As an aspiring photographer, you may have either heard of or even used camera lens filters before. But with so many types, it can get a little overwhelming knowing which to use for which purpose. Don’t fret, we’re here to break it down and guide you through! Let’s take a look at what camera filters do, their different purposes and how you can use them.
What Are Camera Filters?
Camera filters are small pieces of glass that attach to your lens. They are used for managing difficult lighting conditions, and help to minimize glare and reflections. Camera filters can also reduce light going into the lens and enhance colors. Essentially, the purpose of camera filters are to enhance the final look of an image!
How Are Camera Filters Used?
Camera filters do a whole host of things, so let’s take a look at some before we move onto specific functions and types!
Some filters are clear and are used primarily for protection. The clear glass won’t impact your images, but reduces the risk of damage such as cracks, scratches or dust on your lens surface.
Color Correction & Enhancement
Certain types of filters can boost or alter the colors in your images. They can help balance out the color temperature, or enhance color and contrast to make your images more vibrant.
If you’re working with difficult lighting conditions, filters help to achieve accurate exposure. This is because they block some light from entering the lens, which is super helpful for outdoor shooting in bright conditions.
Alongside all of their technical uses listed above, filters can help to add a little sparkle to your shots. They can produce interesting effects that make your images stand out, such as multi-point stars on light sources or even softened edges.
UV & Skylight Filters
UV and Skylight Filters help to protect the front of your lens against dirt and damage. They used to be popular for blocking haze caused by UV light in older photographic films, as they were more sensitive. With that said, Skylight Filters are super helpful when shooting under a clear blue sky, reducing the blue cast and keeping skin tones free of color reflections.
Top Tip: Be wary of your image quality, as these filters can intensify lens flares that can add color tints and reduce the image contrast!
Polarizing Filters act almost as sunglasses, adding depth to images by saturating the color and reducing reflections. These filters feature a rotating mount that is simple to attach to your lens. With your filter mounted and the subject framed, you can rotate the filter to see how the image changes on your viewfinder. These filters are great for shooting landscapes, as they make colors pop and skies darken whilst reducing glare and reflections.
Top Tip: Avoid panning when photographing landscapes so that you don’t create uneven, dark areas in the sky. Also be careful using this filter with an ultra wide-angle lens as it may make the blue color of the sky appear uneven.
Color Correcting Filters
Color Correcting Filters are used to correct or enhance the colors in your image. Therefore, there are warming and cooling filters for correcting indoor lighting, and colored filters for bringing out preferred hues in a scene. These filters help with color conversion, color compensating and cooling and warming colors.
Drop In Filters
Drop Ins are mostly used with telephoto lenses due to their larger front elements, which screw-on filters don’t always mesh with. These filters are inserted into a special compartment near the rear part of the lens.
Neutral Density Filters
Neutral Density Filters are sheets of dark glass that reduce the light entering your lens and hitting the sensor. These are best for shoots with excessive sunlight or powerful studio lights. They don’t impact the color of your image at all, and you can still use the metering and focusing system with these filters attached.
Top Tip: These filters are perfect for shooting with slower shutter speeds without overexposure. In this case, make sure to use a tripod for more effective motion blur if photographing a moving subject.
Graduated Neutral Density Filter
GND Filters (also known as ND Grad Filters) have a vertical transition between dark and clear. This allows you to balance the exposure between sunny skies and darker foregrounds. These filters vary in darkness and are measured in stops. Essentially, the number of stops of light relates to how much it will darken the part of the scene that you’re wanting to capture.
There are 3 types of GND filters, which are:
- Hard-Edge GND Filter – Neutral gray half and a sharp transition to clear at the center. Best for balancing out high-contrast scenes.
- Soft-Edge GND Filter – Smoother gradient between dark and clear. Best for horizons that aren’t straight or flat.
- Reverse GND Filter – Most popular with landscape photographers for shooting sunrises and sunsets when the sun is closer to the horizon. These change from dark (for sky) to darker (for sun) on the top half, and are entirely clear on the lower half (for foreground).
Square Filters are usually used with a lens filter holder, which attaches to the front of the lens. To use various filters of different sizes, you’ll just need to get adapters for your lens filter holder. These filters work best for landscape photography!
Close Up Filters
Close Up Filters (aka Macro Filters or Diopters) enable macro photography without needing a macro lens. Think of them as reading or magnifying glasses to help your lens focus more closely on your subject.
Another great choice for landscape photographers are Rectangular Filters. These are mounted with a filter holder, and offer the photographer more space to move around the subject without the risk of uneven spots.
Special Effects Filters
Special Effects Filters serve various purposes. Some of these filter effects include:
- Starburst Filters for adding twinkle to highlights and light sources
- Infrared Filters
- Multi vision Filters
- Center Spot / Diffusion Filters
- Day For Night Filters
How Audiosocket Can Help
We hope that this article has given you some insight into different filters, and some exciting ideas for how to use them in shoots! Audiosocket always want to help photographers, filmmakers and creators in any way we can, such as licensing music for your films, trailers, websites and more!
If you are looking for authentic, top-quality music for your films or vlogs, why not check out Audiosocket? Your content deserves the best, so sign up today and access tens of thousands of songs to bring your vision to life! You can access Audiosocket’s music catalog for just $10 a month as a Personal creator. Not only that, but this allows you to license an unlimited number of tracks at no additional cost. Talk about win-win!
For more photography and content creation tips, check out our articles on Buying Used Cameras & Lenses, Travel Vlogging Equipment, Smartphone Camera Accessories For Creators, Green Screen Lighting Tips & Apps For Content Creation!