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10-07-2016, 10:05 PM   #1
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Multiple filter size problem

Folks,

I am new to Pentax and am currently buying lenses that I have shortlisted for my style of shooting. Just discovered that the lenses have the following filter sizes:
1. 49mm (2 lenses)
2. 58mm
3. 62mm
4. 77mm




Now how do I buy filters? One for each size? Or should I just buy one size (which one?) and then have step up / step down filter thread adapters? What is the time - tested way?

BTW I was thinking of the following filters:
1. The ubiquitous UV filter... to protect the lens from accidental touching etc
2. Polarizing filter
3. A couple of grades of neutral density filter

Other than 1 above, I see no reason to buy multiple sizes of 2, 3.

10-07-2016, 10:30 PM - 3 Likes   #2
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Protective filters are only of use if you are going into actively hazardous situations where dust and droplets of water will be in contact with your lenses. If used properly, lens hoods and lens caps are perfectly adequate for the purpose of protection. This will cut your costs down, and allow you to focus on getting Polarizers and ND filters - which are more useful anyway.

With Polarizers and neutral density filters, I would suggest that getting one for your widest and/or most commonly used lens to be the most practical way of purchasing one initially - then later buying one that suit your other lenses down the road. I use primes so I have polarizing filters for all of them. Polarizers have reduced utility on longer lenses so prioritize getting one for the wider lenses first. Neutral density filters come in several grades, I'd suggest getting a ND4 and ND8 - because then you can stack them* and further increase the light attenuation.

Having filters of multiple sizes already attached to your lenses means you don't have to spend time threading a filter on, it reduces the chances of the filter getting stuck, it reduces the chances of you running the threads on a lens/filter frame.

You may also look into square filter systems such as what is offered by Lee, Formatt-Hitech, Singh-ray or Cokin - these can be used on virtually every lens, without the bothersome annoyance of screwing them onto your lenses by using a single universal holder with cheap simple adapter rings for each lens. However, high quality square filters can be expensive.

* though be wary, filter stacking can cause issues such as increased vignetting and filter flare.

Last edited by Digitalis; 10-07-2016 at 10:38 PM.
10-07-2016, 10:51 PM - 1 Like   #3
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the most needed filter is a polarizer. Next is a protector filter, Note, a protector filter should be used only when you feel it is necessary, otherwise leave it off. Neutral density filters are optional, You can use a cokin style filter holder for this one, one-size-fits-all. You can combine the two smallest and the two largest together, if you want to save money and use adapter rings for each. You may also need to purchase a lens hood to fit each size filter. it is good to note that filter size is less of a problem these days, when I started photography, you had to have dozens of filters. Black and white filters, tungsten filters, florescent filters, And the list goes on. At times I felt like I had to have a separate bag for my filters. I'm glad I do not need to do that anymore. Although I do carry to additional filters, a Tiffan 812 to warm up skin tones, and an enhancing filter for fall colors. Neither is necessary, both can be done in postprocessing. I just like to get as close to the image that I want without having to do a lot of postprocessing.

Joe.
10-07-2016, 11:41 PM - 1 Like   #4
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When I bought my first DSLR (with a kit lens) I was told to use a UV filter to protect the front element of the lens. However, over the years I have learned about the pros & cons of filter (mostly cons and how it would affect image quality). I am now more in favour of not using any UV/skylight filter at all. I know someone may argue that a filter can protect the front element of the lens. But it appears to me that even if the front element is slightly blemished with scratch, it does not affect image quality. I would however consider using either a ND or polarise filter occasionally for special purposes (enabling taking water falls photos with slow shutter speed). In that case, I would likely be using a wider focal length, therefore, IMO, a ND/CP filter may be useful but not in lenses with normal or long focal lengths. As for the suggestion to the OP, buy the ND/CP filter for the wide-angle or prime lenses and forget about the rest.

10-08-2016, 12:48 AM - 1 Like   #5
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Regarding UV filters, I find them a necessity when shooting in situations involving seawater... big waves on a ferry and I'd rather scratch a cheap UV than the front element of a lens. You have to clear the filter of the fine, salty droplets every minuteeven when being careful not to expose it too much, so a filter is a lifesaver.
Other than that, and maybe trekking (but then a lenscap will do), I don't find much use for a protective filter either.

Regarding polarizers, they have multiple uses: when used with landscapes the intensity of their effect vary in relation with the angle to the sun.
Ultra-wide thus don't benefit much from polarizers in these circumstances, since you're likely to have a fancy-looking sky with different intensities of blue.
Another common use is reducing reflections e.g. when shooting items in a museum. There you're probably not going too wide, unless you're very close to the display case.

Thus I'd buy an UV for all my lenses, a polarizer for my normal(s) and a grad for my wide/ultra-wide, plus a pair of step-up (not down) rings that would allow me to cover a couple more combinations for little cost.
10-08-2016, 05:26 AM - 1 Like   #6
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I agree with others that UV filters are generally more of a negative than a positive, but I'll use them in hazardous conditions. I generally use lens hoods and these can help to protect front elements somewhat. I use both step-up rings and filters in multiple sizes. Some of the larger filters, i.e. 77 mm in your case, can be a good quality filter can be relatively expensive and money can be saved with step-up rings. However, when I shoot landscapes I'll generally alternate between a "regular" view lens and a wide-angle lens and it can be a real hassle changing the lens and the polarizer. So I like to have an exact fit polarizer for my two most frequently used lenses. I've also found there is risk of dropping a filter every time you mount and unmount it. Sometimes an expensive filter won't survive a single drop in a harsh environment, in which case you'll wish you had two of them. I also need to remember that skies can end up looking fake if you use a polarizer for a very wide scene as the effect of the polarizer is not consistent across the entire frame. Finally, if going on a trip be very careful making sure you have what you need. I've sometimes omitted one key filter / step-up ring and it's very annoying!
10-08-2016, 11:22 AM - 1 Like   #7
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When I shot 35mm film, I used step-up/down rings to save money and reduce the bulk of lots of filters, but have since abandoned that solution. The main problem I had was the incompatibility with the lens hood, which I find more valuable than most filters.

My advice is to bite the bullet and get the specific filters for the specific lens. Youʻll want a thin filter for the wide angle zoom or prime, but not for others because of its compromised strength/durability. The step up/down rings also add more distance between the front element and filter which will only increase any effect of back reflection.

BTW: Welcome to Pentax! The system and Pentaxians are a special breed with great qualities and peccadillos. But if you are investing in a new system with 5 lenses, cutting corners on filters would be a mistake like cheap tires on a new car. Your image quality will only be as good as the weakest link or element, so if the filter is going to actually improve your image, donʻt expect miracles from generic solutions. You bought 5 lenses instead of a Sigma 18-300mm for a reason.

10-08-2016, 04:38 PM - 1 Like   #8
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I thing UV are a waste of money for most people. It doesn't even protect very well, because its usually much more breakable then the front lens. A broken filter will probably scratch the front lens more then if you dont use it. If you want to protect the lens, buy a protection lens in stead.

I would choose a strong ND for wide angle and normal. Weak ND are easier done by changing the camera settings or in post.

QuoteOriginally posted by Digitalis Quote
Polarizers have reduced utility on longer lenses so prioritize getting one for the wider lenses first.
I would say the opposite. Wide angles with polarizers will make the sky look weird, so that would go down on my priority list. When using longer focal lengths at long distances, a polarizer at the right angle will reduce haze and the effect of turbulent air. Images will look crisp at longer distances. I would get CPL for slightly wide angles, normal and longer focal lengths.
10-08-2016, 05:52 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Simen1 Quote
Wide angles with polarizers will make the sky look weird
no one is telling you you have to use the polariser at maximum effect for every single shot, the uneven polarization of the sky with lenses wider than 15mm* can in fact be favorable in certain situations. Using polarisers on lenses longer than 200mm is of questionable utility as the FOV is very narrow, and the technical need for shutter speeds to be high to eliminate subject blur/camera shake.


QuoteOriginally posted by Simen1 Quote
polarizer at the right angle will reduce haze and the effect of turbulent air.
No filter can reduce the effect of turbulent air, and it depends on the nature of the haze - the substance that is causing it, as to where a polarizer will be effective in reducing it.

QuoteOriginally posted by Simen1 Quote
I would choose a strong ND for wide angle and normal. Weak ND are easier done by changing the camera settings or in post.
Weak ND filters have their place, and you cannot simulate their effect in camera. ND filters extend exposure times, extending the exposure past two stops in camera will lead to highlight detail being lost. DSLR Sensors don't have the kind of highlight headroom Negative films do.


*on APS-C format, on FX format the focal length where this will begin to be apparent is 28mm

Last edited by Digitalis; 10-08-2016 at 05:58 PM.
10-09-2016, 04:49 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Digitalis Quote
no one is telling you you have to use the polariser at maximum effect for every single shot, the uneven polarization of the sky with lenses wider than 15mm* can in fact be favorable in certain situations. Using polarisers on lenses longer than 200mm is of questionable utility as the FOV is very narrow, and the technical need for shutter speeds to be high to eliminate subject blur/camera shake.
I agree, but its quite situation dependent.

QuoteOriginally posted by Digitalis Quote
No filter can reduce the effect of turbulent air, and it depends on the nature of the haze - the substance that is causing it, as to where a polarizer will be effective in reducing it.
If you are pointing the camera strait up, you are right, but closer to the horizon the wobbling air -effect have a distinct layered structure, wobbling more in the vertical direction then the horizontal direction.

Haze are another phenomenon, usually caused by ozone in the air and are more visible the more air it passes. This haze are polarized as it is caused by the same phenomenon that causes blue sky, Rayleigh scattering. Think of it as amount of atmosphere between the camera and subject.

QuoteOriginally posted by Digitalis Quote
Weak ND filters have their place, and you cannot simulate their effect in camera.
Well, you are right but there are usually a lot of headroom for adjusting exposure before we reach jpeg DR levels. Modern almost ISO-invariant FF and APS-C cameras have 4-5 stops (a 2-4 for Canon) before they reach jpeg linear DR levels. Usually one arent strictly limited to a certain aperture and DoF ether. You can usually adjust the aperture a stop or two before begins do affect the DoF too much. That adds another stop or two in adjustability without having a filter. The same goes for shutter speed. If you want longer shutter speeds, odds are high you want a more noticeable effect then 1 stop.

Taking that large headroom into account the weak ND filters are quite nitpicky in my opinion. I prefer coarser steps to really shift the exposure triangle and play noticeable away from what is within the headroom of play without a filter.
10-09-2016, 06:01 PM - 1 Like   #11
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Regarding protective filters, do as you wish. I used to put them on everything. Now I don't.
For ND and polarizers, I only buy them when I know I'm going to need them. When I do buy them, I get a whole set in that size.
For the 72+ sizes, I have switched to a Lee filter system using 100x100mm square filters.
10-09-2016, 08:08 PM - 1 Like   #12
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Someone already mentioned it, but it might have been lost in the slappyhandfest... is one possibility is to get a large NDF and then use step up rings to attach it to smaller diameter lenses.

For instance a 77mm NDF then use a 58 to 77mm step up ring

wouldn't need any adapter ring for the 77mm diameter lens either.

Make sure you get step UP rings though. Step DOWN rings are also sold and do the opposite (small filter to large lens) which won't help you here.
10-10-2016, 02:57 PM - 1 Like   #13
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I'm in the use a UV filter (for protection) camp..it takes no time to remove when shooting...sometimes I'll leave it on depending on conditions...always remove when shooting Astro..
10-11-2016, 08:45 AM   #14
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Thank you everyone for some tremendous advice! As is usual for such discussions, there are conflicting viewpoints and I have gone over all the posts a few times to understand them and also assess which side / flavor to lean towards myself.

While I take the call, there is something else that I can use your help on: what are some of the good mid-range brands (eg Hoya) / brand-classes (eg HD) for filters? I understand that there are some very expensive brands out there and no doubt the optical quality will be world class, however as a starting point I really want to err on the conservative side. Once I understand filters (especially usefulness of filters at specific FLs), I will feel comfortable spending more money on better / best brands.

Your suggestions on this will be really helpful as I have already spent (unsuccessfully) a considerable amount of time scouring the internet (including PF) to find some good information on conservative first-time buys. (Alex645: I like your car / tire analogy and ardently wish that this car came with the tires... after having spent a good amount of time on deciding on the car, it is becoming desperately time-consuming and confusing selecting the tires :-) )
10-11-2016, 09:05 AM - 1 Like   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by AmaZing Quote
what are some of the good mid-range brands (eg Hoya) / brand-classes (eg HD) for filters? I understand that there are some very expensive brands out there and no doubt the optical quality will be world class, however as a starting point I really want to err on the conservative side. (Alex645: I like your car / tire analogy and ardently wish that this car came with the tires... after having spent a good amount of time on deciding on the car, it is becoming desperately time-consuming and confusing selecting the tires :-) )
I suppose my tires analogy may fall apart as many photographers purposely chose not shoot with any filters and do their filtering in post or shoot jpegs. At B&H, they have nearly 3000 filters, all of which must be selling to someone. Instead of blindly going by brand, unless cost is no problem like Heliopan or B&W, Iʻd suggest:

a) The more multicoatings specified, the better. Get ones with as many as you can budget.
b) Use thin filters for wide angle primes and/or zooms that have shorter focal lengths.
c) If you will only occasionally shoot with a polarizer, then any circular (not linear) polarizer will do. But if you plan on using it extensively, seriously consider one with Kaesemann foils that allow much more transmission of light than standard polarizers. Of course if you want to double your use of the polarizer as a ND, then avoid the Kaesemann types.
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