I like to think of lens filters as tools to manipulate your photography and/ or exposure. Some filters can get you an exposure that would otherwise be impossible, other filters you can easily reproduce in post processing however.
Lens filters, just like the other accessories can vary greatly in price and quality. Quality optics are expensive, therefore the good filters are also expensive. To save yourself some cash I highly recommend getting the largest filter you need for your given lens lineup. Then you can get “Step-Up” adapter rings so you can use the same High Quality lens filter on smaller lenses. Basically making the investment once. Although a bit more expensive upfront, this will save you money in the long run.
For example: I have a really high quality Circular 77mm Polarizer and a circular Adjustable ND Filter for my Canon professional gear. I simply use a step-up adapter ring in order to attach the larger lens filters to my smaller lenses like the 135mm f/2 L lens which has a 72mm filter thread size. The “Step-Up” adapter rings are cheap and Quality Lens Filters are expensive, therefore it makes sense to me to make the investment once when applicable.
Some lens filters screw on the front of the lens itself with the threads, and they are sized by mm’s when your looking to buy them. You need to look at the front of your lens to determine the size filter it will except via the threads. I put the most common sizes for Sony lenses below, but pretty much all sizes are available.You can also stack filters if the filter has threads on the front of it like the lens.Other lens filters have brackets that mount to the end of the lens, then glass sleeves slide in front of the lens. These are great, because it’s easy to stack them and use combinations of gradient filters with ND filters etc.. They are also a bit harder to keep clean I’ve noticed with my experience. I have the Cokin P-Series Filter kit as well, and it works great for a lot of applications.
Recommended Filters by Common Sizes
|Neutral Density Filters:||40.5mm | 49mm | 62mm | 67mm | 72mm | 77mm | 82mm|
|Variable ND Filter||40.5mm | 49mm | 55mm | 62mm | 67mm | 72mm | 77mm|
|Polarizing Filters:||40.5mm | 49mm | 62mm | 67mm | 72mm | 77mm | 82mm|
|UV Filters:||40.5mm | 49mm | 62mm | 67mm | 72mm | 77mm | 82mm|
There are so many lens filters available and it can be overwhelming if your not familiar with all the different kinds, so this guide should help point you in the right direction.
Neutral Density filters are primary used to slow down the shutter speed of the camera. Why would you want to slow the shutter speed down you might wonder?? The Blurry Water Effect, Flash Photography Sync Speed Matching, and evening out the sky with a gradient ND filter are a few of the most common reasons you would need a ND Filter. Their also very useful for video when working in sunlight conditions if you want to use really fast aperture glass.
ND filters simply use tinted glass for the most part, or high quality plastic for some of the gradient style filter solutions. Sunglasses will even do the job in a pinch with a small lens 😉
Tiffen 77mm Neutral Density (ND) 0.9 Filter
The 77mm Neutral Density (ND) 0.9 Filter from Tiffen has several uses and offer the possibility to achieve otherwise unachievable results. It enables the shooter to adjust exposure without affecting color balance. ND filters appear gray and reduce the amount of light reaching the either the sensor of a digital camera or the film plane of a traditional film camera. Neutral Density filters are used to create some unusual special effects such as capturing the “blur” of the rippling water of a waterfall or the swirling effect of city traffic. Tiffen’s ColorCore glass is produced through a process that entails permanently laminating the filter material in between two pieces of optical glass that are ground flat to tolerances of a ten-thousandth of an inch, then mounting them in precision aluminum rings. Determining which neutral density filter yields ideal results for any given lighting situation takes knowledge, experience and a collection of such filters.
B+W 77mm 3.0 ND MRC 110M Filter
The B+W 77mm 3.0 ND MRC 110M Filter is a solid neutral density filter providing a 10 stop exposure. This 3.0 density creates a darkening of the entire image, allowing you to photograph with a wider aperture or slower shutter speed than normally required. By slowing your exposure time or increasing your aperture, you are able to control depth of field and convey movement more easily. Neutral density filters do not affect the overall coloration of the image. The Multi-Resistant Coating (MRC) is both an anti-reflection coating as well as a protective surface. It helps to increase light transmission by reducing reflections, scattered light, and ghosting. Additionally, it offers greater protection to the filter substrate and stays cleaner for longer than uncoated filters. B+W filters are constructed from high quality Schott glass for increased optical clarity and color fidelity. They feature a brass filter ring for durability as well as jamming prevention.
- 3.0 ND filter darkens the image, allowing you to photograph with a longer shutter speed or wider aperture than normally required.
- Providing a 10 stop exposure reduction, this filter allows you to control depth of field and convey movement more easily.
- Filter does not affect coloration of the image.
- Multi-Resistant Coating offers both protection to the glass and helps to improve light transmission and image quality.
Compare Prices @ BHPhoto (Click Here) Amazon (Click Here)
Singh-Ray 77mm (Thin Mount) Vari-ND Variable Neutral Density Filter
The Singh-Ray 77mm (Thin Mount) Vari-ND Variable Neutral Density Filter – This neutral density filter gives you the capability to use fast film in bright sunlight. ND filters have several uses and offer the possibility to achieve otherwise unachievable results. They enable the shooter to adjust exposure without affecting color balance. ND filters reduce the amount of light reaching the film. When used with a digital camera, you can effectively see how this filter works. After the initial exposure, you can check your LCD image and then make whatever change in exposure you feel you need to enhance your image. By rotating the ring, you can either increase or decrease the ND effect. This will be especially useful when trying to achieve “blurred” or “panned” shots. The filter contains “index” points to help you mark your spot. They do not represent actual ND settings , i.e. non-calibrated – but are there to help you re-set your filter when you wish to recreate the effect.
Note! Singh-Ray cannot predict when vignetting may occur – especially with very wide angle lenses. To avoid vignetting, adjust your focal length, position, and/or composition to remove the vignetting – use your digital camera’s display for reference.
Compare Prices @ BHPhoto (Click Here) Amazon (Click Here)
The Cokin P-Series Filter System
The Cokin filter system is another great solution that I personally own. I have the P-Series, but they make multiple sizes depending on your needs. I honestly haven’t used it in a while since I’ve been using more HDR Photography techniques, but it is a excellent system that allows the flexibility to get the perfect shot strait off the camera with no post processing. You can also stack filters as the holder that mounts on the fron of the lens can hold several at once. Stacking a Gradient ND and a Full ND Filter is quite common for a sky/ water scene and by the ocean for example and I see Photogs often with these on the front of there cameras. Cokin makes a ton of different filters and kits so below is just a few.
Cokin Graduated Neutral Density Kit
The Graduated Neutral Density Kit from Cokin consists of three filters: 121L (1 stop), 121M (2 stops) and 121S (3 stops). Often it is necessary or desirable to balance the light intensity in one part of a scene with another. This is especially true in situations where you don’t have total light control, as in bright contrasty landscapes. Exposing for the foreground will produce a washed-out, over-exposed sky while exposing for the sky will leave the foreground dark and under-exposed. Cokin graduated ND filters are part clear, part neutral density. They allow the transition to be blended into the scene, often imperceptibly.
These filters have several uses and offers the possibility to achieve very interesting results. They enable the shooter to adjust exposure without affecting color balance. An ND filter appears gray and reduces the amount of light reaching either the sensor of a digital camera or the film plane of a traditional film camera.
A Neutral Density filter is used to create some unusual special effects such as capturing the “blur” of the rippling water of a waterfall or the swirling effect of city traffic. Since it allows the use of slower shutter speeds in bright light, it becomes possible to create these special effects that would normally not be possible to capture without the filter. And, since it can also help to control your depth of field, it permits you to shoot at wider apertures. Ultimately, its value is in helping to prevent bright, overly washed out images shot in bright light.
Cokin filters are used worldwide by pro and amateur photographers. They present an affordable alternative to more expensive filter systems.
Note! Kit requires adapter rings to for your lens, see below
Complete Square Filter Kit for Cokin P Series
– Includes: Graduated Green, Coffee (Brown), Yellow, Purple, Orange, Grey (ND), Blue, Pink and Red Filters + Graduated ND2, ND4, ND8 and Full ND2, ND4, ND8 Filters + 52, 55, 58, 62, 67, 72, 77MM Adapter Rings + Filter Holder + Lens Hood + 1 Premium Goja Microfiber Lens
*Goja Brand. Manufactured to meet the highest standard of design and quality. Compare to Cokin Brand and save!
– Generic Graduated Color Filter Set for Cokin P Series – Red, Blue, Orange, Grey, Yellow, Pink, Coffee, Green and Purple Square Filters*
– Graduated color filters provide a gradual color transition for a smooth blending effect. Give your landscape and skin texture a more colorful touch.
– Simply mount the adapter ring and filter holder to the front of your lens, then slide in different filters to take beautiful, colorful shots.
– Generic ND Filter Set for Cokin P Series – Graduated ND2, ND4, ND8 and Full ND2, ND4, ND8 Square Filters*
– ND filters reduce the amount of light reaching the film without affecting the color. Can be used to enable slower shutter speeds. Also can be used to better separate subjects from the background by allowing wider apertures, effectively decreasing depth of field. Great for portraiture and outdoor scenes.
– Generic 52mm, 55mm, 58mm, 62mm, 67mm, 72mm, 77mm and 82mm Adapter Rings for Cokin P Series Filter Holder*
– Made of high quality anodized black aluminum.
– Generic Square Filter Holder for Cokin P Series*
– To use the square filter holder, an adapter ring must first be mounted on your lens. Slide the filter holder onto the ring adapter until it snaps into place. The filter holder can hold up to three square filters at the same time allowing for creative use of light correction or special effects.
– Generic Square Lens Hood for Cokin P Series*
– This lens hood is designed to work with Cokin P Series filter sets. Easily mounts onto your filter-holder by pressing on the upper and lower parts of the lens hood. Stackable design allows you to attach several of these lens hoods on top of each other, allowing for increased versatility and protection from accidental impact.
– Microfiber Cleaning Cloth Included
Price: ~75.00 @ AMZ
Cokin P-Series Adapter Rings:
Basically you need to connect the Cokin filter system to the front of your lens via the filter threads. So you will need a Cokin lens adapter for that task consisting and here are the few most common sizes:
“P” Series 77mm Adapter Ring (P477) – Compare Prices @ BH | AMZ
“P” Series 49mm Adapter Ring (P449) – Compare Prices @ BH | AMZ
You’ve probably had a pair of polarized or UV Protection sunglasses at some point, or at least tried a pair on. What you will notice is a clearer, crisper images when looking perpendicular to the sun with Polarizers and usually a bluer sky with more contrast in the clouds.. It’s explained in detail how it works Here on Wikipedia, as it’s pretty hard to explain.
Sony 72mm Circular Polarizer
This circular polarizing filter features a slim design to avoid vignetting and Carl Zeiss T* Coating to protect your 72mm lens from dust and scratches. What’s more, the VF-72CPAM filter also suppresses flares and ghosts, giving your photographs a more professional look. An exclusive case is attached to keep your filter protected.
Sony 49mm Circular Polarizer
Sony Circular Polarizer – Light rays, which are reflected, become polarized. Polarizing filters are used to select which light rays enter your camera lens. They can remove unwanted reflections from non-metallic surfaces such as water or glass and also saturate colors providing better contrast.
– All Sony Polarizing Filters @ BH | AMZ
Hoya 77mm NXT Circular Polarizer Filter
The Hoya 77mm NXT Circular Polarizer Filter helps to reduce reflections and glare by filtering out light that has become polarized due to reflection from a non-metallic surface. The light from the sun naturally becomes partially polarized due to reflecting off electrons in air molecules, causing the light to scatter into what appears as haze. A polarizing filter arranges, and filters, this directionally polarized light perpendicularly to the reflected light, allowing for the absorption of much of this light. This results in a noticeable reduction of glare and reflections from non-metallic surfaces and an increase in the saturation of skies and foliage.
B+W 77mm XS-Pro Kaesemann High Transmission Circular Polarizer MRC-Nano Filter
The B+W 77mm XS-Pro Kaesemann High Transmission Circular Polarizer MRC-Nano Filter helps to reduce reflections and glare by filtering out light that has become polarized due to reflection from a non-metallic surface. The light from the sun naturally becomes partially polarized due to reflecting off electrons in air molecules, causing the light to scatter into what appears as haze. A polarizing filter arranges, and filters, this directionally polarized light perpendicularly to the reflected light, allowing for the absorption of much of this light. This results in a noticeable reduction of glare and reflections from non-metallic surfaces and an increase in the saturation of skies and foliage.
Tiffen 77mm Circular Polarizing Filter
Tiffen 77mm Circular Polarizer Filters – Light rays which are reflected become polarized. Polarizing filters are used to select which light rays enter your camera lens. They can remove unwanted reflections from non-metallic surfaces such as water or glass and also saturate colors providing better contrast. The effect can be seen through the viewfinder and changed by rotating the filter. The filter factor varies according to how the filter is rotated and its orientation to the sun.
UV Filters simple absorb the ultra violet light and are also commonly used for lens protection when you don’t want your expensive glass exposed.
B+W 77mm UV Haze MRC 010M Filter
The B+W 77mm UV Haze MRC 010M Filter is a general use, clear filter designed to absorb ultraviolet light and reduce the bluish cast of daylight. Aside from the reduction of unwanted blue casts, no additional coloration or contrast is created, and adjustments to exposure are not required while using this filter. To prevent internal ghosting and reflections while providing over 99.8% light transmission, each glass surface includes eight layers of anti-reflection coating. This Multi-Resistant Coating (MRC) also offers greater protection to the filter substrate and helps it to stay clean for longer than with uncoated filters.
Tiffen 77mm UV Protector Filter
The Tiffen 77mm UV Protector Filter is a general use, clear filter that helps to absorb ultraviolet light and reduce the bluish cast of daylight. This filter is especially useful when photographing at high altitudes or around bodies of water. No additional coloration or contrast is
provided, allowing you to pair this filter with others.
Hoya 77mm HD3 UV Filter
The Hoya 77mm HD3 UV Filter is a general use, clear filter designed to absorb ultraviolet light and reduce the bluish cast of daylight. Aside from the reduction of unwanted blue casts, no additional coloration or contrast is created, and adjustments to exposure are not required while using this filter. To prevent internal ghosting and reflections while providing over 99.7% light transmission, 16 layers of anti-reflection nano coatings are applied to each side. This total of 32 coatings offers a high degree of protection to the filter substrate and helps it to stay clean for longer than uncoated filters. The nano coating formula associated with HD3 UV filters results in an improved beading effect when in contact with water for greater cleaning efficiency and is also effective with regard to oil and stains.