Filters, which to use?


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Jan 5, 2012
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Amman, Jordan.
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Ok, so Ive been reading around a lot about lens filters, and I would just like to get everyone's opinions. I looked at UV Filters, Polarizing Filters, Grad ND Filters....etc. And what i wanna know is which one to use and when, here some scenario's:

Everyday Shooting (Indoor & Outdoor)
Long Exposure (Indoor n Outdoor) << Usually at night

Thanks! :)
UV is not needed for digital cameras.

ND, ND grads for landscapes.

Maybe star-point for citycsapes (although proper aperture or post software can acheive the same effect).

I would suggest you learn proper composition and exposure first, before a foray into the world of filters.
Many people here use UV for protection, many don't. There's endless debates on this forum about using filters for protection and no one is more right than the other since we all base it on various experiences. But sparky is right in that UV filters have no effect on digital cameras like they did for film. They aren't needed in any specific photography, but if you use it for protection it may be worth it for a specific situation. i.e. if you go for protection you're unlikely to need it for long exposures vs for sports.

The only real must need filter in people's arsenal is a Polariser for landscapes. Everything else starts towards personal preference or specific shots. Want to blur a waterfall, you need an ND filter. Want to capture a scene with wide dynamic range without taking multiple exposures and combining them in post, you need an ND Grad filter.
Definitely agree on the polarizer. A regular ND filter is useful, but the type of ND filter I found I use for landscapes is the graduated ND filter (as sparky already mentioned). There are often times when the difference between the sky and the land/water is too great to properly capture, and the graduated ND filter help in reducing the intensity of light in the upper part to be closer to that in the lower part. I don't use it often, but it is a very good tool under the right circumstances.
Polarizers are useful in lots of situations. It's quite a specific effect, and you can make it work to your advantage a lot of different ways. Essentially a polarizer blocks reflected light from entering the lens based on the angle of the reflection. So, for sunlight reflecting off haze in the sky, you can make a sky bluer and have more contrast in clouds. When there's light reflecting off the surface of water, you can block it out and see through the surface instead. If you're shooting macro's of flowers in bright sun, you can tame the highlights where the sun hits. etc...
Circular polariser. Use the money you save on buying other filters to get a good one :)O
Yeah, good point about quality. None of these filters are even worth having unless you can afford to get a nice multicoated one by a reputable company. B+W is the name that gets tossed around most often, and for good reason. Cheap filters mess with your contrast, sharpness, and create all kinds of flare. The nice ones control all these aberrations to an impressive degree.
Great info, thanks for posting all.
Occasionally ND to reduce exposure in weddings when you want a very shallow DOF and need to reduce exposure more.
ND for waterfalls and landscapes.
I like to use a skylight filter in the fall for colors and landscapes. It's about the only filter I routinely use.
Polarizer for anything reflective-water, glass, glasses...

I RARELY if ever use filters other than my fall landscape stuff. Here is my reasoning: I can replicate the look in post processing. If I get a client who says "do you have it without {THIS} on it?" Yep. I do.

Having a decent quality UV filter and a little bit of ingenuity can be nice... A little Vaseline makes a great soft focus or almost a tilt shift/lens baby effect. A little food coloring on your Vaseline can make some pretty bizarre fun things... Make sure you carry a bottle of glass wipes with you to clean it before you put it back in your bag... Or a baggie to put it in. Been there done THAT too.
Ok, so I've understood the general principles. One last question, which one would you guys use for an indoor wedding or for a an standard outdoor wedding at night?
In my opinion, polarisers and neutral density is the most important. UV filters aren't as important, if you need one, get a good one.

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