Picking the perfect filters for your photography

It might be too easy to think that filters are unnecessary and conservative, but even with the use of photoshop, there is an argument for tradition popular filter effects.

Some photography filters, like polarisers and strong neutral density filters, can create effects which are time-consuming or even difficult to replicate digitally, while others, such as the simple skylight filter, let you shoot in conditions which could otherwise damage your lens.

Therefore, don’t rely on Photoshop for all your consequences; get out there and have fun that the conventional manner with all the five filters that every photographer should possess. They will transform your pictures overnight…

Round or square filters?
There are two main types of filter layout – round ones that screw directly into the thread on the front of a camera, and square ones, which slot into a filter holder that you will need to attach to the lens via an adapter ring (that is twisted into the front of a lens). Staffordshire Photographer Olivier Burnside of Olivier Burnside Wedding Photography very kindly gave us his thoughts on how to make the most of the lenses when taking wedding images.

Round, screw-in filters are perfect if you only need to use the filter on a single lens, or cameras with the same size thread, but if you have lenses with different thread sizes you will need different filters for each one.

With the square filter system, you just have to buy 1 set of filters, as these can then be connected to the lens using adaptors of different sizes.

Which type you should choose also depends on the type of filters you wish to use, as some filters are only really usable twisted straight to the lens or inside a square filter system.

Skylight filters, as an instance, are best suited to the round screw-in design, but filters like neutral density grads are natural to use in a square filter method.

Fundamental picture-taking filters:

1. Skylight filter

Used in Protecting the front element of your lens from damage or dirt. A skylight or ultraviolet filter is mainly utilised to protect the front of your lens from possible harm, and prevent you getting dirt, dust or water on the (harder to replace) front element of the lens.

All you will need to do is make sure the filter attached to your lens whenever you’re using the camera. It is essential when shooting in wet, muddy or dusty conditions.

UV and skylight filters also filter out some ultraviolet light, which affects reducing haze. As opposed to a UV filter, a skylight filter has a very implied pink cast to it. This was initially designed to decrease the slightly blue cast of the colour film, but with digital cameras, this isn’t an issue. Though this filter will block the worst of the dust, dirt and water reaching the front of the lens, you might still need to wash out the filter to stop this dirt changing your pictures.

For sand and grime, it’s best to use a brush or air blower to remove this without breaking the filter.

A great site for buying lenses is http://www.wexphotographic.com/lens-filters/ which has a wide range of filters suitable for all types of cameras.

If you attempt to wipe the filter clean, there’s a risk you will scratch the surface. Cleaning the filter to remove water drops has to be done extremely carefully, as it’s very likely that there’ll also be some dirt or dust that could become embedded in the cloth or tissue, and scratch the filter.

2. Polarising filter

Improving colour saturation and decreasing concentrations in non-metallic objects. Polarising filters come in a rotating mount, as their effect varies as you turn the screen. So, as soon as you’ve attached the polariser, and framed your shot, you will need to slowly rotate the filter when watching the effect through the viewfinder or in Live View. You will see reflections in non-metallic objects like water or glass surface and leave as you rotate the filter.

The filter will also improve the tone saturation, and darken blue skies, giving greater contrast between any sky and clouds.

This isn’t always immediately apparent, in particular through the viewfinder, so you may have to twist the filter further than one to judge the best adjustment for the impact you want. If this happens, you need to twist the filter until this goes, or even consider on removing the filter altogether.

Round or square?
As you will need to rotate the filter to correct the effect, polarisers are most commonly located in the round, screw-in design, and that’s the reason why they’re often known as circular polarisers or CPLs.
They’re available for some square filter systems, like the Cokin P series, though.

The latter is excellent for using with graduated neutral density filters, but they’re quite costly.

If you’re looking to buy filters we would recommend https://tiffen.com/tiffen-filters/ which provides some of the most robust filters in the market place today!