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Deciding on a Camera Lens Filter - Which is Right for You?

written by: xanadu324•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 12/21/2010

There are many types of camera filters that can be used to create different effects with your photographs. Not all cameras are capable of using a filter. If your camera can use a filter, it more than likely has a thread around the lens where you’d attach the filter to. I’ve created a list here.

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    Picking Your Filter

    Selecting a filter will take time. Once you’ve selected the type of filter you want, you then have to choose the “grade" of the filter. This is how strong or weak you want the effect to be. Not all camera filters have a grade option, but the ones that do give you a very important decision to make. Unless you already know the type of filter you want, I don’t recommend getting camera filters online. It’s best to go to a camera store with your camera and try out the filter. Yes, some websites do show the effect of filters on your camera, but they don’t tell you that some lenses require you to change the white balance, the shutter speed, or the exposure when a filter is attached.

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    UV/Skylight/Haze Filters

    While our eyes cannot see UV rays, your camera sensor can. Not only does a UV filter protect your camera lens (if you drop the camera, the UV filter will crack rather than your lens) but it will also give your photos a sharper look by reducing the UV haze and color casting. UV filters are clear glass filters. Skylight filters have a pink tone to them, and may give the photos a warmer effect as well. A haze filter combats against the haze caused by dust particles in the air. Haze filters have a yellow tone to them to combat the excessive blue color in the image. UV filters can be used for any type of photography, and some photographers keep them on their cameras all the time.

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    Polarizing Filters

    A polarizing filter has two separate rings. One ring screws onto the lens and the second ring can be rotated. Rotating the ring will reduce or increase the effectiveness of the filter. A polarizing filter is used to reduce glare and reflections and also darkens blue skies. Polarizing filters are of great use when shooting photos at the zoo when many animals are behind glass cages. They also work well when trying to photograph water because it will reduce the glare from the sunlight reflecting off the water. There are two types of polarizing filters: linear and circular. A circular polarizer allows a camera’s metering and auto-focus to still function. A linear polarizer will not work with any camera that has a TTL (through-the-lens) metering and auto-focus. Polarizing filters also work best when your camera is facing an object perpendicular to the sun’s rays.