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All About Filters

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Turerkan View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Turerkan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: All About Filters
    Posted: 04 February 2008 at 12:33
I'd like to start a discussion about using filters. I know they were more popular in film days because it was the only way changing WB on the fly. If i split filters into categories this way, would i be missing anything?

UV/Skylight/Clear filters: used for protection mainly
Circular Polarisers: removes reflections, improves contrast and colors (?)
Close up Filters: Lowers the minimum focusing distance for macro shooting. Single element ones are optically bad, two element achromats are very good but expensive.
Neutral Density Filters: reduces exposure by blocking light
Gradual Neutral Density Filters: reduces exposure gradually across the frame, best used to enhance DR in bright sky/dark foreground compositions
Color Correction Filters: meant for white balance correction in film times. It might still be used to eliminate channel clipping under non-daylight conditions.
Color Filters: Used for B/W shooting in film days. Now the Channel Mixer of your favourite image editor does the same thing.

I'd also like to make a categorisation depending on optical qualities of filters. How good is the cheapest filter? how much better is the most expensive one? Is it possible to make a generalised categorisation of popular filter brands in terms of quality? is there brands that must be avoided?

Edit: here is an essential comparison test of 20 different UV filters. a must read!

Edited by Turerkan - 13 May 2009 at 20:21
 



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alberto View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote alberto Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 February 2008 at 12:42
Just two little things: linear polarizers seem to be missing, and there are also gradual neutral density filters to correct vignetting (e. g. the one supplied with 18/4 ZM lens).

Another point would be showing a typical ghost produced by the usage of filter when shooting a bright source of light. It makes many people to spend a lot of time guessing "what is wrong".

More ideas coming soon.
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Bob J View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Bob J Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 February 2008 at 13:04
Polarisers: Reduce/modify reflections from shiny surfaces and water (where they can improve the visibility of objects underwater considerably), improve saturation of colour, deepen colour of blue skies at right-angles to the sun (and thereby give better contrast with clouds), mild ND properties, linear types may cause problems with modern autofocus and metering systems; most currently on sale are 'Circular' (nothing to do with shape of filter) and may be labeled CPL. Using a polariser with extreme wide-angle lenses may emphasise the difference in polarising effects at right-angles and in-line with the sun - leading to a gradation of the polarising effect being visible in the picture (not always seen as desirable). Polarisers come in a rotating mount to allow the polarising effect to be tuned to the scene; because of this they are mainly useful on SLR cameras where the effect can be previewed. Lenses without rotating front elements are easier to use with polarising filters, otherwise adjustment of the filter effect must be done after focusing.
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Bob J View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Bob J Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 February 2008 at 13:06
UV/Skylight/Clear filters: Used for protection mainly - Don't do it!
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Bob J View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Bob J Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 February 2008 at 13:12
But seriously...
UV/Skylight/Clear filters: Often used for protection; as with all filters, can have an adverse effect on image quality through increaced flare, so good coated examples are important: this tends to be mentioned more for these filters than others because they tend to be left on the lens permenantly (while others are fitted and removed as required) and because they have relatively little beneficial effect other than for protection. Skylight or Haze filters have a slight pink tint and are beneficial for reducing the effect of haze at altitude.

...Regarding colour filters - I seem to remember someone coming up with a situation in which they were still useful, but I can't remember what it was (perhaps if shooting B&W straight from the camera?).

The other type you used to get a lot of in Cokin filters were special effects ones (starbursts etc), which I think are now totally obsolete..



Edited by Bob J - 04 February 2008 at 13:18
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CTYankee View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote CTYankee Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 February 2008 at 15:03
David Kilpatrick wrote a bit about CC filters on digital some time ago. He was able to show much better results in funky lighting due to limited information in certain color channels when relying on PPing to change the color. I can see the point; when I set WB for low light tungsten shots, I get a lot of blue channel noise. But then, I'm usually shooting in such low light (wide open, slow shutter) that I wouldn't be able to use a light-robbing CC filter anyway.
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quinnt View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote quinnt Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 July 2008 at 08:18
hi i am new to photography and just want some advice there are really cheap polarising filters on trademe are they worth it??
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Post Options Post Options   Quote zk-cessnaguy Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 July 2008 at 08:26
Hi quinnt, and welcome from a fellow Kiwi!

I've bought two cheap polarisers off Trademe, one works just fine and the other was a frisbee. So I guess you pays your money and you takes your chances...
Of course, you have to use a circular polariser (CPL) for it to work correctly with you dSLR.
Good luck
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Post Options Post Options   Quote brettania Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 July 2008 at 08:41
Welcome from me as well Quinn.

The best polarizers do not often appear on TradeMe. It's definitely one area where there can be a big variation in quality. I purchased a top quality Hoya via eBay for my 70-200 SSM.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote wetapunga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 July 2008 at 09:06
These days I stick to Hoya and B+W filters. Alas, in photography so often you only get what you pay for. My odd foray into Trademe has confirmed that view.

Going back to the original post however, I am actually making use of soft-spot filters. Not always of course, but sometimes it's just easier to screw one on to the camera than to replicate the effect later in a photo-editor.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Gabriel Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 July 2008 at 11:01
IR filters anyone?
They are rarely used, but might be worth mentioning.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Gabriel Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 July 2008 at 11:03
ND filters: as they reduce light, they are often used when shooting architecture. By significantly increasing exposure time, they allow to get rid of people who would otherwise be visible on the shot.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote dCap Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 July 2008 at 11:18
I see in digital the use of just three filters:
- pola ... for the reflection thing, its photo only and not doable in post
- nd ... if you need to reduce shutter speed for effect
- ir ... or get a camera converter to IR

mmmmmmm ... grads ... if you shoot landscape (but if this was me and I was shooting on a tripod, I'd rather shoot two frames: one for the sky and one for the land and then play with some layers in post to merge the two together (I'm not talking about the woeful HDR stuff, I'm talking about making a landscape/scene look real-ish)

UVs etc. Yes i get the point about having them for protection. But if you are not clumsy and have say 8 lenses then its cheaper not to have any UVs in place (put the money in the bank and buy a replacement lens if you do ding one on the front element).

remember that all filter degrade the quality of the image, so if you really must have a UV for protection you should be getting a really good one ... they are NOT cheap, so its probably cheaper to not get any.

cheap filters, forget about it unless you want to get into Lomo look images
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quinnt View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote quinnt Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 July 2008 at 10:37
thanks for that
i didnt know id get such a quick response from so many people!

quinnt
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