Camera Filter Buying Guide

Although they are simple additions to a camera lens, filters can make dramatic changes to your photos. These photography tools can also help protect your lens from damage while filtering images. This useful shopping guide will help you choose the filter that’s right for your camera.

Types of Camera Filters

There are several different camera filters on the market today, each giving your photos a unique look. These filters include:

UV Camera Filters

While most camera lenses have UV coatings, adding an additional UV filter can help protect your lens from damage. These clear filters are perfect for photographers who primarily shoot outside, since they protect the lens against dirt, scratches, water, and tree branches. They can also help prevent photos from looking hazy.

Many UV filters are inexpensive, making them an affordable way to protect your camera lens. Even the most affordable UV filters tend to be well made, so there’s little worry of loss of photo quality when using a UV filter. For photographers who desire a simple way to protect their camera lens from damage, a UV filter can be an excellent option.

Polarizing Camera Filters

Designed to enhance photos by adjusting the color contrast, polarizing camera filters are a great addition to your camera filter collection. Many photographers consider a polarizing filter to be an essential part of their camera kits, as their effects simply cannot be replicated using photo enhancing software.

When using a polarizing filter, you simply turn the filter to adjust the polarization. You’ll be able to create natural-looking photos and artistic shots with high color contrast.

These filters are excellent for those who shoot outdoors, making blue skies brighter and grasses greener. They work well on bright, sunny days and excel at creating beautiful water photography, as they remove specular highlights. They’re not as effective when shooting during cloudy weather.

Photographers who work in outdoor settings will enjoy using a polarizing filter. Like UV filters, polarizing filters tend to be inexpensive and often come with convenient carrying cases and lens-cleaning tools.

Graduated Neutral Density Camera Filters

Graduated neutral density camera filters help balance the contrast in images, allowing you to meter your photos more effectively. These filters are clear on one half, and darker on the other half. For example, you can align the darker half on a bright sky to help balance the photo’s contrast.

These camera filters are usually rectangular, so you will need a filter holding system to use them. Graduated neutral density filters are available in different stops (darkness), and their graduated surface ensures that the filter isn’t visible in your shot.

Photographers who shoot landscapes often, or other images with a dark foreground and bright sky, will find the graduated neutral density camera filter to be a welcome addition to their camera kits. These filters vary greatly in price, and tend to be more expensive than UV and polarizing filters.

Neutral Density Filters

Neutral density filters are similar to graduated neutral density filters. However, instead of only being dark on one half, these filters are consistently dark across the surface. These filters darken images and are especially helpful when shooting in sunny settings.

These filters allow you to darken images enough to slow down your shutter speed. They are ideal for capturing motion, such as running children or a rushing stream. Neutral density filters can also help make your photographs appear sharper.

Photographers who shoot action shots will find neutral density filters to be a useful part of their photography kits. These filters tend to be affordable and are available from many top brands.

Pay Attention to

Choosing among the hundreds of camera filters available can be a difficult task. Here are some helpful tips to assist you with your search.

Brand

Many manufacturers create filters that will only fit cameras of particular brands. Be sure that your camera is compatible with the filter before making a purchase.

Camera protection

Those looking for a simple way to protect an expensive camera lens will find that a UV filter suits their needs. In fact, many photographers leave their UV filters on their lenses at all times.

Filter sets

Many camera filters are sold as part of a set, which may include a travel bag and cleaning cloth. If you find that all the filters in the set will be useful for you, filter sets can be an excellent value.

Price

Camera filters tend to be inexpensive, making them a great way to protect an expensive camera lens. You’ll find all types of high-quality filters in affordable price ranges. Graduated neutral density filters tend to be the most expensive type.

Size

When purchasing a camera filter, be sure that it will fit onto your camera lens. Most lenses will have the size marked near the front of the lens. You’ll also need a filter holding system to place a square filter onto a round lens.

Shooting location

Where you usually take photographs can help determine which filter is right for you. Those who take action photos will enjoy using a neutral density filter, while landscape photographers may prefer a graduated neutral density filter.

Top Brands and Product Lines

High-quality camera filters are available from many top brands, which include:

Altura Photo

Perfect for the cost-conscious consumer, Altura Photo’s affordable filter kits include polarizing and neutral density filters in one convenient package.

AmazonBasics

One of the most affordable brands, AmazonBasics offers low-priced camera filters that provide UV protection and polarizing effects.

Polaroid

A classic brand in photography, Polaroid offers mid-priced UV filters that are often included in value filter sets.

Tiffen

With the company’s easy-to-use UV, polarizing, and neutral density filters, Tiffen’s products are perfect for those wishing to take high-quality outdoor photos.

Vivitar

From single UV camera filters to large kits with several options, Vivitar offers a wide range of filters and accessories.