Filters - Advice Please

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by colly, Oct 14, 2007.

  1. colly

    colly Guest

    I've just bought a Canon 400D with a Sigma 17-70mm lens and a Canon
    50mm lens. I have read a little about how useful lens filters can be,
    and would appreciate some advice.

    What are the essential filers? Polariser, UV, Fluorescent? I saw a
    gallery of beautiful landscape shots the other day and the
    photographer used an "ND Grad" filter on all his shots. I think there
    are many different types.

    What filters are essential, and which ones are a nice extra?

    I've found some on ebay that are very cheap, are cheap filters a false
    economy?

    Advice appreciated.
    Thanks
    colly, Oct 14, 2007
    #1
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  2. colly

    HTangler Guest

    On Sun, 14 Oct 2007 10:37:46 -0000, colly <> wrote:

    >I've found some on ebay that are very cheap, are cheap filters a false
    >economy?


    Some expensive filters are also "false economy". I've tested some of the most
    expensive polarizers for uniformity of the polarizing substrate as well as
    polarizing strength from various companies. Some of the most expensive ones over
    $80 and up were worse than $12 generic specials of the same diameter. Failing in
    uniformity, strength, or both. Typically both. They must feel they can get away
    with that because few people know of a simple way to test them.

    Use a known good polarizer and cross it at 90-degrees to the unknown. The
    unknown will usually show defects clearly in the form of banding, spots and
    gashes of lesser strength, and brighter lights showing through easily overall.
    It should appear nearly black (slight tinge of blue or purple) and uniform when
    crossed with another good one. I use a lab-grade polarizer for this simple test.
    Two of those crossed at 90 degrees to each other extinguishes nearly all visible
    light and show zero defects.

    About the only time where I have found that cost really matters is when buying
    close-up filter sets (typically sold in +1, +2, and +4 diopter sets). They need
    to be multi-coated or else that many glass/air surfaces when used in a
    stacked-fashion rob too much light and contrast from your image. Multi-coated
    close-up filters cost a bit more and are well worth the expense. (Not speaking
    of special achromat close-up lens add-ons, usually at +8 diopters strength and
    up in a single configuration.) Otherwise all other filters are a crap-shot on if
    they are worth the extra money or not. The adage of "you get what you pay for"
    has never held less truth than when buying filters.
    HTangler, Oct 14, 2007
    #2
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  3. colly

    John Bean Guest

    On Sun, 14 Oct 2007 10:37:46 -0000, colly
    <> wrote:

    >What filters are essential, and which ones are a nice extra?


    No filter is essential. A polariser is sometimes useful.

    >I've found some on ebay that are very cheap, are cheap filters a false
    >economy?


    Yes. Buy only those you *need* and buy the best you can
    afford.

    --
    John Bean
    John Bean, Oct 14, 2007
    #3
  4. No filter is essential. I would not start off by buying filters. I
    suggest you buy filters WHEN you have a need or desire for one.

    Digital cameras make filters even less important due to their ability to
    white balance and post exposure processing.

    I don't get excited with the results of gradient ND filters. I do have
    an occasional use polarizing filters. There are some conditions where there
    is no other way of correcting a problem, usually reflections where I don't
    want them.

    Another Joseph Meehan has written a book on filters. It applies equally
    well to digital cameras and is a good read. You might want to look for it.

    "colly" <> wrote in message
    news:...
    > I've just bought a Canon 400D with a Sigma 17-70mm lens and a Canon
    > 50mm lens. I have read a little about how useful lens filters can be,
    > and would appreciate some advice.
    >
    > What are the essential filers? Polariser, UV, Fluorescent? I saw a
    > gallery of beautiful landscape shots the other day and the
    > photographer used an "ND Grad" filter on all his shots. I think there
    > are many different types.
    >
    > What filters are essential, and which ones are a nice extra?
    >
    > I've found some on ebay that are very cheap, are cheap filters a false
    > economy?
    >
    > Advice appreciated.
    > Thanks
    >



    --
    Joseph Meehan

    Dia 's Muire duit
    Joseph Meehan, Oct 14, 2007
    #4
  5. colly

    kamerakid Guest

    a uv filter can be useful to have on the lens all the time - not
    photographically but more to protect the front element of the lenses -so
    that when your camera falls against a wall the filter gets damaged but not
    the expensive lens. I know - it has worked for me when out in the
    countryside one day trying to clamber over a drystone wall ;-((


    "colly" <> wrote in message
    news:...
    > I've just bought a Canon 400D with a Sigma 17-70mm lens and a Canon
    > 50mm lens. I have read a little about how useful lens filters can be,
    > and would appreciate some advice.
    >
    > What are the essential filers? Polariser, UV, Fluorescent? I saw a
    > gallery of beautiful landscape shots the other day and the
    > photographer used an "ND Grad" filter on all his shots. I think there
    > are many different types.
    >
    > What filters are essential, and which ones are a nice extra?
    >
    > I've found some on ebay that are very cheap, are cheap filters a false
    > economy?
    >
    > Advice appreciated.
    > Thanks
    >
    kamerakid, Oct 14, 2007
    #5
  6. colly

    Kinon O'Cann Guest

    "colly" <> wrote in message
    news:...
    > I've just bought a Canon 400D with a Sigma 17-70mm lens and a Canon
    > 50mm lens. I have read a little about how useful lens filters can be,
    > and would appreciate some advice.
    >
    > What are the essential filers? Polariser, UV, Fluorescent? I saw a
    > gallery of beautiful landscape shots the other day and the
    > photographer used an "ND Grad" filter on all his shots. I think there
    > are many different types.


    You can simulate the effects of an ND grad filter using digital tools, so
    those are nice, but not essential. The most essential filter is the
    polarizer, which cannot be simulated digitally in any way. Get a good brand,
    as well. I've tried cheaper brands, and they usually fall apart in about a
    year. My B&W filters last years.

    >
    > What filters are essential, and which ones are a nice extra?
    >
    > I've found some on ebay that are very cheap, are cheap filters a false
    > economy?
    >
    > Advice appreciated.
    > Thanks
    >
    Kinon O'Cann, Oct 14, 2007
    #6
  7. colly

    Kinon O'Cann Guest

    "colly" <> wrote in message
    news:...
    > I've just bought a Canon 400D with a Sigma 17-70mm lens and a Canon
    > 50mm lens. I have read a little about how useful lens filters can be,
    > and would appreciate some advice.
    >
    > What are the essential filers? Polariser, UV, Fluorescent? I saw a
    > gallery of beautiful landscape shots the other day and the
    > photographer used an "ND Grad" filter on all his shots. I think there
    > are many different types.


    Almost forgot; a good multicoated UV filter to keep on the lens at all
    times, except when using the polarizer.

    >
    > What filters are essential, and which ones are a nice extra?
    >
    > I've found some on ebay that are very cheap, are cheap filters a false
    > economy?
    >
    > Advice appreciated.
    > Thanks
    >
    Kinon O'Cann, Oct 14, 2007
    #7
  8. colly

    Ed Mullikin Guest

    "Kinon O'Cann" <> wrote in message
    news:fmpQi.1506$pl2.1128@trndny09...
    >
    > "colly" <> wrote in message
    > news:...
    >> I've just bought a Canon 400D with a Sigma 17-70mm lens and a Canon
    >> 50mm lens. I have read a little about how useful lens filters can be,
    >> and would appreciate some advice.
    >>
    >> What are the essential filers? Polariser, UV, Fluorescent? I saw a
    >> gallery of beautiful landscape shots the other day and the
    >> photographer used an "ND Grad" filter on all his shots. I think there
    >> are many different types.

    >
    > Almost forgot; a good multicoated UV filter to keep on the lens at all
    > times, except when using the polarizer.
    >
    >>
    >> What filters are essential, and which ones are a nice extra?
    >>
    >> I've found some on ebay that are very cheap, are cheap filters a false
    >> economy?
    >>
    >> Advice appreciated.
    >> Thanks
    >>

    >

    Regarding a UV filter; I have nearly always used one but I've heard the
    arguement, "Why pay a lot of money for a Zeiss (for instance) lens and then
    crap it up with a dime store UV filter?" Any comments?
    Ed Mullikin, Oct 14, 2007
    #8
  9. colly

    Bob S Guest

    colly wrote:
    > I've just bought a Canon 400D with a Sigma 17-70mm lens and a Canon
    > 50mm lens. I have read a little about how useful lens filters can be,
    > and would appreciate some advice.
    >
    > What are the essential filers? Polariser, UV, Fluorescent? I saw a
    > gallery of beautiful landscape shots the other day and the
    > photographer used an "ND Grad" filter on all his shots. I think there
    > are many different types.
    >
    > What filters are essential, and which ones are a nice extra?
    >
    > I've found some on ebay that are very cheap, are cheap filters a false
    > economy?
    >
    > Advice appreciated.
    > Thanks
    >


    Here are my $0.02

    None are really essential but here are my choices......

    A UV filter. A Circular Polarizer. An 81, 81B. or 81C Warming filter.

    UV reduces haze in the air that the human eye can't always see and
    protects the front of the lens.

    Polarizers reduce reflection and help bring out detail and color on many
    subjects.

    Warming filters do just that, warm the image getting rid of blue tones.
    You don't want to go too warm for most shots so an 81A or 81B at
    the most are most useful.

    My Dad always said there is a difference between cheap and inexpensive.
    Cheap, to him and me, means inferior quality while inexpensive means
    equal quality at a lower cost.

    Stick with filters by Tiffen, Hoya, and if you can afford B+W or
    Heliopan to name a few good filter brands. The last two are expensive......

    One last point, since you have a lens that starts at 17mm I would
    suggest getting "wide angel" filters which are thinner than standard
    filters. With the thin filters you avoid vignetting.

    Bob S
    Bob S, Oct 14, 2007
    #9
  10. colly

    nospam Guest

    In article <0YrQi.340519$>, Ed Mullikin
    <> wrote:

    > Regarding a UV filter; I have nearly always used one but I've heard the
    > arguement, "Why pay a lot of money for a Zeiss (for instance) lens and then
    > crap it up with a dime store UV filter?" Any comments?


    don't put a cheapo filter on an expensive lens. get a hoya or b+w
    multicoated filter, not a no-name uncoated questionable quality filter.
    nospam, Oct 14, 2007
    #10
  11. colly

    HTangler Guest

    On Sun, 14 Oct 2007 13:06:35 -0400, Bob S <> wrote:

    >colly wrote:
    >> I've just bought a Canon 400D with a Sigma 17-70mm lens and a Canon
    >> 50mm lens. I have read a little about how useful lens filters can be,
    >> and would appreciate some advice.
    >>
    >> What are the essential filers? Polariser, UV, Fluorescent? I saw a
    >> gallery of beautiful landscape shots the other day and the
    >> photographer used an "ND Grad" filter on all his shots. I think there
    >> are many different types.
    >>
    >> What filters are essential, and which ones are a nice extra?
    >>
    >> I've found some on ebay that are very cheap, are cheap filters a false
    >> economy?
    >>
    >> Advice appreciated.
    >> Thanks
    >>

    >
    >Here are my $0.02
    >
    >None are really essential but here are my choices......
    >
    >A UV filter. A Circular Polarizer. An 81, 81B. or 81C Warming filter.
    >
    >UV reduces haze in the air that the human eye can't always see and
    >protects the front of the lens.
    >
    >Polarizers reduce reflection and help bring out detail and color on many
    >subjects.
    >
    >Warming filters do just that, warm the image getting rid of blue tones.
    > You don't want to go too warm for most shots so an 81A or 81B at
    >the most are most useful.
    >
    >My Dad always said there is a difference between cheap and inexpensive.
    > Cheap, to him and me, means inferior quality while inexpensive means
    >equal quality at a lower cost.
    >
    >Stick with filters by Tiffen, Hoya, and if you can afford B+W or
    >Heliopan to name a few good filter brands. The last two are expensive......
    >
    >One last point, since you have a lens that starts at 17mm I would
    >suggest getting "wide angel" filters which are thinner than standard
    >filters. With the thin filters you avoid vignetting.
    >
    >Bob S


    Interesting that you should mention Tiffen, as their $80+ polarizer filters are
    the ones that were worse than $12 generics when I tested various brands.

    You get what you pay for! Right? Think again.
    HTangler, Oct 14, 2007
    #11
  12. colly

    John Bean Guest

    On Sun, 14 Oct 2007 13:06:35 -0400, Bob S
    <> wrote:
    >UV reduces haze in the air that the human eye can't always see [...]


    Nor can ordinary digital cameras for all practical purposes.

    >Polarizers reduce reflection and help bring out detail and color on many
    >subjects.


    Yes.

    >Warming filters do just that, warm the image getting rid of blue tones.


    As can setting a correct WB, making a warming filter totally
    redundant.

    Your choices seem more film-centric than I expect in aq
    digital group ;-)



    --
    John Bean
    John Bean, Oct 14, 2007
    #12
  13. "Ed Mullikin" <> wrote in message
    news:0YrQi.340519$...
    > ... Regarding a UV filter; I have nearly always used one but I've heard
    > the arguement, "Why pay a lot of money for a Zeiss (for instance) lens and
    > then crap it up with a dime store UV filter?" Any comments?


    I would agree that worrying greatly about the quality of a lens and then
    adding a filter, just to protect it is a questionable decision.

    Any filter will cause some degradation of the image. Most filters will
    cause very little and most often will not be noticed. However under certain
    conditions you may have some very noticeable and undesirable results.

    Frankly I very strongly believe the worry about possible damage to a
    lens that would be prevented by a filter is greatly overstated.

    Everyone has heard the stories over and over. Many people have
    experienced lens damage or know someone who knows someone ...

    A truth is that much of this was (and I would guess is) the result of
    camera sales staff who work on commission and receive even more commission
    for the add on's like bags, filters etc. Many years ago when I was in the
    business we generally made more money from the 20% extra cost for the add
    on's than we made on the camera and lens. As a result every salesman had a
    collection of scare stories to assure sales of things like bags and filters.
    I was lucky to work in a store where we did not do commission and did not
    use those stories. I also worked as a professional photographer many years
    ago. Yea, lenses did get scratched or chipped, but a little black India ink
    on the damage and the lens produced the same quality images as it did
    before. No visible difference.

    End result, If you are the type of guy who wears both suspenders and a
    belt, buy those filters and know you are not hurting anything. Otherwise
    save your money and know that while you may some day chip or scratch a lens,
    it will not be something to cry about.


    --
    Joseph Meehan

    Dia 's Muire duit
    Joseph Meehan, Oct 14, 2007
    #13
  14. colly

    Kinon O'Cann Guest

    "Ed Mullikin" <> wrote in message
    news:0YrQi.340519$...
    >
    > "Kinon O'Cann" <> wrote in message
    > news:fmpQi.1506$pl2.1128@trndny09...
    >>
    >> "colly" <> wrote in message
    >> news:...
    >>> I've just bought a Canon 400D with a Sigma 17-70mm lens and a Canon
    >>> 50mm lens. I have read a little about how useful lens filters can be,
    >>> and would appreciate some advice.
    >>>
    >>> What are the essential filers? Polariser, UV, Fluorescent? I saw a
    >>> gallery of beautiful landscape shots the other day and the
    >>> photographer used an "ND Grad" filter on all his shots. I think there
    >>> are many different types.

    >>
    >> Almost forgot; a good multicoated UV filter to keep on the lens at all
    >> times, except when using the polarizer.
    >>
    >>>
    >>> What filters are essential, and which ones are a nice extra?
    >>>
    >>> I've found some on ebay that are very cheap, are cheap filters a false
    >>> economy?
    >>>
    >>> Advice appreciated.
    >>> Thanks
    >>>

    >>

    > Regarding a UV filter; I have nearly always used one but I've heard the
    > arguement, "Why pay a lot of money for a Zeiss (for instance) lens and
    > then crap it up with a dime store UV filter?" Any comments?


    Yes, buy a multicoated B&W for that Zeiss lens. I've done the tests, and
    there's no difference in sharpness. Just a little cleaner image (less haze).

    >
    >
    Kinon O'Cann, Oct 14, 2007
    #14
  15. colly

    Kinon O'Cann Guest

    "Joseph Meehan" <> wrote in message
    news:471282ff$0$7476$...
    >
    > I would agree that worrying greatly about the quality of a lens and
    > then adding a filter, just to protect it is a questionable decision.
    >


    I guess it depends on your shooting conditions. Since I bought my 24-105,
    I've had to replace the Uv filter twice due to dings and scratches. Better
    that than my lens, I guess. Yes, another story...
    Kinon O'Cann, Oct 14, 2007
    #15
  16. colly

    EAL Guest

    On Sun, 14 Oct 2007 12:39:39 +0100, "kamerakid"
    <> wrote:

    >a uv filter can be useful to have on the lens all the time - not
    >photographically but more to protect the front element of the lenses -so
    >that when your camera falls against a wall the filter gets damaged but not
    >the expensive lens. I know - it has worked for me when out in the
    >countryside one day trying to clamber over a drystone wall ;-((


    Use a good lens hood to protect the lens, not a UV filter. A lens hood
    not only protects the lens, butalso keeps out stray light, improving
    contrast. Filters cost money, collect dust, can cause vignetting, and
    give ghost images in high contrast scenes.

    If you are going to use a filter to protect the lens, make sure you
    put one on the back of the lens too, in case it falls on the back.

    Ed
    EAL, Oct 14, 2007
    #16
  17. colly

    Bob S Guest

    HTangler wrote:
    > On Sun, 14 Oct 2007 13:06:35 -0400, Bob S <> wrote:
    >


    > Interesting that you should mention Tiffen, as their $80+ polarizer filters are
    > the ones that were worse than $12 generics when I tested various brands.
    >
    > You get what you pay for! Right? Think again.
    >


    True, not always....

    How did you or how do you test a polarizer?
    Bob S
    Bob S, Oct 14, 2007
    #17
  18. "Kinon O'Cann" <> wrote in message
    news:6GvQi.2167$et1.478@trnddc02...
    >

    ...
    >
    > I guess it depends on your shooting conditions. Since I bought my 24-105,
    > I've had to replace the Uv filter twice due to dings and scratches. Better
    > that than my lens, I guess. Yes, another story...


    I have had several personal lenses with dings and scratches. I have
    never bothered to replace a lens for that reason.

    I have not had any for a long time, but today I would use a very fine
    tip black felt tip marker to black out the flaw. Then do some test to see
    if under critical conditions you can see the difference. In fact I would
    recommend doing the same with and without a filter to see if you can see any
    reduced image quality either way. I doubt if you will. It is sort of
    amazing how much damage a lens can have and not show any effect of it on the
    finished product.

    I don't bother with the filters, mostly because of the bother and to a
    lesser extend due to the real, but small increase chance of flare.

    It might be fun to black out the damage to one of those damaged filters
    if you still have one and do a test comparing the results from a "repaired"
    filter and no filter and a new un-blemished filter.


    --
    Joseph Meehan

    Dia 's Muire duit
    Joseph Meehan, Oct 15, 2007
    #18
  19. colly

    JD Guest

    colly wrote:
    > I've just bought a Canon 400D with a Sigma 17-70mm lens and a Canon
    > 50mm lens. I have read a little about how useful lens filters can be,
    > and would appreciate some advice.
    >
    > What are the essential filers? Polariser, UV, Fluorescent? I saw a
    > gallery of beautiful landscape shots the other day and the
    > photographer used an "ND Grad" filter on all his shots. I think there
    > are many different types.
    >
    > What filters are essential, and which ones are a nice extra?
    >
    > I've found some on ebay that are very cheap, are cheap filters a false
    > economy?
    >
    > Advice appreciated.
    > Thanks
    >

    Check out the book by Lee Frost ISBN 0715314009.
    You can browse through parts of the book on Amazon.

    There are sections in the book that are film centric (color balancing,
    reciprocity balancing and filters for black and white film) but his
    descriptions of filter systems, poloarizing at wide angles and graduated
    neutral density filters apply to both film and digital.

    JD
    JD, Oct 15, 2007
    #19
  20. colly

    Toby Guest

    Better is a lens hood *and* a front clear filter. The hood protects the
    front of the lens and acts as a shade for extraneous light, but the clear
    filter protects the front element against dust, splashes, etc. I find that
    after several years I need to replace the front filter from those inevitable
    cleaningS out in the field--much better than replacing the front element!

    In terms of the filter degrading the image: I have done some fairly
    extensive tests with and without filter and find that the degradation is
    imperceptible at 100% magnification. This is with a garden variety MC clear
    filter. The smallest bit of focusing error has a much greater effect on the
    final sharpness than that extra piece of glass. There are cases where you
    will get extra ghosting when you have very bright lights shining in the
    lens, but in that case it is easy to take the filter off for a few
    minutes...

    BTW high quality filters are much more important with very long lenses. With
    a 50 and a 17-70 you don't have to worry.

    You don't need any CC filters with digital, as all color correction can be
    done with a decent graphics app. A polarizer is very valuable, as it cuts
    non-specular reflections, making colors richer, as well as doing the famous
    darkening-the-sky bit. Make sure to buy a circular polarizer, so as not to
    screw up the metering and/or focusing of your digital camera.

    ND grads are nice, but you can do a lot of that digitally, especially if you
    are working with RAW files. The screw-in ones are practically useless, as
    you always have the grad transition in the exact middle of the frame. Better
    are the Cokins or whatever that can be moved, but the plastic ones scratch
    absurdly easily. The Tiffen glass grads are the best I've found, but are
    absurdly expensive. Mounting all these movable grads is a pain--unless you
    are Ansel Adams and have all day to do one image you will find them a
    bother.

    Then comes the fact that no matter what, the grad threshold is a straight
    line. You also have to decide on the ND factor and whether you want soft or
    hard grads (with gradual or sharper transitions). Are they useful?
    Absolutely, for some things. Are they a pain? Absolutley, for all things...

    If you shoot a lot of red stuff and fall foilage you can consider a red
    enhancing filter. This works by notching the orange transmission quite
    deeply at one relatively narrow wavelength, so it doesn't screw up the
    overall color balance, and this is not something you can do easily
    digitally. It has some limited usefulness for some things, but is certainly
    not essential.

    You can also consider a soft-focus filter (there are many different styles
    available that all give slightly different effects) if you like that sort of
    thing. The effect is much more complex than just using a gaussian blur in
    PS, although with some work you can do nice soft-focus effects in PS.

    Finally there are all the cross-filters and gimmick filters that can't
    easily be duplicated digitally, but they are all...gimmicky...and you
    probably don't need to even consider them unless you need to do that kind of
    gimmicky stuff for some reason.

    Toby

    "EAL" <> schrieb im Newsbeitrag
    news:...
    > On Sun, 14 Oct 2007 12:39:39 +0100, "kamerakid"
    > <> wrote:
    >
    >>a uv filter can be useful to have on the lens all the time - not
    >>photographically but more to protect the front element of the lenses -so
    >>that when your camera falls against a wall the filter gets damaged but not
    >>the expensive lens. I know - it has worked for me when out in the
    >>countryside one day trying to clamber over a drystone wall ;-((

    >
    > Use a good lens hood to protect the lens, not a UV filter. A lens hood
    > not only protects the lens, butalso keeps out stray light, improving
    > contrast. Filters cost money, collect dust, can cause vignetting, and
    > give ghost images in high contrast scenes.
    >
    > If you are going to use a filter to protect the lens, make sure you
    > put one on the back of the lens too, in case it falls on the back.
    >
    > Ed
    Toby, Oct 15, 2007
    #20
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