Filter Tips

Film and Digital

     Skylight 1A - A skylight filter slightly warms the image which is useful on cloudy days, with photos taken in the shade and flowers.   With a digital camera, this filter has another benefit.  Auto White Balance often produces images that are slightly cool toned.  A  skylight filter corrects that unnatural bluish tone.

     UV Ultraviolet - UV filters remove excess ultraviolet light.  UV light causes haze and a bluish cast which is most noticeable in landscape photos.  A UV filter helps remove that haze and blue cast resulting in a clearer, sharper image.  

     Polarizer - Simply put, polarizers turn the sky blue and remove reflections from windows and water.  They are most effective at an approximate  angle of 90 degrees to the sun.  In other words, sun to the right or left of you. Polarizers have an adjustable ring which allows you to change the intensity of the filter.  For manual focus cameras, a linear polarizer works well.  For autofocus cameras, a circular polarizer is required.  With digital cameras, polarizers help reduce the purple fringing caused by high contrast lighting.    Mirroless digital cameras require a linear polarizer.     

     Neutral Density - ND filters reduce the amount of light entering the lens.  This is useful when you need a slow shutter speed but the light is simply too bright to allow the adjustment.  For instance, waterfalls and ocean sunset photography. 

     Graduated - Graduated filters are dark on the top while gradually growing lighter toward the bottom.  They darken a bright sky while keeping the landscape bright which creates a more even exposure.  They are useful for sunsets and seascapes.

      Soft Focus - Soft focus filters make edges less sharp.  This effect is useful for portrait photography as it softens the skin and hides imperfections in the skin.

B/W Film

     Polarizer - Polarizers create contrast and reduce haze in B/W images.

     Green - Green filters whiten greens and darken reds.  They are used mostly for landscapes and architecture.

     Red - Red filters whiten reds and darken greens.  They are used mostly for architecture and infrared photography.

     Yellow - Yellow filters brighten yellows and darken blues.  They are used mostly for portraits and landscapes

Color Film

     FLD Flourescent - FLD filters remove the bluish green cast which occurs under flourescent lighting.

     80A, 80B, 80C - 80 series filters correct for incandescent lighting by removing the orange cast produced by standard light bulbs.

     81A, 81B, 81C - 81 series filters warm the image.  They are useful when using flash or shooting in overcast light.

     82A - 82 series filters reduce the reddish glow in morning light and can be used to correct the orange cast from household bulbs.

     85A - 85 series filters are obsolete for color use.  They were used with tungsten balanced films in daylight situations.  They can be used as          a warming filter or for a creative look in B/W pics

Series Filters

     Series filters are mounted in a thread-less metal rim. They are attached to the lens with an adapter and a retaining ring.  The filter is placed into the adapter and held in place with a retaining ring.   Some adapters are threaded, while others are designed to slip on to the front of the lens.   The threads on Series filters or accessories are not compatible with modern lenses.   Please visit this page on desktop pc to see the filter size chart.   Find more info here.

Bay Filters

     Bay stands for bayonet.   Many vinatge camers use bay filters.  Bay filters come in sizes Bay 0 up through Bay 8.   They tend to be expensive.  More info here.

Using Filters

     We'll cover the most important filters in this section.  These filters are a necessity for film and digital photography.  Photoshop is not a substitute for the effect these filters have on your photo.​​​

Polarizer - It is important to know when to use a polarizer and why.  Polarizers remove the glare that is produced when light reflects off a surface at about a 90 degree  angle to the light source.  The key word here is reflect.  Any reflective surface can produce glare.  In the photographic world we are mostly concerned with reflections in windows, water and the sky.   So, if you are looking at the sun, the sky to the left and right of you contains polarized light.  Direct light is not affected by the filter.  Only the areas to the left and right of you in relation to the light source will be affected by the filter.  The polarizer filter removes the glare from the reflective surface.   These filters are designed to let you dial in the amount of filtration you want to use.  It is necessary to spin the filter until you see the effect you desire.  As you can see in the  example of the sky, removing glare deepens the blue sky and defines the edges of the clouds.  In the water example, removing glare lets you see into the water.  Window glare is affected in the same way.  Since polarizer filters remove light from the photo you may need to compensate for the exposure loss.  It may be as much as two stops.  If you are using an autofocus slr you need to use a circular polarizer to avoid focusing issues.  If you are using a manual focus slr you may use either a linear or circular polarizer.   In addition to the examples listed, polarizer filters can deepen the colors in autumn foliage pics by removing glare from the leaves and sky.  Polarizer filters also help reduce chromatic aberrations like purple fringing by reducing the brightness of the sky.  Please remember, If you do not see the desired effect in the viewfinder then the light you are trying to filter is not a reflective glare and can not be removed by the filter.  Polarizers will reduce your exposure by 1 to 2 stops.    NOTE:  Do not use a polarizer with an ultra wide lens.  The lens' field of view is wider than the effected view of the filter.  Only part of your image will show the effect.


Ultraviolet (UV) - UV filters block the ultraviolet radiation which causes blur and haze in photos.  They also make great lens protectors because they do not effect color balance or change your photo's exposure.  If you were to own one filter, this is the one you should own.​  UV filters do not need to be adjusted, just kept clean.  You can see in the example below that a haze filter can greatly improve your landscape photos.  Haze is always present but is most noticeable when viewing objects over long distances.  Haze is also magnified when you use a telephoto lens.  If your telephoto pics are bluish and hazy, you need a UV filter.  You can maximize the effect of the UV filter by using a small aperture.  Small apertures, like f11, sharpen your image and that helps reduce the blur effect, especially on digital cameras.  Really, it helps.  UV filters do not affect exposure.


Neutral Density (ND) - ND filters reduce the amount of light entering the lens.  They do not affect the colors in your photos, only the exposure.   It is important to note that ND filters don't directly cause an effect, they merely make it possible for the photographer to create the effect.  What do i mean by that?   Let's use a  waterfall as an example.  To make the water appear softer and blurred we need to use a slow shutter speed.  The slower the speed the more blur we see.  Sometimes though we don't have the option to use a slow shutter speed.  It's just too bright.  Our ISO is as low as it will go.  Our aperture is as small as it will go and our shutter speed is still too high because there is too much light.  ND filters to the rescue.  If you put a 4 stop ND filter on your lens, you can change your shutter speed from 1/125th sec. down to 1/8th sec.  Bingo, now you can blur your water.  The filter didn't cause the blur, it gave the photographer the ability to choose by reducing the amount of light entering the camera.  Any time you need to reduce the amount oflight to allow a slow shutter speed and create blur, use a ND filter.ND filters come in various strengths. Typically, you want a filter thatreduces at least 3 stops of light.​​.

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Graduated ND - These filters work on the same premise as ND filters but they are only half coated with light reducer.  Thishalf coating allows you to darken bright skies.  Be careful to buy a graduated ND that has the transition line that you need.   I suggest a soft transition.  


Close Up - Close up filters are an inexpensive way to turn your lens into a macro lens.  When you need to get very close to an object to see small details but you don't have a macro lens, use a closeup lens.  Close up lenses are great for coin and jewelry photography,  but they can produce a large amount of distortion around the edges.  Closeup lenses may slightly increase exposure.  


Special Problems

     Do not use a polarizer on an ultra wide lens.  The lens' field of view is wider then the effective filtered area in the photo.  You will get severe banding.  


     When using filters on ultra-wide angle lenses, be sure to clean them very very well.   The smallest amount of dust or smear will be viewable in your photo.   The depth of field is so large on ultra-wides that you are actually capturing the filter in the photo.