The Filters We Need With Digital...

Started Oct 5, 2008 | Discussions thread
OP Joseph S Wisniewski Forum Pro • Posts: 34,130
Hi Bob...

Bob Sal wrote:

A more complete list of filters for digital cameras would be:

I'd have to respectfully disagree with the "more complete list".

1: UV filters. The optics and sensors in a digital camera do not
completely block all UV and a loss of sharpness due to UV rays as
well as the bluish tints in distance scenes (especially at altitude)
are eliminated by using a UV filter.

I've done a bit of testing on this, both outdoors in architectural and landscape settings, and indoors with UV light sources, and I've never seen a "UV(0)" or "haze" filter that altered an image noticeably. You need to go to outrageous lengths, the yellowish UV(1) or the weird, fluorescing B+W 415 to get a noticeable improvement over the camera's onboard filtering combined with a modern lens.

2:Protection filter. Absolutely crystal clear glass with no color
(other then the coating) to protect the lens from damage from blowing
sand and dust and smoke, fingerprints, etc. While a hood may protect
from oblique directions a filter protects from damage from things
coming directly towards the lens.

I'll remember that, the next time someone is shooting at me. That is, shooting with something that could be stopped by a filter, like a rubber band gun...

Seriously, I use protection filters occasionally, but the number of times I'm in situations that demand them is far outnumbered by the situations where I want the better image quality that results from not using them.

3: Skylight filters: Adds a pleasing warmth to shots when desired.

This is the one "avoid at all costs" filter. Most DSLRs are already too "red sensitive" and an additional warming filter makes it much too easy to blow the red channel. The skylight is dead, and Moose's polarizer needs to be buried alongside it.

Shoot it "neutral" and add a "pleasing warmth" in post.

4: Polarizing filters. Normally circular for DSLR type cameras.

5: ND filters to reduce the overall amount of light in a scene (a
polarizing filter can be used if it blocks the desired amount of

6: Graduated ND filters. To selectively reduce the amount of light to
bring the scene into an acceptable contrast range.

7: IR filters. To photograph scenes or objects under IR radiation.

8: UV filters. To photograph scenes or objects under UV radiation.

I covered your points 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 in considerable detail already.

Both of the above types are opaque to the human eye and the camera
must be used on a tripod.

Unless, of course, the camera is IR converted camera, or a camera with the normal IR blocking filter removed.

9: Digital filter. Camera sensors are effected by both UV and IR
radiation. The Digital filter blocks both types of radiation and
passes only visible light. This results in cleaner blacks, whites,
reds, blues, browns, etc. Its' use results in greater separation
between colors (easily seen on a histogram). This filter also totally
eliminates the "M8 bug". It can not be used with lenses shorter then

Unless you post process out the resulting blue or cyan corners. Leica offers this ability in camera.

I was once placed in physical jeopardy by the "digital filter". It reflects bright red off axis, and that can be very attention getting.

It works thanks to its' dichroic coatings and is not made from
a special type of glass.

All DSLRs currently in production have internal dichroic filters. The M8 is the only high end production camera to not have such.

10: Close-up lenses. To shorten the focal length when your lens will
not let you focus close enough. Better methods with a DSLR are by
using extension tubes or bellows but those will require an exposure


Other useful lens gadgets are:
Step-up rings to allow one size of lens accessory to fit all lenses.

I mentioned those elsewhere. For the most part, they're the enemy of filter use.

Lens caps


White balance caps

Mostly useless gimmick.

Special effects filters (double exposure, fog, soft focus, etc. (many
of these effects can be done in post processing but it is faster to
do it at the time of shooting).
An effective lens hood. A lens hood that does not vignette at a lens'
widest focal length is not providing any protection at the longest.
Conversely a lens hood that works effectively for a long focal length
will vignette with a wide focal length.

And I also went on at length about hoods.

Are you pasting from an existing document?

-- hide signature --

Rahon Klavanian 1912-2008.

Armenian genocide survivor, amazing cook, scrabble master, and loving grandmother. You will be missed.

Ciao! Joseph

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