What filters are a must have for landscape and ocean shots?

nikonrooki84

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I am completely new to photography, purchased a Nikon D3100 to learn with. I was recently on the beach trying to get some shots, and another person doing the same advised me to get some ND filters to help with the over exposure. The only place I can find them in Charleston SC was Best Buy that had any filters. I purchased one of each they had that fit my camera. The only ND filter they had was a ND 4. Not sure exactly what that means but I am thinking its the strength of the filter. I am still having issues with my shots coming out over exposed. I can fix in PS but then my sky looks weird. Can someone please tell me what filters are a most have to start off with and where to purchase them as the BB ones seem really cheap. I have searched ebay and amazon not sure what brands are good or bad.

Thanks
 

480sparky

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Before you start messing around with any filters, it would be best if you learn the basics of the camera itself. So to start with, let's have you post some samples of your images that you're having issues with right now and see if we can't get those corrected first.
 

radiorickm

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Well, first off, yes ND means Neutral Density. It is basically a colorless filter that will restrict light. And yes, the number is it's strength (in STOPS) usually.
They will function as you imagine, simply by just letting less light into your camera.

But what may suit better, is a GRADUATED ND filter. It transitions from dark to light: so you can put the dark part over the sky, and the light part over the ocean/landscape, and reduce the difference in brightness to an amount that your camera can handle. Google or hop on E-Bay and search Graduated ND filter.

The other filter you might look into is a CIRCULAR POLARIZER. This one, when adjusted correctly, will help cut reflections and glare; useful on land and water.

Also, if you are in the salt spray....maybe consider a plain UV filter for the lens just to protect the front glass of the lens. (Optional)

As far as brands...well you get what you pay for usually. HOYA and the other brand names are great. The GND's you will find mostly the generic knock-off's on E-Bay, and they will be the sheet kind, instead of screwing onto the front of the lens.

Good Luck and keep shooting!
 

KmH

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GND = GRADUATED ND filter

CPL =
CIRCULAR POLARIZing filter

Hoya, makes some good multi-coated filters, and they make some not so good filters.

The rectangular filters can be used with a wider variety of lens filter thread sizes. The GND's can be hand held in front of the lens to aid placement of the dark/clear line in the image frame.

Cheap filters cause a number of image quality issues, like soft focus, chromatic aberration, lens flare, and Newton's Rings -
Newton's rings - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
I recommend Lee or B+W filters unless you can afford the even better brands like Singh-Ray, Heliopan, etc.

Expect to pay $100+ for quality filters that threads onto the front of your lens. By larger filters and step rings so they can be used on smaller filter tread sizes. Most 18-55 mm kit klenses have 52 mm filter threads. Look on your lens for a notation like this - 52 Ø, 77 Ø, etc. The symbol Ø = diameter .
B+W 77mm Kaesemann Circular Polarizer with Multi-Resistant Coating
For wide angle lenses - B+W 77MM Circular Polarizer Slim Mount Multi Coated Filter

A good GND filter - Heliopan 77mm Graduated Neutral Density 4x Filter
 
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cynicaster

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I've always wondered about GND filters in a threaded form factor. I love the convenience of just being able to thread a filter onto the lens, but is this limiting in practice for GND? I would think it would force you to compose your shot a certain way all the time, as opposed to a filter in a holder, which would allow you to move the "horizon" up and down as you please. Can anybody provide some comment on this?
 

480sparky

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I've always wondered about GND filters in a threaded form factor. I love the convenience of just being able to thread a filter onto the lens, but is this limiting in practice for GND? I would think it would force you to compose your shot a certain way all the time, as opposed to a filter in a holder, which would allow you to move the "horizon" up and down as you please. Can anybody provide some comment on this?


A threaded GND is about useless. It forces you to place the graduation right across the center of the image..... a compositional no-no. (Unless you want to shoot an excessive amount of the image and crop it heavily in post..... the result would be a huge loss of pixels.)
 

KmH

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I've always wondered about GND filters in a threaded form factor. I love the convenience of just being able to thread a filter onto the lens, but is this limiting in practice for GND? I would think it would force you to compose your shot a certain way all the time, as opposed to a filter in a holder, which would allow you to move the "horizon" up and down as you please. Can anybody provide some comment on this?

I did in the post you only partially quote:

The rectangular filters can be used with a wider variety of lens filter thread sizes. The GND's can be hand held in front of the lens to aid placement of the dark/clear line in the image frame.

 

Tailgunner

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Hum...I'm no Pro but it just seems to me that filters is slightly advanced photography. If I suggested anything starting out for someone new, that would be a good UV filter to help protect the front lens element.
 

weepete

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The short answer to the OP is none are essential. What is absolutley key is to get there and have great light, and that usualy means around dawn or dusk where the light levels are balanced so blowing out highlights is not an issue. Of course I all depends on what kind of shot you want to take, stormy skies can be really moody and when used with a slow shutter speed seas can be silky and that can be a great look if you can get the right light. Shooting in the hours around midday just doesn't cut the mustard unfortunatley.

A CPL is really useful and would be my first buy as it can increase contrast and help cut out reflections in the surface of the water. I use mine a lot.

ND filters are less useful, good for slowing your shutter speed down to get silky water but not much else.

GNDs can be a bit more useful but they only chage the sky a little and stacking the cheap ones can add a strange colour cast.

I got a cheap set off ND and GND filters off eBay months ago and have yet to use them! But at £15 delivered they are worth a punt to me.
 

GaryT

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From one 'noob' to another, like the lads said start with the basics and go from there. Try get your head around the exposure triangle, dof and composition before you start with filters. Otherwise you won't be able to actually use it properly.


Get onto YouTube and watch some vids on the basics
 

CallibCarver

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When I got into photography I taught myself everything, and I have a basic filter I believe it's a ultraviolet filter. I've had it so long the filters name and everything else has rubbed off. But in general it's good to have some kind of basic filter on the lens because on the off hand you bump the lens or something minor or something hits the lens you can damage or break a filter and that is $20 or you can scratch or break the lens glass which is $200. Now I do agree that you should learn the camera before messing with filters and doing anything super special, but doing that is how I learned and again the filter is a cheap but nice safety feature for helping protect your lens, mind you that isn't really their purpose.
 

mpasq66

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As a semi-noob also, I bought the cheap stuff that I THOUGHT I needed at first, and am just now "re-buying" the same stuff (of better quality) that I DO need. So take it slow, you'll figure out what you need after awhile, and go from there.... your wallet will appreciate it! (And yes, it's hard to do) :)

Mike
 

Buckster

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From my point of view, after some 40 years of shooting, and as someone who's used a LOT of filters over the years for creative purposes, as well as "protective" reasoning, I say there are only two kinds of filters needed for anything in the digital age. They are:

1. A Circular Polarizer for cutting glare and making blue skies richer.
2. An assortment of Neutral Density Filters.
  • Assortment of full frame or a variable density ND for daytime use to slow shutters for things like waterfalls, or to open apertures without overexposing, and that sort of thing.
  • MAYBE Graduated NDs for balancing skies with foregrounds in situations where that will work. Flat horizons come to mind. But when vertical elements take up residence in both upper and lower halves of the composition, like people tend to do when they're the subject, say on a beach, or trees, or anything else, then it starts to fall apart as a method, when the top half of the person is dimmed down along with the sky, and the horizon line cuts through them along with the horizon and everything south of that line is brighter. For that reason, I usually just go with two shots instead of the graduated ND these days, and blend them in post production with a mask. But to each his own.

I used UV filters for nearly 30 years with film because UV was an actual issue with that medium. Digital cameras have a UV filter built in over the sensor already, so a UV filter over the lens does nothing. Salesman still sell them to noobs on the grounds that they "protect" the expensive lens, but that's never been proven to be the case. The thin, easily broken glass isn't meant to protect anything. Instead, there are stories of it shattering on impact and the shards scratching the expensive lens.

And even if it never gets broken, there's a very real issue of it degrading that expensive lens' image quality. We get lots of folks showing up here with example photos that have problems they want help figuring out the cause of, and a LOT of the time, it's the UV filter. They cause reflections, glare, flares, orbs, Newton rings, and so on. It's said that if you buy the really expensive name brand ones, they don't do it "as much". I've bought them and used them, and I'm here to tell you: It's a myth. They can cause all those same problems.

Some folks say stuff like, "but if you were on a beach in a sandstorm with sand whipping around like mad, it would protect your lens". Maybe that's true. But I've shot on beaches and in deserts with dust and sand blowing around, and my lenses show no scratches from shooting in those environments without "protection". And if a full blown sand storm with sand whipping around with the force to damage my gear were to ever actually blow up while I was shooting, I'd just put my camera away and head for shelter.

The only time I ever use a UV filter these days is when I'm shooting one of my old film cameras. I wouldn't put one on a lens parked on one of my digital cameras unless someone was paying me for the photos coming from that shoot and insisted on it.

As for the rest, the colored creative filters and so on, I never use any of those any more. All of that stuff is done in post production now, where infinite control of all aspects of color, hue, saturation, masking, contrast and more are far, FAR superior to the limitations involved with using creative filters like that on a lens at the time of shooting.

Just one guy's opinion/perspective, but that's my take on it.
 

TruckerDave

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From my point of view, after some 40 years of shooting, and as someone who's used a LOT of filters over the years for creative purposes, as well as "protective" reasoning, I say there are only two kinds of filters needed for anything in the digital age. They are:

1. A Circular Polarizer for cutting glare and making blue skies richer.
2. An assortment of Neutral Density Filters.

[*]Assortment of full frame or a variable density ND for daytime use to slow shutters for things like waterfalls, or to open apertures without overexposing, and that sort of thing.
[*]MAYBE Graduated NDs for balancing skies with foregrounds in situations where that will work. Flat horizons come to mind. But when vertical elements take up residence in both upper and lower halves of the composition, like people tend to do when they're the subject, say on a beach, or trees, or anything else, then it starts to fall apart as a method, when the top half of the person is dimmed down along with the sky, and the horizon line cuts through them along with the horizon and everything south of that line is brighter. For that reason, I usually just go with two shots instead of the graduated ND these days, and blend them in post production with a mask. But to each his own.


I used UV filters for nearly 30 years with film because UV was an actual issue with that medium. Digital cameras have a UV filter built in over the sensor already, so a UV filter over the lens does nothing. Salesman still sell them to noobs on the grounds that they "protect" the expensive lens, but that's never been proven to be the case. The thin, easily broken glass isn't meant to protect anything. Instead, there are stories of it shattering on impact and the shards scratching the expensive lens.

And even if it never gets broken, there's a very real issue of it degrading that expensive lens' image quality. We get lots of folks showing up here with example photos that have problems they want help figuring out the cause of, and a LOT of the time, it's the UV filter. They cause reflections, glare, flares, orbs, Newton rings, and so on. It's said that if you buy the really expensive name brand ones, they don't do it "as much". I've bought them and used them, and I'm here to tell you: It's a myth. They can cause all those same problems.

Some folks say stuff like, "but if you were on a beach in a sandstorm with sand whipping around like mad, it would protect your lens". Maybe that's true. But I've shot on beaches and in deserts with dust and sand blowing around, and my lenses show no scratches from shooting in those environments without "protection". And if a full blown sand storm with sand whipping around with the force to damage my gear were to ever actually blow up while I was shooting, I'd just put my camera away and head for shelter.

The only time I ever use a UV filter these days is when I'm shooting one of my old film cameras. I wouldn't put one on a lens parked on one of my digital cameras unless someone was paying me for the photos coming from that shoot and insisted on it.

As for the rest, the colored creative filters and so on, I never use any of those any more. All of that stuff is done in post production now, where infinite control of all aspects of color, hue, saturation, masking, contrast and more are far, FAR superior to the limitations involved with using creative filters like that on a lens at the time of shooting.

Just one guy's opinion/perspective, but that's my take on it.

A rational well written post that should be required reading by all new shooters before buying filters.
 

orb9220

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+1 Buckster well written.

I also never fell for that I need a UV for protecting the lens. In 7 years of shooting always with a lens Hood on for not only protection but help eliminate some of the sun flares,etc..

I also thought a flimsy Filter will not protect the lens which has a much thicker and sturdier front element.
A shattered broken filter does not = That is what would have happen to my lens front element statements or pics of people posting. In fact there is a chance that the shattered shards can and do scratch the lens.

People always assume the front element is some fragile delicate piece of glass and for the most part much sturdier than people give them credit.

For me it's Hoods 24/7 even in the bag are mounted on lens for a quick take out a shoot as don't use lens caps either.
Out of over 12 lenses through the years. In rain,sleet & snow. Banging here and there Zero scratched lens elements.

Not much you can do about dropping your setup. But I think if I do then would rather there not be a flimsy thin filter on it. That may shatter and maybe scratch my glass or get ding and jammed on the filter threads.

As to the OP you are moving way to fast.
Ease off the accelerator and slow down and take the time to learn your camera and it's capabilities.

First becoming intimate with understanding exposure and your camera controls to achieve what you see.
Then you will be in a better place to make decisions on what filters you need.

Just recently myself after 7 years purchased a ND filter still CP yet.
So there are no hurries here and it's not a race.
.
 

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