Using Lens Filters with Your Digital SLR
After you have been using your camera for some time you may want to experiment with other ways to improve your photos. Once you have the basics down pat you will want to try out (or may have already) different kinds of filters for different situations. This can add slight improvements to photos especially under certain conditions.
What is a Lens?
The lens is the tool containing the glass elements which ‘refract’ light onto the camera sensor which it is digitized into a photo. Depending on your camera these lenses are either permanent or can be interchanged for other lenses. Even if you do have a non changeable lens camera system you should check to see if there is some ‘thread’ inside the front of the lens that will allow you to have some add ons.
In order to attach a filter to your lens you will need a screw thread for attachments. If you cannot see a distinct threading on the lens itself then be sure to check with your manual or manufacturer.
What is a Filter?
A filter is a plate highly refined glass which attaches to the front of the lens. It alters the behavour of the light the lens and onto the sensor. A filter is able to adapt certain situations and conditions and improve your shots:
- Indoor shots
- Macro photography
- Night scenes
Filters will fit a lens according to its size of it’s circumference which is usually listed in millimetres on the front of lens. For an example Olympus digital camera like the EP2 commonly will need a 58mm filter attached. You can apply many effects from a filter on a photo editing program like photoshop but some can only be applied by a filter for example the polarizing filter.
Types of Filters and When to Use Them
There are so many different types of filters on the market but these are the main ones that most photographers find useful:
- Polarisers – A polarising filter is the only filter that can not be reproduced by computer software. It works by taking reflections away and this can bring much deeper contrast to your shots. It will also give you deeper colours and clearer definition as well as giving you shots of clear water without surface reflections plus deeper blue in the sky.
- Neutral Density – This type of filter may seem like a clear piece of glass but is actually used for another purpose. It lowers the amount of light reaching the sensor ‘slows down’ your shots. This gives you a lot of creative options.
- Ultra Violet – UV filters were more common with film photography as they cut out any excessive haze. It can be helpful in protecting your camera lens from damage as an added bonus.
- Warming & Cooling Filters – Warming and cooling filters help by altering the ‘colour temperature’ or mood of a shot. You can ‘warm’ a landscape to make it look more appealing. Where a ‘cooling’ filter will add drama to a night scene.