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01-13-2014, 08:34 AM   #1
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Filters, do you really need them?

If filters were that important wouldn't the manufacturers ship their lenses with filters by default? How necessary are they and what do they actually do to increase image quality?

01-13-2014, 08:37 AM   #2
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Polarizing filters, neutral density filters, and gradient filters all can improve images but won't be applicable in every situation.

I have 5 or 6 49mm lenses, glad I didn't have to pay for the same filters every time.
01-13-2014, 09:27 AM   #3
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Polarizing filters can be used to enhance blue skies and cut reflections on non-metallic objects, one of the most common uses is to bring out leaf colours after a rain.

Neutral density filters allow the use of very long shutter speeds to get that smooth water effect on waterfalls.

Gradient filters, or graduated neutral density filters, are used to dim the sky portion of landscapes so that the dynamic range of a sensor is not exceeded. The inexpensive, but more of a hassle, system is to expose two images and combine them in software. There are two types, a hard edge and soft edge. Hard edges require exact placement on the transition point, such as the tree line in a sunset shot. Soft edges on a graduated filter do not require quite as precise a placement, and are generally easier to use, particularly when the transition point is not a straight line.
01-13-2014, 09:57 AM   #4
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UV filters do little except cause flare and haze. The can protect the front element, though.

01-13-2014, 10:02 AM   #5
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UV and like filters are merely to protect the lens. Other specialized lenses like CPL and ND filters are used for specific use.

Some lens manufactures are in the business of lenses and not in the filters while others are the other way aroung like B+W. Tiffen and others.
01-13-2014, 10:06 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Kozlok Quote
UV filters do little except cause flare and haze. The can protect the front element, though.
For landscapes a polarizing and ND filter for long shutter speeds are very useful for me. The graded ND filters are finicky to use and that effect can be done with reasonable results in PP, but the poarizer not and the slow shutter speed with a lot of effort. So my take is a ND filter and ploarizer for my 18-135. The 300 has to go naked though
01-16-2014, 11:07 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Basie Quote
For landscapes a polarizing and ND filter for long shutter speeds are very useful for me. The graded ND filters are finicky to use and that effect can be done with reasonable results in PP, but the poarizer not and the slow shutter speed with a lot of effort. So my take is a ND filter and ploarizer for my 18-135. The 300 has to go naked though
I just invested a lot of money in the Cokin Filter system because graduated ND filters are INVALUABLE in certain situations and the effect cannot be done in PP. The EV difference in scenes at sunrise and sunset can be brutal for detail. Without GND, you have to severely underexpose your foreground which brings in noise and other undesirable aspects, plus makes for double the PP work. I'm still working out the handling bugs of the Cokin system, but so far the image results have been very positive. I get nice saturated sky colors and still retain detail in foreground because both are properly exposed.

If you shoot sunrise or sunset scenes, you need GND filters. If you shoot moving water and want the silky effect you need 1-2 stop minimum ND filters. I'll often stack a CPL on top of an ND when working with waterfalls because the CPL controls some of the harsh reflections (from pools/rocks/outflow) and takes away another stop or so of light.

I use UV filters when I'm not using a CPL because I'm paranoid about front element issues and I'd much rather clean a filter than a coated lens.
01-16-2014, 11:16 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by peterjcb Quote
If filters were that important wouldn't the manufacturers ship their lenses with filters by default? How necessary are they and what do they actually do to increase image quality?
to answer your specific question, what filters would you want shipped with the lens? Some people use UV, some don't (hate them). If you hate UV filters, would you want to pay for a filter you'll never use?
same thing can be said for CPLs, and CPLs depending on filter size (and quality) can range in price as much as $150. I would hate for my lens to come with a crappy CPL I'll never use because I've just paid a premium for it, and I still have to go out and buy one myself that fits my needs.
and what about ND filters? I shoot waterfalls and need them, but some people who will never shoot a waterfall in their lives wouldn't want to pay for them to be included with the lens.
and add in all the manufacturing costs to cover the variables, you'll pay a lot more for a lens (and included filters) because of this.

I don't want my lens manufacturer to be "a jack of all trades and a master of none". I want each portion of my kit to be mastered, thus separate parties for lenses and filters.

01-16-2014, 11:34 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by peterjcb Quote
Filters, do you really need them?
yes I do. do YOU?

01-16-2014, 11:41 AM   #10
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For digital era, CPL and ND filters are the most useful.
Other filters that could go under the "creative" realm and could be useful, are the macro filters (I use them from time to time).

As for "protection filters", you are better off using a hood rather than a filter.
UV filters does nothing on digital cameras - actually most of them (except some very expensive ones) affects the IQ (in a negative way).
Actually, a hood will help with the IQ too .
01-16-2014, 11:44 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by jjdgti Quote
UV and like filters are merely to protect the lens.
...though they were (and are) very useful for film photography where UV can decrease overall contrast with landscape photography. (Most films are biased towards the blue end of the spectrum and are sensitive to UV.)


Steve
01-16-2014, 11:44 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by mrNewt Quote
As for "protection filters", you are better off using a hood rather than a filter.
What he said...


Steve
01-16-2014, 11:50 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by peterjcb Quote
If filters were that important wouldn't the manufacturers ship their lenses with filters by default?
Some do and have, though not in the way you might think. Built-in filters (part of the optical path) were common in ultra-wide angle and some fisheyes in the past. You would change filters (usually yellow, blue/green, and red) by rotating a dial. In addition to the permanent, built-in kind, other makers opted for rear-mounted filters. My Zenitar 16mm Fisheye is that way. A clear glass filter is mounted at the factory and the unit shipped with yellow, red, and green included with the kit.


Steve
01-16-2014, 11:52 AM   #14
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^ Adding on that, a lot of new modern digital cameras do ship their cameras with "built in" ND filters.
01-16-2014, 05:01 PM   #15
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After starting the nitro methane thread, I learned I should probably use one to protect the front coating.
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