Choosing the Right Filter for the Right Application

Today’s Post by Joe Farace

When it comes to camera filters, there are those photographers who love them and those that hate’em. Many purists don’t like filters because they don’t want anything coming between reality and the captured image. Filter fans and I’ll confess to being one don’t worry about resolution charts and like to have fun with their photography. If you’re on the fence, here are a few filters you might want to consider.

For a short time, I was persuaded by that perfectionist’s argument and was shooting at a car show (above) with a Canon EF 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 EF-S lens attached to my camera. While walking through the trade show the front element of my lens came in contact with a wire display rack. S-c-r-a-t-c-h. That was the end of my flirtation with perfection. Look for more about this incident in a special episode of Stupid Photographer Tricks for my car photography blog.

When working under difficult environmental conditions, such as blowing dust or sand, the right filter will protect your expensive camera lens. A UV filter is helpful when photographing mountain and marine scenes and can even prevent you from a spontaneous outbreak of stupidity as in my above experience. The big deal with filters, especially with wide-angle lenses, is that sometimes the mount is so thick it can cause vignetting. Slim-mount filters minimize or eliminate the problem.

B+W’s  XS-Pro UV Haze MRC-Nano 010M filter ($33.95 for 67mm) is designed to absorb ultraviolet light and reduce daylight’s bluish cast. To prevent ghosting and reflections while providing 99.8% light transmission, each glass surface includes layers of anti-reflection coating. The thin brass filter ring helps to prevent vignetting, jamming while providing additional strength.

Another useful filter is the Circular Polarizer that can remove unwanted reflections from non-metallic surfaces such as water or glass. The filter can also saturate colors, produce better contrast and remove reflections from leaves for dramatic landscape photos. A circular polarizer differs from a linear polarizer because it supports full use of a camera’s autofocus and auto exposure functions.

Singh-Ray’s LB Neutral Circular Polarizer Thin Mount Filter ($240 for 67mm) reduces reflections and glare by filtering out light that’s become polarized due to reflection from a non-metallic surface. The LB designation stands for “Lighter, Brighter”, which refers to the filter’s lower optical density that enables faster shutter speeds or smaller apertures. The thin mount measures 4.8mm-thick and prevents vignetting when used with wide-angle lenses. It does not have front threads for stacking filters or using a clip-on style lens cap.


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