right away, plunk it on as soon as you get the lens out of the box, and forget about it. And, leave polarizers for a later. They are capable of punching up the color and contrast, but are a bit of a hassle to adjust, reduce the light by 1~2 stops, are hard to use with hoods (you need to rotate them inside the hood), pricey (especially with multiple lens filter sizes!), and so on. I use mine infrequently, and like the results. I know it would be of value more often, but often the fuss involved will mean you *miss* a shot.
  15. Another hint when you start to buy other lenses, is that you can buy many filters, including polarizers, for the largest diameter lens you have, and then use "step-down" adapters to fit the filters to smaller diameter lenses.

    For the graduated neutral density you will want to look into filters in the Cokin style which you can Google to find out information about. But don't worry about that right now. Just study your manual (and carry it around with you for reference). These dSLRs are so complex if you use all the features, that most users are still finding new things out even after they've had the camera for a while.
  16. Thanks everyone. I will invest in a UV filter to start with.
  17. Several years a go I was photographing Old Faithful in Yellowstone. The wind suddenly shifted and several hundred photographers and their cameras were misted with a silicon like substance from the geyser. Needless to say, its not removable. A lot of lenses instantly and permanently turned into soft focus lenses. I was lucky, I replaced the UV filter on my lens and backed up, a lot.
  18. Between that happening and the sticky fingers at Disney, I am definately getting at least a UV filter for my camera! Thanks for the advice!
  19. Okay, now I have a new dilemna----I didn't know that the UV lenses are different mm's. For example, 52mm, 55mm, 58mm, 62mm, etc. Why are they like that and what mm do I get? Is it based on what lens I have and do I need a different UV filter for each lens? Here are the lenses I am getting---18-55m lens (the standard kit lens for the K100D Super), a Sigma 70-300 DG macro telephoto zoom and I want to get the Pentax SMCP-FA 50mm f/1.4 lens. Thanks
  20. Wendy -

    The 50,52,60, etc... mm's on the filters refer to the diameter of the lens. On the end of your lens you will see a number - typically 50mm or greater (not related to the focal length of the lens.) That will be the lens diameter.

    Chances are that you will need multiple UV filters, since most lens diameters are different, although you might get lucky.

    If in doubt as to the diameter, take the lens to your nearest camera shop (ritz, etc...) and have them help to find the correct diameter filter for you.


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