This and That – Lens Filters

Last week I spoke about what was in my kit, I would just quickly like to say thank you to the people who responded with what they use, always interesting and fun. Anyway I mentioned a few filters I use, I thought perhaps I would go into a bit more detail. There are many different  filters available, and I am sure many different brands. I must admit, that most of my filters are HOYA brand, and no this is not a shameless plug, just making a statement (but hey if Hoya handed me freebies I would not complain!) I have added links to various things on the Hoya site, but feel free to visit any other manufacturer.

So let’s start with the basic UV Filter;

“Absorbs the ultraviolet rays which often makes outdoor photographs hazy and indistinct. A muliti-purpose fine-weather filter for color as well as black and white films. Also serves as a permanent lens protector.”

Hoya Basic UV Filter
Hoya Basic UV Filter

Now I basically use this filter to stop dirt, dust, water and scratches from appearing on my lens, they screw on and off, they come in a range of size to suit most lenses and are relatively cheap approx $50 – $75+ (depending on size of lens). There are cheap plastic ones out there, but I have heard some not so nice things about plastic lenses, so all of mine are glass.

Circular Polarization Filter

“Light rays which are reflected by any surface can become polarized so polarizing filters are used to select which light rays enter your camera lens. CIRCULAR PL filters allow you to remove unwanted reflections from non-metallic surfaces such as water, glass etc. They also enable colors to become more saturated and appear clearer with better contrast. This effect is often used to increase the contrast and saturation in blue skies and white clouds. HOYA’s polarizing filters do not affect the overall color balance of a shot.”


Now I know there are some people out there who do not like these lenses, I say Bah Humbug! I love them, they do not distort images, they do not create false shadows, they do not over saturate colors in the sky and water, yes sometimes they can intensify them, but not over saturate them. One was suggested to me by an associate and I have never looked back, however in saying that they are not necessarily advisable indoors, they are an outdoor filter.  You screw them on and off like a UV Filter, however as the filter itself moves and adjusts it can be a little tricky getting them on and off if it is really cold and your fingers are numb! So tread carefully when changing filters.

Variable Neutral Density Filter

“The Hoya Variable Neutral Density Filter provides a convenient way to maintain exposure control by being able to vary the amount of light entering the camera by 1.5 to 9 stops (0.45 to 2.7 density for Cine use). The precision built-in double ring design allows the outer ring rotates to control amount of neutral density effect anywhere within the 1.5 – 9 stop range. This double-ring design is also thin to reduce the likelihood of vignetting with wide-angle lenses. This control allows for many special effects such as being able to control depth of field by using a wider aperture or create or control motion blur by being able to choose just the right slower shutter speeds for perfect blurring.”

Variable ND Filter
Variable ND Filter

I only have one of these on my kit lens, sometimes I wish I had one for my 200mm lens, but I am still playing with it and am not exactly sure I really am happy with it. True I only need one, as it is variable, but due to the aperture on my big lens I do not know if it will go dark enough for long exposures. In saying that do I need anything over 30 seconds during the day? There are so many different graduated, half and variant density filters, I guess my variable was a good first buy. I would love to hear what other people use and their thoughts on them.

LEE Big Stopper ND Filter

A lot of people seem to talk about the Lee Big Stopper and sure it reduces 10 stop exposure (mine already does 9), is it all it’s cracked up to be? It looks big and cumbersome to fit to a lens (does it fit multiple lens sizes BTW?) I guess that would be handy, just using one and not having a different one for each lens size (the Variable one I have I need a different size for each lens size; 52mm, 77mm etc). The glass seems easy enough to drop in and out. I guess there would be no vignetting on the sides. I have found I occasionally get that on my filter, but I tend to just crop it out. I hear it is expensive $500+ for a basic set up. Some people still claim it’s an over the top expense which is unwarranted (ie; Matt Lauder ) but that is just one review, other say they are very happy with it (Robert Strachan & Lee Duguid) .

Colored Filters
Colored Filters

Then there are colored filters which seem to do everything from balance light, increase/ decrease warmth, adjust green, yellow, reds, increase blues, enhance skin tone. How do you know where to start (and finish). I must admit, I have none of these. Does anyone out there use them? If yes for which purpose?

Special FX Filters
Special FX Filters

And then there are Special Effects filters, honestly I do not even know where to start there, a photographer could go broke, but are any of them necessary or just  more gadgets?

So how do you know which one to get? I wish there was a Fairy God Mother who could grant wishes and allow us to ‘play’ with these items before we buy, but I guess only the big wig professional photographers get to play with cool toys for free 🙂 !

Please let me know you thoughts on anything I have written, if you have a different experience with any filters, good or bad. What filters do you use and would you recommend them?

Well that’s it for this week, till then happy snapping

– Julz