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5 Days Ago   #1
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Use of filters and their need and affects on modern DSLRs

I used to use various filters on my Spotmatic and had some favorites.

I was curious about the use of filters today especially since you have so much control in taking a photo using a DSLR and it is somewhat easy now to manipulate a photo in post processing?

I was also wondering about how they might affect some functions of DSLRs such as auto focusing and white balance?

Are there advantages in using a filter in certain circumstances instead of relying on post processing?

Finally, what filters do you regularly use if you do use them?

Note: This is somewhat related and probably old school, but when I was searching filters, I ran across something that I never used before and it is a white balance lens cap. I was just curious if it worked or useful.

5 Days Ago - 2 Likes   #2
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Here are the bullet points:
  • Colored filters for B&W photography have limited use on a digital camera. One can certainly use them with fixed color temperature and processing to monochrome, but the same may be accomplished in PP with less trouble
  • ND filters are very popular to allow long exposures under bright conditions
  • Graduated ND are favored by landscape photographers and in some ways are better than doing the same in PP
  • Polarizer filters are used similarly to film photography and have utility beyond what is possible in PP
  • Color tint filters (warming and such) are not useful due the ease of doing this in PP
  • Color correction filters for white balance are not useful for digital
  • Special effect (e.g. starburst and such) are usable, but less popular than in the old days.
  • Both screw-on and those requiring filter holders are still popular
I seldom use filters of any kind for my dSLR work and then only a "skylight" for protection from water spray/splash (particularly the salty kind) or dust.


Steve

Last edited by stevebrot; 5 Days Ago at 11:59 AM.
5 Days Ago - 1 Like   #3
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I can't leave the house without a polarizer. I think I have one for almost every lens I own, and being stage 4 LBA, that's a lot of polarizers. Just be really careful of uneven skies on wide angle lenses (just don't dial it in as much) I also have too many ND filters. And finally, I'm in the camp that puts a high quality UV filter on most of my lenses. I think the key here is not being cheap, or you can degrade image quality, but I think if you stay with top brands like B+W or Breakthrough Photography, you'd be very hard pressed to have any loss. Also, I do a lot of shooting on/around/across water and landscapes, and I do feel that in some situations, the UV filter improves contrast/color saturation a hair. Do note that UV light doesn't affect a digital sensor like it did film, so different stuff at work here. Final thought is if you are anyplace you might get stuff tossed on the front element, I'd rather clean it off my UV filter - a hood won't protect from things like air born sand and salt spray.
5 Days Ago   #4
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I only use a polarizer in special circumstances (landscapes, water, etc.) as they block more light than I would like.
I also use heavily-stopped ND filters for very long exposures (waterfalls, etc.).

Other than that I do not see the use of filters in the digital era.
I can accomplish the effect of most other filters in PP.

I enjoy this video, especially around the 9:30 mark:


5 Days Ago   #5
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I use polarizing, ND, and square graduated ND filters.

Sometimes it's about getting a shot that would be tricky or not the same with pp alone. For example when it has to be a single exposure due to movement, or when lifting the shadows leads to excessive noise for single image shots. Polarizers can't be replicated to add details seen under reflecting surfaces.

But it's more that I like the workflow when I don't have to do a lot of multi-image editing, I'd rather fiddle with filters than in pp.
I started using nd grad filters because I wanted to be able to shoot nicer landscapes on film, then I continued to use them for digital.

That being said, for simple static landscapes I often use the in camera hdr, do all adjustments from the raw file, and leave most filters in the bag.

Last edited by aaacb; 5 Days Ago at 03:29 PM.
4 Days Ago   #6
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When scenery is wet the reflections can be eliminated with a polarizer in many cases to make the colors deeper. In my opinion using a tripod with slow shutter speeds is not that inconvenient. And a polarizer is usually enough to get slower shutter speeds for waterfalls, if you like that effect. Don't know if I have ever used ND filters or needed them.

It is good to know that software can accomplish the same thing, but not everyone wants to learn all the tricks.
4 Days Ago   #7
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As with the people above I use polarisers and ND filters as solid 'colour/tone' filters, I also use pass and cut filters for infrared, but that's a pretty unusual application.

Grad filters are useful for ND, and I do use colour grad filters like red and yellow for black and white landscape at times as they have the effect of an ND but with added tonal separation for clouds. It could be done in PP, but I find it useful to do it in camera if it's not going to take any longer. I do have a soft spot for colour filters for B&W, though I can't argue for them doing anything that can't be done in post, I like to use them for previsualisation reasons. Colour correction/white balance filters are largely useless.

Skylight and UV filters can be useful as they can reduce haze, and they are useful for lens protection, but there is a tradeoff usually in that any extra glass in front of the lens will reduce sharpness to some degree, and they can cause internal reflections, especially at night, so YMMV, it's a tradeoff.

Last edited by sqrrl; 4 Days Ago at 08:13 PM. Reason: reasons...
4 Days Ago - 1 Like   #8
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Quite a demonstration

QuoteOriginally posted by FozzFoster Quote
I only use a polarizer in special circumstances (landscapes, water, etc.) as they block more light than I would like.
I also use heavily-stopped ND filters for very long exposures (waterfalls, etc.).

Other than that I do not see the use of filters in the digital era.
I can accomplish the effect of most other filters in PP.

I enjoy this video, especially around the 9:30 mark:
You (probably) DON'T Need Polarizing, UV, or ND Filters: Simulate them for FREE! - YouTube
That is a great video for this topic and then some.

Thanks.

3 Days Ago   #9
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I use filters on most of my lenses...invariably German made B & W clear filters. The B & W filters are pricey and my view is why would you put a cheap filter on in front of your expensive glass.

I've tested my lenses with and without the B & W's and frankly I can't tell the difference with or without. I put 'em on for protection. Usually the use of filters for protection purposes ignites a discussion about whether they're (filters) are useful. I feel they are. I also change oil and filter every 5000 kms (3000 miles)...same deal there. Some say I'm wasting my money, others say they do the same thing as I do.
3 Days Ago   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by wings Quote
I used to use various filters on my Spotmatic and had some favorites.

I was curious about the use of filters today especially since you have so much control in taking a photo using a DSLR and it is somewhat easy now to manipulate a photo in post processing?

I was also wondering about how they might affect some functions of DSLRs such as auto focusing and white balance?

Are there advantages in using a filter in certain circumstances instead of relying on post processing?

Finally, what filters do you regularly use if you do use them?

Note: This is somewhat related and probably old school, but when I was searching filters, I ran across something that I never used before and it is a white balance lens cap. I was just curious if it worked or useful.
There are reasons why one would want to use a WB filter with digital, this relates to how the sensor captures color and more specifically how the 3 color channels saturate during the exposure.

For normal daylight shots you will find that the green channel will saturate much quicker than the red channel would, to combat this you can use magenta filter so that how the sensor saturates is more evenly.
So when a magenta filter is used in daylight you can block about a stop of light in the green and blue channels and allow you to use a 1stop longer shutter speed, this can be handy for use when photographing when blurring movement is needed

This also comes in handy when you are shooting scenes with a lot of red and greens so that you can reduce the amount of noise found in the red channel that in turn give you better detail in those reds.

You can also WB filters for artificial light where often times you have a very strong light source that can cause you to clip that light's color way before any of the other colors. Again this will help you and aid in reducing noise for in the colors that have not received as much light. in the shadows and or night sky.

I also light to use both ND grad filters for times that I don't want to bracket a scene for HDR most of the time I use a 1 stop. I also like ND filters to increase the duration of my shutter speed for blurring motion.
3 Days Ago   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by sqrrl Quote
.... there is a tradeoff usually in that any extra glass in front of the lens will reduce sharpness to some degree, and they can cause internal reflections....
With modern zoom lenses having typically 15 elements or more, I feel that an additional flat filter is not going to make much difference if it is coated and of good quality. I have some old Hoya multi-coated skylight ones that I keep on for protection.

As others have said, a polarising filter is just as useful in digital as it was for film. While I have never used my DSLR in B&W mode, I would also have thought that yellow, orange and red filters would still be as useful for darkening blue sky, and simpler and quicker than PP surely?
3 Days Ago   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lord Lucan Quote
I would also have thought that yellow, orange and red filters would still be as useful for darkening blue sky, and simpler and quicker than PP surely?
They do have their uses to preWB the light reaching the sensor, anytime you adjust color ( with software) to compensate for a scene you are multiplying one or more color channels for that channel having a lower signal. If you can adjust preWB before the sensor captures the light, you will allow each channel to more evenly capture the light while not clipping the color channel that would normally receive most light. This is important as many times that's the channel that determines how you set your exposure as not to clip data.
3 Days Ago   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lord Lucan Quote
With modern zoom lenses having typically 15 elements or more, I feel that an additional flat filter is not going to make much difference if it is coated and of good quality. I have some old Hoya multi-coated skylight ones that I keep on for protection.

As others have said, a polarising filter is just as useful in digital as it was for film. While I have never used my DSLR in B&W mode, I would also have thought that yellow, orange and red filters would still be as useful for darkening blue sky, and simpler and quicker than PP surely?
Usually I'd agree that a protection filter doesn't effect much, but I have observed on a couple of lenses that bright lights cause reflections when I'm photographing at night. It doesn't happen often, but when it happens it's pretty noticeable.

Personally often I do use colour filters for B&W with digital cameras, a large part of that is because I'm used to using them for B&W film, so I find it useful for previsualisation reasons, plus while I am pretty ok at photoshop it's not my favorite thing, so anything I can do in camera is a bonus for me personally.
3 Days Ago   #14
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This has been very interesting and I am learning a great deal.

Are there differences in the use of WB filter or really any filter for that matter, when shooting in Raw mode verses JPEG mode? Let me ask this in a different way.

1- If you shoot in RAW mode do you think that you should use filters including WB? I thought that if you shoot in Raw mode that you could apply a WB to the image in PP? I was thinking that if you are shooting in RAW mode then that assumes that you intend to do PP.

2- If you are shooting in JPEG mode is it better to use a WB filter or any filter, rather than PP? Also, do you adjust or tune the WB with or without the filter?

Curious if some of the replies are tempered by the mode selected, that is RAW and/or JPEG?
2 Days Ago   #15
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I still think polarizers are a good investment... that is if one can keep track of them. I'm going to resign myself to one set of filters per camera bag, which means I guess I'll have to buy 1000 sets of filters.

I've found the Kaesemann B+W filters are pretty good, and can be found used for a fairly reasonable price.
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