Filters can take your photography game to the next level and help you combat common issues like difficult lighting or annoying environmental conditions like haze or clouds.
Not sure which one is best for you?
Keep reading to learn about three kinds of filters: polarizing, neutral density, and protection filters. Each type of filter brings something different to the table and knowing how they’re different can help you choose the right one for you! We’ll also cover some filters you can use just for fun!
Polarizing (CPL) Filters
Polarized light in photography refers to the light that reflects off water or other reflective surfaces. When light waves bounce off these types of surfaces all of the light waves begin traveling in one direction creating harsh glares or reflections. Polarizing filters help control the amount of polarized light that reaches your lens.
Polarizing filters are great for reducing glare and reflections in your images. This can be especially useful for landscape photography where you may run into bright reflections off of bodies of water or other non-metallic surfaces. These filters help you cut through the glare when shooting through windows or wet surfaces where reflections may overpower details and texture.
These filters are also great for enhancing the colors in your images because they help you cut through scattered light or atmospheric haze to reveal pronounced clouds, vibrant foliage, or a true blue sky.
We recommend these polarizing filters!
Neutral Density (ND) Filters
From controlling color balance to helping you maintain standard cinematic settings, Neutral density filters are a super useful tool in several different applications! These filters evenly reduce the amount of light that reaches your camera.
Perhaps its most basic and predominant use is for controlling exposure. In environments where the light is too bright, photographers can use this filter to increase their control over exposure by decreasing the amount of light reaching the camera allowing for a larger aperture or slower shutter speed than what the environment would typically allow for. Because you can use this type of filter to slow down shutter speeds and increase aperture, they’re useful for capturing motion blur or shallow depth of field in bright environments.
Landscape photographers can benefit from utilizing these filters for balancing exposures. Often when photographing landscapes, the sky can be much brighter than the ground, resulting in challenging differences in exposures. Using a ND filter helps you balance the overall exposure of the scene and make adjustments from there.
Videographers can also benefit from this type of filter! ND filters are often used in filmmaking for controlling exposure which can be integral to maintaining cinematic shutter speeds in bright locations or capturing motion effects.
Neutral density filters come in different “stops”, the higher the number the greater the reduction of light. Some filters have a variable reduction and rely on the photographer to rotate the filter for the desired density.
Check out the ND Filters we recommend!
This ones easy! Protection filters protect your lens. Lenses are expensive and while filters can be an investment, damaging a filter will be easier on your wallet than a damaged lens.
Protection filters help keep your lens safe from dirt, dust, fingerprints, scratches, and the elements. Plus, if something flies into or hits your lens or you happen to drop your lens there’s a good chance the filter will crack and not your lens (hopefully). Other than damage protection, filters are much easier and quicker to take off and clean than a lens!
Either way, protection filters are a great extra layer of protection against all the situations you and your lens may find yourself in!
Most protection filters are just transparent layers over your lens, though some have coatings that help with lens flare or ghosting. Even though it may seem simple, it’s super important to choose a high quality filter otherwise it will negatively impact the image quality.
Check out the protection filters we recommend!
Filters aren’t all about utility! Some are designed specifically for adding fun and creative affect to your images!
The PolarPro 67mm QuartzLine Bluemorphic Streak Filter is designed to create the look of anamorphic lens light streaks without the need for stylized cinematography lenses. This filter transforms bright light sources or reflections into a blue streak flare effect!
The NiSi 77mm Black Mist Filter 1-8 is designed to lower contrast by diffusing highlights and lifting shadows. This filter helps balance the tonal range and creates a cinematic look. It can also be used to soften wrinkles and blemishes to create a more flattering image of a subject. This lens is most effective when diffused backlit light resulting in transparent light that looks like it was taken with a vintage lens.
The NiSi 58mm Natural Night Filter helps you break through light pollution and properly capture the night sky by blocking the wavelengths that pollute the night sky! Perfect for astrophotographers!
Want to learn more about filters? Join filter’s expert, Jim Reisman from NiSi for a day of filter fun! Plus explore the filters you need for awesome solar eclipse photography at Jim’s Solar Eclipse class!