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02-21-2009, 11:49 AM   #1
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Lens filters...

I just got a K20D (I'm loving it!) I am totally new to photography. I don't know anything about lens filters. As a newbie, do I need any? Do I need UV filters to protect my lenses when I'm shooting outside? Are there any other filters I need to consider? Brand?

PS - I have a Pentax SMCP-FA 50 mm 1.4 prime lens and a Pentax 75 mm - 300 mm - f/4.5-5.8 AL zoom lens.


02-21-2009, 12:43 PM   #2
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Basically there is no need for filters. If you shoot in harsh environments, i.e. at a windy beach, where your lens is exposed to salt water spray or sand, a protective filter makes sense. Oztherwise in most circumstances the lens hood, that comes with your lens (or if not, you should buy one) provides enough protection.

If you advance in photography you will experience the need for two or three more filter types:
- polarizing filters, which intensify colours by removing glare. They are most often used to darken a bright blue sky. For the K20 you would buy (as forany other digital camera) for the so called "circular polarizer", not the older "linear" variety.

- a graduated grey filter looks exactly that. A grey (colour neutral) graduation from dense at the rim to completely clear near the other rim of the filter. I is used to darken an overly bright area in the image. The aim is, to reduce the contrast of the image, to allow for a better capture by the camera. It is often used to reduce the sky brightness, but could also be used to reduce the intensity of snow or bright sand at a sunny beach.

- neutral grey filters to reduce overall brightness, without closing the aperture or reducing the shutter speed. These are most helpful for outdoor portraits, when it is bright, but you need an open aperture (small aperture number) to get a narrow depth of field or if you need to reduce shutter speed for that occasion to use fill-flash.

If this sounds like Kisuaheli to you, then you do not have the need for these filters (yet). But during your photographic career you will encounter these couple of filters for sure.

02-21-2009, 02:17 PM   #3
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Here's a useful link.

Filter recommendation - Digital Camera Resource Page Forums
02-21-2009, 06:46 PM   #4
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Original Poster
Thanks! Lots of good info.
I think I may go for some UV filters, but I won't be in a hurry about it.
I do not, however, have hoods yet, so I should probably spring for a couple of those soon.

02-21-2009, 07:00 PM   #5
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Congrats on having a great camera, and 2 sweet lenses.

You don't really need the filters to start, but, you may change your opinion, as you get to know your camera and it's abilities. (Or your tastes).

My primes (the more expensive of my lenses) all have UV filters, because I want to keep them in their best condition possible. Some of my other lenses were sold with filters (some from other Forum members).
02-22-2009, 08:44 AM   #6
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browse thru the marketplace and you will occasionally find some great prices on filters.
02-22-2009, 10:01 AM   #7
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There's lots of opinions on whether or not to use a filter (usually UV) as lens "protection". Personally, I think it's a good idea - BUT, you have to use "good glass". It doesn't make sense to have an expensive, high quality lens and put a cheap, crappy piece of glass in front of it!

Having said that, I think you'll really want a CPL (circular polarizer) filter - great for cutting reflections and making the clouds "pop".
02-22-2009, 12:08 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by kewpie-o Quote
Thanks! Lots of good info.
I think I may go for some UV filters, but I won't be in a hurry about it.
I do not, however, have hoods yet, so I should probably spring for a couple of those soon.
Lens hoods are much(!) more important than filters. They will reduce reflections on the lens and thus improve contrast and colour rendition. That they are very effective in preventing damage to your lens, is an added bonus.

By the way: If you use the search function, you will find loads of good info about filters pros and cons.


02-23-2009, 08:52 PM   #9
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Here's another great link I found very helpful. Don't worry, we've all had the same questions.
3 Filters You Need Now! - - PopPhotoJanuary 2008
02-23-2009, 09:42 PM   #10
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Contrary to ChipB's suggestion, I would strongly recommend avoiding the use of a circular polarizer for outdoor photography, because once you see what it can do you'll never want to shoot outdoors without one again!

Seriously, though, if you do go for a polarizer or any other filter, spend the extra and get a better filter - you definitely get what you pay for. Especially if you have a better lens. (Who would want to put bargain tires on a Mercedes?) Anyhow I'm not talking about a Singh-Ray brand of filter if you're just starting out, but a Hoya or B+W filter would be a great balance between price and quality.

Some people also use the trick of buying a filter with a 77mm diameter for their lenses with 49 or 58mm filter diameters and using step up rings to allow the filter to fit their lenses. This way, if they ever buy a wide angle or other lens that requires a 77mm filter, they already have one and don't have to buy more than one type of filter. So there's my 3 cents' worth.
02-24-2009, 09:16 AM   #11
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Use UV filters only if there is a real risk of touching the front element of the lens. Invest on a quality filter like B+W. Because you are placing a piece of glass in front of the lens and thereby theoretically degrading the image to certain extent. That is why quality filter (also unfortunately expensive) is recommended. Otherwise lens hood will do the job of protecting the front element in 90% of the time.

Just my 2 cents........

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