Lens Filters?

Started May 10, 2013 | Discussions
POS Photo Junior Member • Posts: 28
Lens Filters?

Just recently bought my first mirrorless camera, a Sony NEX-3N. This is my first camera above a point and shoot.

I've been trying to read up on lens filter possibilities, but I'm still have some questions.

- Cheap vs Expensive. What are the qualities of a filter that are most important to keep the image the best it can be?

- How do I know if a filter will work with my camera/lens? It seems a 49mm filter is still made in a number of ways to take advantage of the type of lens it is on.

- Suggestions on brands? I hear B+W is a top choice, but are there some good value brands for a cheaper price?

- What assortment of filters would be good for a beginner to have at their disposal?

I have the 16-50mm lens and 55-210mm lens for the NEX-3N.

I would like to get some rather cheap lenses that don't completely ruin my picture quality. Under $30 would be nice. I'm thinking many of you might say that its a waste at that price, but please let me know why.

I've heard number of coatings and glass quality are things to look at, but I don't really know what is good or any other qualities to look for.

Here's one lens I'm looking at ...

http://www.amazon.com/Tiffen-49CP-49mm-Circular-Polarizer/dp/B00004ZC9L

...But like I said, I don't know if this works with mirrorless cameras or what.

Here's a really cheap 3 filter pack...

http://www.amazon.com/Zeikos-ZE-FLK49-Multi-Coated-Filter-UV-CPL-FLD/dp/B001KNDWRY/ref=pd_cp_p_2

...What makes these so cheap? Would these be terrible to use or would I still enjoy them as I am just a beginner?

Any input would be much appreciated!

photosen Veteran Member • Posts: 5,951
Re: Lens Filters?

UV: don't bother, honestly; get lens hoods if you're worried about protection.

Polarizer: get the best you can afford, I got a B+W Kaeseman and thought the price was outrageous, particularly since the large sizes cost even more and I needed a 77mm; but the results can be amazing. Check if the front element on your lenses rotates as it autofocuses, as the effect polarizers provide depends on their position in relation to the sun, and hence how you rotate them on the lens; if your lens rotates as it autofocuses that might be a bit of a hassle.

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John Deerfield Veteran Member • Posts: 3,158
Re: Lens Filters?

POS Photo wrote:

Just recently bought my first mirrorless camera, a Sony NEX-3N. This is my first camera above a point and shoot.

I've been trying to read up on lens filter possibilities, but I'm still have some questions.

Read this: http://www.bythom.com/filters.htm It should answer most of your questions.

- Cheap vs Expensive. What are the qualities of a filter that are most important to keep the image the best it can be?

Light transmission and light reflectance (flare) will be the two big issue. Have you ever gone to have a print framed? They usually give you three glass choices: cheap, reflects a lot of light (glare); better, less glare; and best, least glare UV protection etc.

- How do I know if a filter will work with my camera/lens? It seems a 49mm filter is still made in a number of ways to take advantage of the type of lens it is on.

According to specs, you need a filter with a 49.5mm thread. If it has that, you should be good. If it doesn't, you will need a lot of tape.

- Suggestions on brands? I hear B+W is a top choice, but are there some good value brands for a cheaper price?

You get what you pay for. We can't know what image quality sacrifices you are willing to accept. We can't even know what the different potential image degradation might be for any given filter. A filter can be a lot like a winning race horse. Often the purse for the 1st place horse is over twice as big and the 2nd place horse. Was the first place horse twice as fast? No. But it was fast enough for first place. And a lot of people were happier with second place than dead last. We don't know your horse, your track, or your tolerance!

- What assortment of filters would be good for a beginner to have at their disposal?

What are you taking pictures of?

I have the 16-50mm lens and 55-210mm lens for the NEX-3N.

I would like to get some rather cheap lenses that don't completely ruin my picture quality. Under $30 would be nice. I'm thinking many of you might say that its a waste at that price, but please let me know why.

You are correct, cheap and quality never go hand in hand. Not my rule. It looks like a Hoya CPL can be had for $40 so you aren't too far off (of course the B+W is a lot more!).

I've heard number of coatings and glass quality are things to look at, but I don't really know what is good or any other qualities to look for.

Read the article. Trust your gut.

Here's one lens I'm looking at ...

http://www.amazon.com/Tiffen-49CP-49mm-Circular-Polarizer/dp/B00004ZC9L

...But like I said, I don't know if this works with   cameras or what.

It should fit. As to everything else, it's your horse race.

Here's a really cheap 3 filter pack...

http://www.amazon.com/Zeikos-ZE-FLK49-Multi-Coated-Filter-UV-CPL-FLD/dp/B001KNDWRY/ref=pd_cp_p_2

...What makes these so cheap?

The price.

Would these be terrible to use or would I still enjoy them as I am just a beginner?

You might be able to enjoy them as small coasters? But you don't even need a UV.

Any input would be much appreciated!

Read the article, post back with any more questions.

Daisy AU
Daisy AU Senior Member • Posts: 1,564
Re: Lens Filters?

I use Hoya Pro 1, which in my opinion are very good but not as expensive as B&W.  If you look after your filters, it is a one-time purchase and you should get a good quality one from the start.  But, I do not know what's available for the size you need.  I buy mostly 77mm and use step-down rings, hence I only buy one of each type I need/want.

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Leswick Veteran Member • Posts: 3,102
Re: Lens Filters?

Installing more glass before your lens does not help your image.  But, there are also economics involved.  You are the one who'll have to live with the IQ.  Usually I choose B+W or Heliopan.

Leswick

Daisy AU
Daisy AU Senior Member • Posts: 1,564
Re: Lens Filters?
1

Leswick wrote:

Installing more glass before your lens does not help your image.  But, there are also economics involved.  You are the one who'll have to live with the IQ.  Usually I choose B+W or Heliopan.

Leswick

Good for you, however my pocket, "as a hobbyist", does not allow me that cost. The OP was talking about filters "as cheap as", hence I suggested something a bit better like Hoya Pro 1.  You are happy and I am happy!

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OP POS Photo Junior Member • Posts: 28
Re: Lens Filters?

The OP was talking about filters "as cheap as", hence I suggested something a bit better like Hoya Pro 1.  You are happy and I am happy!

Thanks, I'll take a look at the Hoya.

Regarding the step down rings, how do those effect picture quality?  The two lenses I have are 49mm and 40.5mm so that is something else I'm looking at.

Daisy AU
Daisy AU Senior Member • Posts: 1,564
Re: Lens Filters?

POS Photo wrote:

The OP was talking about filters "as cheap as", hence I suggested something a bit better like Hoya Pro 1.  You are happy and I am happy!

Thanks, I'll take a look at the Hoya.

Regarding the step down rings, how do those effect picture quality?  The two lenses I have are 49mm and 40.5mm so that is something else I'm looking at.

They should not affect the quality more than just having he filter directly screwed to the lens.  B&H Photo in the US (they ship internationally) have that size, although they seem expensive.  There are other brands, but I don't know if they make the sizes you need.  Look at:

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/search?Ntt=Step+down+ring+49-40.5&N=0&InitialSearch=yes&sts=ma&Top+Nav-Search=

You can also search Adorama's website, who also ship internationally.

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Thanks,
Daisy AU - Brisbane
http://www.flickr.com/photos/ney_images/

 Daisy AU's gear list:Daisy AU's gear list
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bobgeorge Contributing Member • Posts: 639
Re: Lens Filters?

John Deerfield wrote:

POS Photo wrote:

Just recently bought my first mirrorless camera, a Sony NEX-3N. This is my first camera above a point and shoot.

I've been trying to read up on lens filter possibilities, but I'm still have some questions.

Read this: http://www.bythom.com/filters.htm It should answer most of your questions.

- Cheap vs Expensive. What are the qualities of a filter that are most important to keep the image the best it can be?

Light transmission and light reflectance (flare) will be the two big issue. Have you ever gone to have a print framed? They usually give you three glass choices: cheap, reflects a lot of light (glare); better, less glare; and best, least glare UV protection etc.

- How do I know if a filter will work with my camera/lens? It seems a 49mm filter is still made in a number of ways to take advantage of the type of lens it is on.

According to specs, you need a filter with a 49.5mm thread. If it has that, you should be good. If it doesn't, you will need a lot of tape.

- Suggestions on brands? I hear B+W is a top choice, but are there some good value brands for a cheaper price?

You get what you pay for. We can't know what image quality sacrifices you are willing to accept. We can't even know what the different potential image degradation might be for any given filter. A filter can be a lot like a winning race horse. Often the purse for the 1st place horse is over twice as big and the 2nd place horse. Was the first place horse twice as fast? No. But it was fast enough for first place. And a lot of people were happier with second place than dead last. We don't know your horse, your track, or your tolerance!

- What assortment of filters would be good for a beginner to have at their disposal?

What are you taking pictures of?

I have the 16-50mm lens and 55-210mm lens for the NEX-3N.

I would like to get some rather cheap lenses that don't completely ruin my picture quality. Under $30 would be nice. I'm thinking many of you might say that its a waste at that price, but please let me know why.

You are correct, cheap and quality never go hand in hand. Not my rule. It looks like a Hoya CPL can be had for $40 so you aren't too far off (of course the B+W is a lot more!).

I've heard number of coatings and glass quality are things to look at, but I don't really know what is good or any other qualities to look for.

Read the article. Trust your gut.

Here's one lens I'm looking at ...

http://www.amazon.com/Tiffen-49CP-49mm-Circular-Polarizer/dp/B00004ZC9L

...But like I said, I don't know if this works with   cameras or what.

It should fit. As to everything else, it's your horse race.

Here's a really cheap 3 filter pack...

http://www.amazon.com/Zeikos-ZE-FLK49-Multi-Coated-Filter-UV-CPL-FLD/dp/B001KNDWRY/ref=pd_cp_p_2

...What makes these so cheap?

The price.

Would these be terrible to use or would I still enjoy them as I am just a beginner?

You might be able to enjoy them as small coasters? But you don't even need a UV.

Any input would be much appreciated!

Read the article, post back with any more questions.

What type of filter would be good at taking night time photos of buildings/monuments that are lit up?  Thanks!

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BobGeorge
--------------
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Chris R-UK Forum Pro • Posts: 18,410
Re: Lens Filters?

bobgeorge wrote:

What type of filter would be good at taking night time photos of buildings/monuments that are lit up?  Thanks!

None.

There may be special cases where a polarizer can reduce reflections or a graduated ND can darken one area of an image, but there is no filter that I know of that has a general effect of improving a night time image.

You may want to read up on HDR instead.

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Chris R

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Chris R-UK Forum Pro • Posts: 18,410
Don't buy any filters until you need one

Apart from lens protection in extreme conditions, filters are solutions to very specific problems.

Don't buy any filters until you have identified a need.  Buying them because you have heard that good photographers use them is a sure way to waste money.

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Chris R

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John Deerfield Veteran Member • Posts: 3,158
Re: Lens Filters?

I agree in spirit with Chris's, but for me, I always fall back on the best advice I was ever given. And that was to ask myself two questions when creating the image:

1- what am I taking a picture of

2- how do I want it to look?

With that in mind, is there a filter that can help me get the shot I want? As example, a star filter could add an accent to light sources. Or there is the FL-W filter:

http://www.krisnelsonphoto.com/2011/10/night-skyline-flw-filter/

Cailean Gallimore Veteran Member • Posts: 6,083
Re: Lens Filters?

Don't buy or use any filters unless you need them for the effect they create, beyond that they are a waste of money and might have a negative effect on your images.

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