Filters are so confusing!

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by keller, Mar 1, 2006.

  1. keller

    keller TPF Noob!

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    I've never used filters before (except for a UV to protect my lens). Having read Ken Rockwell's article on filters, I'm even more confused! Reading books and even this forum's posts on filters confuses me even more.

    I think I'm stuck at the basic level - I understand that filters are supposed to enhance a photo, and I sort of know the effects of polarizers, colour filters, etc.

    But I don't understand which filter to buy (there seems to be a million different combinations!). I mostly shoot landscape and cityscape shots, both day and night.

    I know I should get a graduated ND filter to prevent overexposure of the sky, but what else should I get? I thought about polarizers, but Ken Rockwell's article says they're bad for Fuji Velvia films. I also figured some colour filters would be useful, but all those numbers (81-D and stuff) are pretty confusing.
     
  2. PlasticSpanner

    PlasticSpanner TPF Noob!

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    The numbers are just a way to identify the same filters through different brands.

    Filters are used to cure problems with exposure and colour. Start with a set of ND filters (1, 2 & 4) and colour graduated filters like a blue grad for skies.

    Get filters for your biggest lens & buy stepping rings to make them fit your smaller lenses. Alternatively get a filter holder with the adapter rings to fit your lenses.
     
  3. MyCameraEye

    MyCameraEye TPF Noob!

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    If you shoot digital, there are only two filters you will ever need. Polarizer and a ND Grad. Maybe a ND if you shoot a lot of waterfall shots during mid day and if you want to shoot intrared shots a IR but othe then that, everything else can be done in photoshop.

    Scott
     
  4. Unimaxium

    Unimaxium TPF Noob!

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    Polarizers rock. Grab a nice one.

    It's also a good idea to keep a clear UV filter on your lens whenever you're not using another filter. The main purpose is just to protect it. It's a lot better to get a nasty scratch on a $30 filter than on a $500 lens.
     
  5. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    Yes, mainly to deal with the millions of potential lighting situations. Most filters are for very specific lighting conditions (like to correct for the green glass when shooting through an aquarium), and aren't normally very useful, so no point in wasting your money.

    For color film I carry a polarizer, and a general warming filter. NDs and split NDs can be handy.

    For BW film I like a polarizer, a red, a yellow, an orange, a yellow-green, and green. NDs and split NDs might be handy here too.

    For digital I carry a polarizer. Many folks like NDs or split NDs, but I'm using Photoshop masking/layers or HDR to deal with those issues.
     
  6. Torus34

    Torus34 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Keller:

    Information, please: Film or digital camera? B&W or color film? Cannot advise without knowing.
     
  7. binglemybongle

    binglemybongle TPF Noob!

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    Does it matter if you leave you UV on all the time and screw a second filter onto that?
     
  8. PlasticSpanner

    PlasticSpanner TPF Noob!

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    It wouldn't make much difference to normal photography except that each layer of glass has the potential to trap more dust! Just make sure it's clear before putting on another filter.

    If you were shooting in low light or a dark scene with point light sources like streetlights you might find that with more filters attatched you may get double images and "ghosts"
     
  9. Torus34

    Torus34 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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  10. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    Besides dust, there are other issues with stacking filters. Every glass/air surface increases the chance for lens flare. Sometimes it can be a subtle lowering of contrast. Also, depending on the angle of view of the lens, it's possible to cause vignetting if you stack too many filters.

    I'd say remove the UV unless it's really inconvenient, but stacking 2 filters shouldn't give you huge problems. Using high quality, multi-coated filters would help, and always use a lens hood.
     
  11. keller

    keller TPF Noob!

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    Hey thanks for the tips. I've decided to go out and buy myself a circular polariser to start with, and see how it goes. Then later, maybe also a graduated ND filter to get rid of those overexposed skies.
     

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