The primary role of any lens filter is to modify the light coming into the lens to the desired characteristics. Filters help reduce unnecessary reflections, glare, and the amount of light getting to the lens.
They can also be used to enhance colours in your photos, just like the filters in photo editing applications on your computer or smartphone.
Some photographers think that the tools in photoshop and lightroom are good enough to do the job a lens filter does. However, raw photos taken while using a lens filter will often look different from one edited using software; they most of the time look better and more natural. To get the best out of filters, you need to choose good-quality ones that have the right properties to do the job.
In this article, we have compiled a list of the top 6 lens filters that any photographer should consider getting if they want to enhance their photos. Usually, you will not need all six at once. You can only choose those that are vital based on your style and the conditions you’re shooting in.
UV or Skylight Filter
As its name suggests, a UV filter is designed to block UV rays from getting to your lens. It doesn’t create any effect in terms of the colour of the images you take; all it does is block UV rays from getting to the lens. Using this filter will reduce the long-term wear on your lens from UV rays, while also protecting your eyes from harmful light and your lens from bumps and scratches.
The polarising filter is generally one of the first filters photographers acquire, especially outdoor or landscape photographers. Its primary role is to reduce / eliminate the effects caused by reflections and glare bouncing off shiny and wet surfaces. Getting rid of reflections and glare makes your photos vibrant and dynamic, without affecting the overall colour of your image.
A Neutral Density filter’s core function is to block a specific amount of light from reaching your lens without affecting the general sharpness and the colour of the photos. These filters are ideal for long-exposure photography. Blocking certain amounts of light from reaching the lens allows for slow shutter speeds, which also increases the amount of detail in the shot.
ND Filters are a must-have if you want to take good quality portrait shots, especially during daytime. This filter can either be grey or colourless(clear), so you should choose one based on the colour effect you need in your shots.
Graduated ND Filters
It is also similar to the ND filters because its main job is to block some light from getting to the camera. However, a graduated ND filter is usually used to darken half the frame and not the entire frame like ND filters. Many photographers use graduated ND filters when taking photos outside in the daytime in order to darken the sky.
Colour-correcting filters are used to adjust the colour temperature of the light getting to the lens. By changing the red, green, and blue characteristics of the light that enters your lens, they are adjusting the colour. These filters are available in different colours, including yellow, orange, red, green, blue, and many more. Your choice of filter will largely depend on the effect you want to achieve with your photos.
A close-up filter, also known as a macro filter, is a secondary lens that is attached to the primary lens to enable it to focus more closely. They are used when taking close up photos to capture all the necessary details. Using a close-up filter while photographing flowers or insects will allow you to see every detail of the subject.
You can’t go wrong with close-up filters if you love macro photography and don’t have the budget for a separate macro lens.
Looking for more information on lens filters? Check out this gear guide on our selection of the top 5 must-have lens accessories.