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Thread: An introduction to filters please!

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    An introduction to filters please!

    Can anyone help with a brief explanation of what each kind of filter does, when (and when not) to use each one, which types to get and the difference between cheap and expensive ones? I've looked in the learning plan and searched the threads but can't see any general introduction to filters.

    Thanks!
    Always in two minds whether to capture the moment or just savour it...
    350D + kit lenses just upgraded to 5D2, 24-105mm, 50mm 1.4 and bags of hope

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    Sunrise Chaser
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    Just a question , What type of Photography are you interested in ? And type of lens do you intend to use
    Canon : 30D, and sometimes the 5D mkIII , Sigma 10-20, 50mm 1.8, Canon 24-105 f4 L , On loan Sigma 120-400 DG and Canon 17 - 40 f4 L , Cokin Filters




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    Beginners guides to filters:

    Uv - do not need them
    Cpl - very handy
    Nd - good for waterfalls
    Gnd - good for sunsets and sunrises
    Darren
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    Landscapes, nature, wildlife and birds. Lenses are as described in my signature plus I would like to get a 100-400 when I can afford it.

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    Administrator ricktas's Avatar
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    There are literally hundreds of filters, so giving you an overview of them would take up more time and space than most members would bother typing.

    Polariser : Reduces Glare, Increases Contrast, Darkens Skies, Stop reflections on shiny surfaces (glass, water etc)
    Neutral Density : Darkens the entire scene. Good for waterfalls, darkening daylight shots to stop over-exposure
    Graduated Neutral Density : Dark at top of filter gradually dropping to clear at the bottom. Great for landscapes to darken the skies

    Other

    Coloured filters, change the colour of the scene. You can get say a sunset graduated one to 'create' an orangish look to the sky (though they tend to look fake), or a blue one to add more blue to the sky.

    Fog filters, star filters, spot filters, rarely used these days as they can be reproduced in photoshop etc.

    Go HERE and download the PDF 100 page catalogue to see a HUGE range of filters, if you are interested in what is out there
    Last edited by ricktas; 28-01-2011 at 2:00pm.
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    Thanks for this. Can I ask a couple of follow up questions:

    UV- is this still useful as a lens protector?
    Neutral Density - what density level is best for general use?
    Graduated Neutral Density - these don't seem to come in circular filters, why not?
    Price difference between basic and professional (3 to 4 times for pro filters) - do you actually see the difference and is there any reason for an amateur not to get just the basic version?

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    1. No
    2. ND8
    3. They do, but they are very expensive. Look at Cokin P for good value
    4. Yes and no. The better you are the more you see, just like lenses.

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    http://steveaxford.smugmug.com/ Steve Axford's Avatar
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    For nature, wildlife and birds - I can't see that you will need a filter, ever. For landscapes a CPL is handy, but you can easily survive without any others. Best to spend your hard earned on lenses rather than filters, at least until you decide that you have a real need. Mine sit in a cupboard gathering dust.

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    Shore Crawler Dylan & Marianne's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Camerashy View Post
    Thanks for this. Can I ask a couple of follow up questions:

    UV- is this still useful as a lens protector?
    Neutral Density - what density level is best for general use?
    Graduated Neutral Density - these don't seem to come in circular filters, why not?
    Price difference between basic and professional (3 to 4 times for pro filters) - do you actually see the difference and is there any reason for an amateur not to get just the basic version?
    1. I've had one isolated episode where I dropped the 24-70mm from 1mm onto hard ground and the UV filter smashed but the lens ok - that doesn't mean I condone its abuse though :P - usually when I take off the filters in front of my lens, its to let more light in (eg wedding reception) - having another piece of glass in front of the lens blocks that.
    2. agree with ND8
    3. I would STRONGLY advise against getting circular GNDs - the purpose of them is to darken certian parts of the image and if you get a screw-on circular one, the line of graduation is going to be at the same midline position for every shot you take which imposes limitations on composition.
    4. I'd start with basic stuff and if you find you're getting limited by it, move up.

    I primarily shoot landscapes and the CPL is on the camera by default, so if I were to advise you on any ONE filter, that would be it.
    I even leave it on for bright outdoor wedding shoots - the colours are brought out, glare reduced etc.
    Call me Dylan! www.everlookphotography.com | www.everlookphotography.wordpress.com | www.flickr.com/photos/dmtoh
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    Singh Ray/Hitech/Lee assorted filters, Z pro modified system Cokin holder
    Post : Lightroom 3.6 catalogue -> Export as 16bit TIFF, Edited CS5 -> resized for web.

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    Ausphotography Regular Fedgrub's Avatar
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    Interesting thread... I guess I have been given a lot of misinformation. Thanks for sharing, all!

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