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Thread: Lens Filters

  1. #1
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    Lens Filters

    I didn't see a thread about filters, so I thought I'd start one.

    My wife and I are into photography. We do a lot of landscape shots and I decided to get her the the B+W 58mm (our lens size), circular polarizer filter for our Canon Rebel T3i.

    It works great, fits snugly, and allows for you to turn it in order to change intensity. The polarizing effect is great for sunny days outside.

    Additionally, it provides a layer of scratch protection on the lens. Of course, it's much better to scratch a filter than a few hundred dollar lens.

    I spoke with my wedding photographer and he said that he doesn't utilize polarizers or expensive filters because he does all his fine tuning in photoshop. So if you excel in that, then it may be more advantageous to stick with a cheap protective lens filters.

    What types of filters do you have/recommend?

  2. #2
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    Lens Filters

    I always keep an uv on my lenses (unless I'm using another filter) just to protect my lenses. I would gladly replace a filter over a lens any day.


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  3. #3
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    The effect of a polarizing filter is impossible or at least incredibly labour-intensive to recreate in post-processing. If anyone claims they can do it, I'd like to see how. Bright reflections from water, windows etc. can OE so badly that there simply isn't anything to recover even if you shot RAW. Also if there are trees or grass in the picture, a polarizer affects how the greens turn out. I rather use a filter than go through them leaf by leaf.

    I have a bunch of UV filters, some of them quite high grade even, but I've stopped using them except for specialized situations. The lens is not really that easily scratched.

  4. #4
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    Yup, polarizer is the one I have. You really can't reproduce the effect in "Chop", esp reducing glare.
    Best to get the best image you can in camera first. I've found myself getting lazy because "you can just fix it in chop!" and its a bad habit. Crooked framing, off exposure.

  5. #5
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    +1 for UV filter. Easy and inexpensive way to to protect your lenses from scratches.
    SS ==> Nut up or Shut up!

  6. #6
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    Personally, I'm torn on UV filters. Yes, I definitely see the benefit of protecting a lens but I've also seen the negatives where artifacts directly related to the filter destroy an otherwise great image.

  7. #7
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    How often do you hear about UV filters (or lenses, if bare) getting scratched? I've never scratched a lens and don't personally know anyone who has. To me the odds are like being struck by a lightning.

    And it's not like it's that bad even if it happens: expensive lenses can be repaired if damaged and you probably have insurance to cover accidents. Cheaper lenses are, well, cheap, and UV filters for all your lenses aren't free either. Very minor scratches don't really even affect image quality.

    So in one cup we have the cost of UV filters and their effect on every picture you take.
    In the other cup we have no money spent on UV filters and no possibility of them having a negative effect on your pictures, but a bit higher costs in case of a very unlikely accident.

    That said, there are situations where there's an increased risk of debris flying at the lens. If I'm taking close shots of mountainbikers passing me in mud, you can bet I'll have a protective filter on the lens.

  8. #8
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    In SoCal, a UV filter really helps cut through the glare and protects the lens. I don't really know what downsides you are talking about. Unless you're thinking about a possible f/stop adjustment, which is minor to nil. A quality UV or neutral density filter will have no effect on the image quality.

    As you can tell, i use UV filters because the price is worth the benefits. I also like being able to clean my lens in an emergency with spit and a sock without worrying about ruining a $400+ lens.

  9. #9
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    I'll chime in here. The three filters I use the most (and not necessarily for cycling photographs) are:

    • Polarizer filter
    • 3 to 10 stop N.D. filter
    • Graduated N.D. filter


    A polarizer not only does fun things to water, glass and sky's / clouds (when the sun is at 90 degrees +/- to the direction you are shooting), but also can enhance or saturate foliage in your shots. Of course there is exposure compensation needed when using this filter, which can be good or bad.

    An N.D. filter is a good tool when you have too much light. Shooting moving water, the N.D. can help you get an exposure where you can get the soft smooth water. Also, a "light" N.D. filter, maybe 3 stops or so can help you get those motion blur shots (of mountain bikers flying by).

    A graduated N.D. filter can really help when shooting landscapes where you have a bright sky with clouds and the like. With a filter like this you can help control the exposure in the sky and still maintain a good exposure in the land, trees, ocean, etc.

    I myself don't use a UV filter. I do have one for my 300mm, and like others have said, will use it if I'm shooting where I might(?) get something kicked up. Often times people say, "I'll screw on a cheep UV to protect my lens". The problem is the word "cheep". Every additional piece of glass you add can degrade your image. A good UV filter is going to cost you about $100. B+W makes some of the best filters, UV, N.D., etc. As far as getting good crisp outdoor shots, one of the best things you can do is keep light off the front element of your lens. Often times your "lens shade" will do this, but sometimes holding a small black card, or having someone hold it for you, and cast a shadow on the front of your lens is what you need to do. Now, of course this isn't going to work too well if you're shooting action sports, but keeping it in mind is always a good idea.
    .
    "...when your ride is nearly over, it seems to have lasted but an instant..."


    Stuff

  10. #10
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    If you like landscapes I give another vote for getting either a graduated ND filter or reverse graduated ND filter. The only filter I own is a Daryl Benson Reverse ND filter, and it gets constant use since I shoot a lot of sunrise/sunsets.

    As for UV filters, I don't use them, but I have scratched the front element on my most-used lens, the 17-40 f4. Since this lens isn't weather resistant without a screw-on filter, getting one should have been a no-brainer, but I cheaped-out. They do have their uses it seems.

    A bit OT, but anyone else own circular polarizers but never use them? I ended up getting a fancy schmancy Hoya HD, but I've yet to actually shoot anything with it other than test shots of water puddles.

  11. #11
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    Lens Filters

    I have a circular polarizer, takes away tons of glare and you get more detail in the pictures. Next to uv filters it's my most used one


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  12. #12
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    I have a set of ND filters (Tiffen) and a couple of polarizers (B&W). I use the ND filters whenever I shoot water and want to have that soft, milky look you get when you have a long exposure. Or if it's too bright and I want to shoot more wide open for less depth of field. Polarizers come on and off depending on the situation. I use them a lot when I'm shooting macro.

    As far as UV filters go. I used to buy one for each lens for extra protection. Now I just take them on and off depending on where I'm shooting. If I know there's going to be a lot of dirt I put one on, otherwise I don't really care. Having said that, I have found that with some lenses (particular wide angle when shooting into bright sources of light) you can get ghosting or minor colour shifts. More expensive filters do better better, but it can still be an issue in some situations depending on how picky you are.

  13. #13
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    My favorite filter is a ND (Neutral Density) filter as well.

    I've stacked a few of them for increased light reduction, and done the longer exposure even in bright daylight. You can sometimes compensate with aperature size instead, but if you want anything other than a nearly infinite depth of field, a neutral density is the way to go.


    I hate photoshop. I think it detracts from skillful photography, by allowing screw ups and less than stellar shots, because you can just correct everything you want digitally.

  14. #14
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    Here's a good article on filters -- and whether they can affect image quality:

    Do Filters Affect the Resolution of Lenses?


    -db-

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Saul Lumikko View Post
    How often do you hear about UV filters (or lenses, if bare) getting scratched?
    A bird at the zoo pecked my lens pretty good

  16. #16
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    If you are packing lenses valued at hundreds of dollars, don't sweat the UV. In contrast, if you are shooting lenses valued at thousands you might want to consider a UV to protect it. Polarizing filters are great for killing reflections, but you lose a stop or more and it's one more thing to pack around. You can easily mimic the the effects on blue skies, etc., in photoshop.

    As for "I hate photoshop. I think it detracts from skillful photography, by allowing screw ups and less than stellar shots, because you can just correct everything you want digitally.", I disagree. Every shot out of a digital camera requires some amount of post processing to balance shadows, highlights, contrast, etc., even to get a realistic rendition of the scene. If you are shooting B&W film and are inclined to tweak your development ('a la Ansel Adams), then that's a whole different story.

  17. #17
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    OTOH if you're shooting lenses valued at thousands I'd think you are aiming for ultimate quality, which filters will degrade, if even for a tiny amount. I'm not so religious about UV filter use now, used to have them on every lens. Now both my Canon L lenses I rarely have a filter on, partially lazy. I don't notice image quality difference, except perhaps a rare difference in flare.
    I do use polarizer fairly often. Guess I'm not a "Chop" wizard, I can't remove glare with software.

  18. #18
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    If you're just using it to protect the lens, instead of a UV filter, I'd recommend just using a lens hood instead. It's not quite the same thing, but it will prevent damage to the front element from most instances of bumping and banging the lens against something. Anything more catastrophic than that, and the UV filter probably isn't going to do much good either. Personal preference, though. A high quality UV filter has very little affect on image quality, though it will always increase the chance of lens flare.

    As for polarizers, I'm with root. Some effects can be mimicked in Photoshop, but since it actually affects the way light enters the lens, it's one of the few filters (arguably the only one) whose effects can't necessarily be replicated in post processing. And it's no surprise the OP's wedding photographer doesn't advocate polarizing filters. They can often make human skin look rather dull and lifeless, so it's extremely rare that you'll see a portrait photographer using one.

    I won't even touch the Photoshop argument. Those who hate it or think it's "cheating" will probably always feel that way.
    Don't listen to me. I'm too new to have an opinion yet.

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