Beginners Guide to Camera Lens Filters

Beginners Guide to Camera Lens Filters

Beginners Guide to Camera Lens Filters

Many new photographers, however, find themselves confused by a large number of filters available. What are their objectives and how do you determine how to use them? First, let's review what a filter is and how it is used, and then we will review all the main types of filters and how they affect colour and black and white film. Most of the beginners are confused about which filters to use for their purpose, here I am going to share Beginners Guide to Camera Lens Filters.

Beginners Guide to Camera Lens Filters
ND Filter Photography

Beginners Guide to Camera Lens Filters
 Types of Camera Filters

Filter Basics

A camera filter is basically a piece of glass or plastic that is usually attached to the front of a camera lens. There are many types of filters to fit many forms of the camera, but the most common filters are round with threaded edges that screw onto the end of a camera lens.

To use a filter, simply attach it to the front of the camera lens. Light passing through the camera to the film must first pass through the filter, causing the filter to work. For an SLR or TLR camera, you can get a good idea of ​​how the filter will change things by looking through the viewfinder. With point and shoots, however, you will be really working in the dark as most P&S; the viewfinders of the cameras do not really show what the lens sees.

One of the best things about filters is that they can be combined to achieve multiple effects. This allows you to really personalize your shots. You can just use a filter to filter out the sun's reflections, or get as wild as adding light stars and a blue haze to everything! Filters can be divided into 10 main groups, so let's take a look at each group and the filters that belong to it. When we're done, you'll have a good idea of ​​what filters you can use to do what.

Skylight, Haze & UV Filters

These filters are generally colourless or pale pink and are served to cut down on the effect that ultraviolet has on daytime shots. With the UV effect reduced, colour landscapes and other outdoor shots did have as strong a blue cast. It also helps to reduce distortion in a picture (such as the heat waves you might see if you look at a dark road in hot weather).

Lastly, these are lenses serve as a good, affordable way of protecting the main lens from scratches, dust, fingerprints, and potential damage by taking the hits itself. It's much cheaper to replace a $10-20 filter than having to replace a $100-500 lens because the actual glass got scratched or damaged.

The main difference between them is that the skylight has a pinkish tinge and will remove excessive blue and UV light, increasing the contrast. It gives a slightly warmer appearance to color images. Haze filters will add yellow to counteract excessive blur and sharpen the image in hazy conditions, while the UV filter primarily blocks out the UV light which reduces the blue or violet cast that it can cause. Some consider the UV to almost be redundant now because the most high-quality lens already has a UV coating on them.

Coloured Filters

Coloured filters allow only the parts of the UV rays that are closely related to it pass through while stopping complementary colours from appearing. They are available in three levels depending on strength and come in the three primary colours (red, yellow, blue) and three complementary colours (cyan, magenta, green). The main rule of thumb is to remember that each complementary colour will block the non-contributing primary (for example cyan blocks red) and that a primary colour filter will block the other two primaries.

These are particularly useful for black and white photography, as the film is more sensitive to ultraviolet and blue than our eyes are. This causes blue skies to appear very pale in a black and white photograph, even though we remember it being very vivid. Using a yellow filter will cause some of the blue and UV to be absorbed, and thereby deepen the sky tone making it darker. An orange filter darkens it more, and a red filter will yield dark skies and dramatic clouds. You must remember, though, that these filters will lighten colours similar to themselves, so if you shoot a red apple with a red filter, the apple will appear brighter than reality.

Colour filters can also be used with colour film to produce surrealistic effects on a shot. When used with colour film, however, the effect is almost the opposite of its normal look. Instead of fading its colours, it will enhance them, though it might also cause everything else in the picture to be tinged with the same colour. For example, using a green filter with the colour film on a landscape shot will produce an image with vivid green trees and grass, but the sky will look odd.


Polarizing filters come in two types: first one linear and second one circular. The one to use depends on your type of camera. Auto-focus cameras or those with internal metering systems require a circular polarizer to avoid interference with the camera's internal systems. So for the majority of modern SLRs, a circular lens is the way to go. But for older, less complicated cameras that have no auto-focusing methods and require you to meter light yourself, then a linear polarizer will work fine.

Polarizers serve some important purposes and are really a must-have for any camera kit. Not only do these lenses darken blue skies without effecting other colours, but they also reduce reflect and glare from a variety of objects while increasing contrast. This allows for better shots over water, through the glass, etc.

Beginners Guide to Camera Lens Filters
Polarize Filter


Neutral-Density (ND) Filters

Also called light reducing filters, ND filters cut down the amount of light that comes through the lens of the camera. These are a great lens for correcting the light when it's too bright for the film speed you have loaded. For example, you happen to be outside on a really bright day and want to take some shots, but all you have loaded is 800 or 1200 speed film. ND filters come in a variety of strengths to block 1, 2, 3, or more f-stops of light.

Beginners Guide to Camera Lens Filters
ND Filter

Graduated Filters

A graduated filter is a great way to use two or more effects on different parts of the same frame of film. The majority of graduated filters are split into halves or thirds. Many have a colour enhancing effect on one part while having little or no effect on the others, while some have different colour effects for all parts. One popular graduated filter is the sunset filter, which has a colour-enhancing effect at the top to bring out the rich colours of a sunset, or give a dramatic sky the appearance of having occurred at sunset, while not affecting the rest of the shot.

Color-Balancing Filters

Like the name suggests, colour-balancing filters are designed to help balance the colour sensitivity of a film to the light source being used. And 80A filter helps eliminate the yellow tinge that appears in pictures taken indoors with Tungsten lighting (i.e. regular light bulbs) and outdoor film. The 85B colour-balancing filter, on the other hand, allows Tungsten sensitive film to still produce great outdoor shots.

Star Filters

Generally referred to as cross-screens, these filters cause pinpoints of light and highlights to turn into multi-pointed lights. These are easy to identify because the lens looks like someone has drawn a graph across it. Star filters come in several varieties, depending on the number of points on the star produced. A 6x cross-screen produces 6 points, while a 12x would produce 12. Currently, they are available with 2-16 points, generally even-numbered. Some of the stronger star filters can cause a slight reduction in image sharpness.



Diffusion, or soft-focus, filters have the pebbled surface that causes the light to spread more, thereby softening an image to give it a dream-like appearance. They are available in a variety of strengths, with stronger filters, greatly reducing the overall picture sharpness.

A fog filter is a special variety of diffusion filter that contains extra particles and pebbles to scatter light just like real fog. They soften the picture considerably while muting colours, lowering contrast, and causing a halo to appear on lights.

Beginners Guide to Camera Lens Filters
Diffusers Pic 1

Beginners Guide to Camera Lens Filters
Diffuser Pic 1.1


Special-Effects Filters

There are hundreds of special effect filters available on the market to produce interesting images and give photographers a chance to really stretch their creativity. Some special-effects filters include ones that create multiple images in the same frame, ones that blur parts of the image to give the appearance of high-speed action, and shape filters that cause images to be taken in various shapes (such as a star...the rest of the negative frame stays blank). Check out any good filter catalogue to see some of the many options available. Beginners Guide to Camera Lens Filters is the most important factor in photography.

Thank you for reading.

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