Lens Filters Explained

Camera lens filters can serve different purposes in digital photography. They can be indispensable for capturing scenery in extremely difficult lighting conditions, they can enhance colors and reduce reflections or can simply protect lenses. Filters are widely used in photography and cinematography and while some only use filters in rare situations, others rely on filters for their everyday work. For example, landscape photographers heavily rely on various filters, while street and portrait photographers rarely get to use them. Since digital photography is all about the quality and intensity of light, lens filters are often necessary to modify the light before it enters the lens. Many photographers think that some of the built-in tools in Lightroom and Photoshop can simulate filter behavior, making filters redundant in the digital age. As I will demonstrate below, some filters in fact can never be simulated in software and some actually help in getting even better results during post-processing. In this article, I will talk about the different types of lens filters available, what they do, when and how to use them.

Lee Filter Set

1) What are filters and why should you use them?

Why do you wear sunglasses? Because along with other benefits, they help you see better in intense light, protect your eyes from harmful UV rays/wind/dust and reduce glare. Filters also serve a similar purpose – they can help reduce reflections, protect your lenses from potential damage, fully or partially reduce the amount of light that enters the lens and even enhance colors. At the same time, filters can actually hurt photographs if they are not properly used. A good analogy would be wearing sunglasses in a dark room. Therefore, not only do you need to know what filters to use, but you also need to know how to use them and in which situations. There are many different kinds of filters out there – from cheap UV filters to very expensive filters worth several hundred dollars, which can make the process of choosing the right filter type rather challenging.

Let’s go through the different types of filters that are available today.

2) Overview of types of lens filters

Here is a list of typical lens filters you can purchase today, along with descriptions of their purposes:

Lens FilterPhotography TypePurpose
UV/Clear/Haze FilterAnyProtects the front element of a lens from dust, dirt, moisture and potential scratches. High quality UV filters can be permanently mounted on lenses with a minimum impact on image quality.
Polarizing FilterAnyFilters out polarized light, dramatically reducing reflections, enhancing colors and increasing contrast. Can be used for any type of photography. Polarizing filters are typically circular, allowing for easy control of the effect of polarization.
Neutral Density (ND) FilterLandscape, Flash PhotographyReduces the amount of light entering the lens, thus decreasing camera shutter speed. Useful for situations where motion blur needs to be created (rivers, waterfalls, moving people) or large apertures must be used with flash to avoid overexposure.
Hard-Edge Graduated Neutral Density (GND) FilterLandscape PhotographyHard-edge GND filters are primarily used in high contrast situations, where the sky is much brighter than the foreground and the horizon is flat. These filters are always rectangular (giving the ability to move them in all directions) and are typically used with filter holders.
Soft-Edge Graduated Neutral Density (GND) FilterLandscape PhotographySoft-edge GND filters are also used in high contrast situations, but where the horizon is not necessarily flat. The soft edge allows for smoother transitions, making the use of a filter less evident. Soft-edge GND filters are also rectangular and are normally used with filter holders.
Reverse Graduated Neutral Density (GND) FilterLandscape PhotographyThe reverse GND is a specialized filter used by landscape photographers when shooting against the sun while it is setting close to the horizon. While a regular GND filter gradually transitions from dark to clear towards the center, a reverse GND filter transitions from dark to less dark from the center to the edge.
Color/Warming/Cooling FilterAnyCorrects colors, resulting in a change in camera white balance. Some color filters can subtract colors, blocking one type of color and allowing other colors through. These types of filters were popular for film. They are rarely used in digital photography, since their effects can be easily applied in post-processing.
Close-Up FilterMacro PhotographyAlso known as “diopter”, a close-up filter allows a lens to focus closer on subjects. These filters are only used for macro photography.
Special Effects FilterAnyThere are a few different types of special effects filters. Star filters make bright objects look star-like; softening/diffusion filters create a “dreamy” look used for portraits, multivision filters create multiple copies of a subject; infrared filters block infrared and pass visible light; bokeh filters have a certain shape cut in the middle of the filter that makes bokeh highlights have the same shape, etc.

3) Types of Lens Filters

Lens filters come in different shapes and forms, as shown below. The most popular lens filters are circular, screw-on filters. Those mount directly onto the filter thread in front of a lens. They come in different sizes, depending on the lens filter thread. The standard and the most common size of screw-on filters for professional lenses is 77mm.

Types of Lens Filters:

  1. Circular screw-on filters – most common type that mounts directly on the lens filter thread. Examples of circular screw-on filters include UV/Clear/Haze filters, circular polarizers, neutral density and color filters. Circular filters also come in different thicknesses – some are thick that can potentially add vignetting, while others are ultra-thin to diminish vignetting, but make it impossible to put a lens cap.
  2. Square filters – a popular choice for landscape and other photography. A filter holder directly attaches to the lens filter thread and can hold one or more filters. The most popular sizes are 3×3 and 4×4. Can be stacked together in certain situations, which can negatively impact image quality and add reflections.
  3. Rectangular filters – another popular choice, primarily among landscape photographers. Mounted just like square filters via a filter holder system. Because it is impractical for graduated neutral density filters to be circular (due to different sizes of high-contrast areas and composition), rectangular filters are the primary choice for landscape photography. Unlike square filters, they have more room to move up and down. The most popular size is 4×6, although larger and smaller filter sizes are also available.
  4. Drop-in filters – these filters are used inside long telephoto lenses, due to the large size of the front lens element. Only clear and polarizing filters are used for drop-in filters.

4) Lens Filters Explained in Detail

Let me go through each filter type in detail and show the effects they produce in pictures (where applicable). It is often too difficult to understand what each filter does and decide on whether you need it or not, so I hope the below information will make it easier for you to decide whether you want a particular type of filter or not.

4.1) UV/Clear/Haze Filter

B+W UV Haze MRC Filter

The purpose of a UV / Clear / Haze filters today is to simply protect the front element of a lens. In the past, these filters were used to block UV from hitting the film. All digital camera sensors have a UV/IR filter in front of the sensor, so there is no more need to use UV filters on DSLRs. Many photographers use these types of filters for protection, because it is easier and cheaper to replace a filter than to try to repair a scratched or broken lens element. I personally prefer to keep a clear filter on my lenses at all times, because they are easier to clean.

One thing you have to make sure before you purchase a clear filter, is that you buy high quality glass with special multi-resistant coating (MRC). The worst thing you can do is mount a low quality filter in front of an expensive lens. Not only will it hurt image quality, but it will also add nasty reflections, ghosts and flares to your images. I personally prefer B+W F-Pro MRC filters (they are not cheap), but you can also purchase other great alternatives from Tiffen, Hoya and other manufacturers.

Should you use a clear filter permanently on your lenses? This question brings up heated debates between photographers. Many believe that adding a piece of glass in front of lenses only hurts images and does very little to protect them, while others like me keep them for piece of mind and easier cleaning. Some lenses with threaded front elements like the Nikon 50mm f/1.4G can be painful to clean, so a clear filter would make lens maintenance less cumbersome.

To avoid vignetting and other problems, UV filters should never be stacked with other filters.

4.2) Polarizing Filter

B+W Circular Polarizing Filter

There are two types of polarizing filters – linear and circular. Linear polarizers should not be used on DSLR cameras, because they can result in metering errors. Circular polarizers, on the other hand, are perfect for DSLRs and do not cause any metering issues due to their construction. Circular polarizing filters are essentially linear polarizers, with a second glass element attached to their back that circularly polarizes the light, giving accurate exposure results when the light hits the light meter. When the two elements are aligned at the right handle and orientation from the sun, the captured image could have more saturated colors, bluer skies, less reflections and higher overall contrast. Polarizing filters can also reduce haze, which is very useful for landscape photographers.

I never leave my home without a polarizing filter. When photographing landscapes, I often use a polarizing filter to spice up the colors, darken the sky and reduce haze. Polarizing filters are a must when photographing waterfalls or other wet scenery with vegetation.

There are a couple of potential issues that you need to understand when using a polarizing filter:

  1. There is a minimum and a maximum effect of polarization, depending on the filter alignment. You should rotate the filter every time you compose for best results. Take a look at this example of minimum and maximum effect of polarization:

    Minimum and Maximum Effect of Polarization

  2. The effect of polarization changes relative to the sun. The maximum effect of polarization is achieved when the lens is pointed 90 degrees from the sun (in any direction). A simple trick is to form a pistol with your index and thumb fingers, then point your index finger at the sun. Keep pointing at the sun and rotate your hand clockwise and counter-clockwise. The maximum effect of polarization will be where your thumb points in any direction.
  3. Avoid using a polarizing filter on ultra wide-angle lenses. You might end up with a partially dark sky that will be tough to fix in post-processing. Here is an example of what happens when using a polarizer on a wide-angle lens:
    Wide-angle lens polarization
  4. In some cases the maximum effect of polarization can result in an unnatural-looking dark blue sky as shown below:
    Extreme case of polarization

  5. There is a loss of approximately 2 stops of light when using polarizing filters, so you should watch your shutter speed when shooting with a polarizer hand-held. Singh-Ray polarizing filters are better than others in this regard and only lose around 1 stop of light.
  6. Polarizing filters are typically thicker than regular filters and therefore can result in unwanted vignetting.

To avoid vignetting, polarizing filters should not be stacked with other filters. Due to light loss, you should also use a polarizing filter only when needed. In some high-contrast situations it might be necessary to stack a polarizing filter with a neutral density filter (see below).

4.3) Neutral Density (ND) Filter

Singh-Ray Vari-ND Neutral Density Filter

The purpose of neutral density filters is to reduce the amount of light that gets to the camera and thus decrease the shutter speed and increase exposure time. These types of filters are particularly useful in daytime, because of the abundance of light that cannot be significantly reduced by stopping down the lens aperture and decreasing ISO. For example, if you are photographing a waterfall and your starting point is ISO 100, f/2.8, 1/2000 that results in good exposure, stopping down the lens to f/22 will only slow down the shutter speed to 1/30 of a second. This would be too fast to create a “foggy” look for the falling water. By using an 8 stop neutral density filter, you could slow down the shutter speed all the way to 2 seconds while keeping lens aperture at f/11 instead of f/22 (using apertures beyond f/11-f/16 in normal lenses decreases image quality due to diffraction).

Waterfall captured with an ND filter, 6 second exposure

Neutral density filters are also useful for flash photography. If you were photographing a model at 1/250 of a second at f/2.8 on a bright sunny day with flash to create a dramatic effect, you would most likely end up with an overexposed subject. You cannot increase the shutter speed because flash sync speed limits you to 1/250 max, so your only option is to stop down the lens aperture to a larger number. Let’s say that number is f/11. But then what if you want to isolate your subject from the background and still have nice bokeh? Without using high speed sync, your only option is to use a neutral density filter to reduce the amount of light that makes it to the camera.

Neutral density filters can be both circular and rectangular. There are no benefits to having a rectangular neutral density filter, so it is best to buy a circular ND filter for size and portability benefits.

It is sometimes necessary to stack neutral density filters to decrease the shutter speed even more. Try not to stack ND filters with wide-angle lenses to avoid vignetting.

4.4) Neutral Density (ND) vs Graduated Neutral Density (GND) Filter

Lee Filter Holder

The difference between neutral density and graduated neutral density filters is that the latter is half clear. Because the size of sky versus the foreground can change depending on the composition, most GND filters are made in a rectangular shape. Therefore, these filters must be either used with a filter holder system, or must be held by hand in front of a lens. The advantage of using a filter holder is that you can stack multiple filters and you do not have to worry about alignment issues. The disadvantage of using a filter holder is that it can add vignetting, so you have to be careful when using wide-angle lenses with focal lengths below 35mm.

The image above is Lee’s filter holder that can stack up to four filters at a time. I personally use this filter system for my landscape photography work and I take it with me everywhere I go. When using the filter holder on a full-frame body with my Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8G, I try to use focal lengths of 28mm and above to avoid vignetting. If you mount this filter holder on a polarizing filter, you might end up with vignetting even at 35mm and above.

4.5) Hard-Edge Graduated Neutral Density (GND) Filter

Hard-Edge Graduated Neutral Density Filter

Hard-edge graduated neutral density filters can be very useful in high-contrast situations, where the sky is very bright compared to the foreground and the horizon is flat (due to hard transition from dark to clear). While photographing, the hard edge in the center is aligned with the horizon. The sky is then darkened depending on the intensity of the filter. A two or three stop hard-edge GND filter is often sufficient to balance the shot. Here is a shot taken with a 2 stop hard-edge GND to darken the sky:

Curved River

Note that the horizon is straight and therefore the filter edge and transition are not visible in the image.

The problem with hard-edge GND filters is that the horizon is rarely flat (especially where I live), so soft-edge GND filters are often more useful. Be careful when stacking hard-edge GND filters in high contrast situations – both filters should be properly aligned to avoid nasty transitions.

4.6) Soft-Edge Graduated Neutral Density (GND) Filter

Soft-Edge Graduated Neutral Density Filter

Compared to hard-edge GND filters, soft-edge graduated neutral density filters gradually transition from dark to clear, allowing photographers to use these filters when photographing a non-flat horizon. While mountains, hills and other objects above the horizon can be problematic for hard-edge GND filters, soft-edge GND filters work much better in those situations instead, due to the gradual transition. I use soft-edge GND filters for my landscape photography work a lot and find them more useful than hard-edge GND filters.

Glacier Sunset

Stacking soft-edge GND filters is sometimes necessary in high-contrast and other rare situations.

4.7) Reverse Graduated Neutral Density (GND) Filter

Reverse Neutral Density Filter

Reverse graduated neutral density filters are relatively new. When compared to regular hard/soft-edge GND filters, they are dark at the horizon (hard-edge) and gradually soften towards the top. Reverse GND filters are very useful for sunset shots when you shoot against the sun and it is near the horizon. A common problem with such sunsets, is that the sun is much brighter than the sky. If you use a hard-edge GND filter, the sky might get too dark and if you use a soft-edge GND filter, the sun will be overexposed. The solution is to use a reverse GND filter, which balances the sun and the sky in the frame, resulting in a more balanced exposure.

Sunset over Mountains

Stacking reverse GND filters is sometimes necessary in high-contrast and other rare situations.

4.8) Color/Warming/Cooling Filter

Blue Filter

Color / Warming / Cooling filters are generally used to alter camera white balance. There are two types of color filters – color correction and color subtraction. The former is used for correcting white balance, while the latter is used for absorbing one color while letting other colors through. These filters were quite popular for film, but are rarely used for digital photography, since color effects and white balance changes can be easily accomplished in post-processing software like Lightroom and Photoshop. I personally do not use any color filters. Stacking color filters is also acceptable.

4.9) Close-Up Filter

Canon 500D Close-Up Filter

Close-up filters are generally called close-up lenses, because they are more lenses than filters. They attach to lenses just like filters, which is why I am listing them as filters. Close-up lenses are primarily used for macro photography to be able to get closer to the subject, decreasing minimum focus distance of the lens. Close-up lenses are a cheap way to convert your normal lens to a macro lens, although they do negatively affect image quality. For best results, it is recommended to use a macro lens instead. Stacking close-up filters is acceptable, although image quality is hurt even more.

4.10) Special Effects Filter

B+W Soft Filter

Special effects filters can produce some cool effects, but since most effects can be easily produced in Photoshop, these filters pretty much lost their popularity. Digital photographers rarely carry these filters and I personally do not use them either. The star filter can be easily created in Photoshop through a couple of steps using the “Motion Blur” filter, softening glow can also be easily done through a couple of steps with the “Gaussian Blur” filter and most other filters can also be done in Photoshop. The only filter that cannot be reproduced in Photoshop is a bokeh filter, because the highlights cannot be easily changed through post-processing techniques.

Here is a 2 minute “star effect” that I created in Photoshop using very simple technique with the Motion Blur filter:

Star Effect in Photoshop

5) Filter Material – Glass vs Resin Filters

Filters can be made from glass, plastic, resin, polyester and polycarbonate material. Glass filters are typically of highest quality, but are very expensive and tend to easily break, especially of square or rectangular type. Plastic and resin filters are much cheaper than glass and do not easily break – they are the top choice for graduated neutral density filters. Polyester filters are much thinner than glass or resin and are of very high quality, but are prone to scratches and hence not very practical on the field. Polycarbonate filters are very tough, scratch-resistant and are a good alternative to plastic/resin filters.

6) Step-Up / Step-Down Rings

Because filters can be expensive, it is much cheaper to buy a single standard filter (for example 77mm) and buy step-up rings for lenses that have smaller filter threads. Step-down rings can cause vignetting and other problems, so always try to use step-up rings instead. You can buy step-up rings for both circular and square filter holder systems in various sizes.

Comments

  1. 1
    ) Sunil
    September 13, 2011 at 11:57 pm

    Very nice article. Explains all basics concepts of filters in simple and easy manner.
    What are your views about 4×4 LEE Circular Polarizer?. Is it preferable over the screw-in ones?.

    • September 14, 2011 at 12:55 am

      Sunil, I personally would not get a square CPL, because you cannot effectively use it together with a GND in a filter holder. A screw-on CPL filter on the other hand can be rotated independently from a filter holder, allowing better lens stacking. This would most likely result in Vignetting, but then it is cheaper than other solutions.

  2. 2
    ) Jahongir
    September 14, 2011 at 12:17 am

    Hi Nasim aka, very helpful and interesting topic.

    I have a question about polarizing filters, you mentioned that it’s not recommended to use them on ultra-wide lenses. I usually shoot landscape on 16mm f/2.8 with a UV filter. I saw that images look more beautiful with blue sky if you use polarizing filters, but won’t I have that partially dark sky effect if I use them with 16mm?

    • September 14, 2011 at 12:40 am

      Jahongir, you most likely will at 16mm. If you like to shoot ultra wide, I would avoid using a polarizing filter.

    • 90
      ) Doug Williams
      July 11, 2014 at 11:02 am

      The polarizing filter is great with the outdoors. I use it regularly. I’ve had the vignetting issue before, but have solved the issue with an over-sized filter fitted with a step up ring. Currently, I’m shooting with a Canon 10-18mm ultra-wide that (normally) takes a 67mm filter. I fitted it with a 77mm circular polarizer without issue.

      • 91
        ) Doug Williams
        July 11, 2014 at 11:03 am

        Very informative article. Thank you.

  3. 5
    ) Francois Malan
    September 14, 2011 at 2:29 am

    Relevant article and beautifully illustrated (as always!)

    However I have a reservation… You omit a big issue with a polarizing filter: light loss. A friend of mine keeps a polarizing filter permanently mounted on her Canon G11. She routinely photographs food for her blog (often indoors). She knows that a polariser might reduce reflections and increase contrast, and that a filter protects the lens. All true, but I would strongly dissuade her to use this filter the way she does due to the massive resulting light loss (often up to 2 stops I believe). For the same reason I think it is a bad choice for most available-light photography except outdoors in daylight.

    • September 14, 2011 at 11:05 am

      Oops, I don’t know how I missed that :) I guess I was just too tired yesterday. Thank you for letting me know – I fixed the article!

      It is definitely not a good idea to permanently keep a polarizing filter in front of a lens.

  4. 6
    ) Alan Roberts
    September 14, 2011 at 2:30 am

    Another great article, thank you so much for the time you put in to this site. One quick query about graduated ND filters, I have heard that cropped sensor DSLR users should use hard grads rather than soft ones due to the smaller sensor size. Is this something you would agree with?

    Thanks again

    Alan

    • September 14, 2011 at 11:09 am

      Alan, I would disagree with that statement – hard grads abruptly transition even on cropped sensors. Try shooting a scene with a non-flat horizon on a DX sensor and see how dark the transition will be. Obviously the darkness will depend on the intensity of a GND filter. If you use a 0.3 (1 stop) GND filter, you will probably not see much difference. However, if you use a 0.9 (3 stop) GND filter, you will certainly see a huge difference! I personally stay away from 1 stop GND filters – I use either 2 or 3 stop GND filters for my work.

      • 20
        ) Alan Roberts
        September 15, 2011 at 2:45 am

        Wow, thanks Nasim. This is quite different to the FAQ on the Lee site which recommends hard filters for DX sensors. Apparently the hard filters transition over 5mm which is about 1/3 of the height of my sensor (in landscape orientation). In contrast the Lee site states that the soft filters typically transition over 15mm (i.e. the full height of my sensor). It would be nice to have access to some to play with as it is a difficult (and costly) decision without, made especially hard by the 20 week lead time on orders in the UK at the moment! Do you use the filters on DX sensors or exclusively full frame ones?

        Thanks again for the great site

        Alan

        • September 15, 2011 at 11:05 am

          Alan, that’s true for the large 4×6 Lee filters used for FX and film – smaller Cokin GND filters have a much smaller transition that is perfectly suitable for DX sensors. It would be a waste of money to use 4×6 filters for DX sensors, unless you shoot with focal lengths of 17mm and below (in which case I would get a hard GND just like Lee recommends). I typically suggest buying a Cokin filter system instead of Lee for DX sensors for this reason, because it is much cheaper and much more suitable for landscape work.

          Hope this makes sense.

          • 25
            ) Alan Roberts
            September 15, 2011 at 1:47 pm

            Perfectly, thanks Nasim. I was plugging for the larger Lee filters as I hope to update to a FX camera one day (and would like the option for wide lenses with my current setup).

            • September 16, 2011 at 12:03 am

              You are most welcome! In that case you might want to get started with a hard GND and then eventually get a soft GND once you switch to FX.

  5. 7
    ) Ryano Tandayu
    September 14, 2011 at 4:53 am

    Hi Nasim…

    I found this site when Google searching “nikon 24-70mm review”.

    I want to say Thankyou for a beautiful and informative site. I have learned a lot by reading the articles in this site. You have a talent in explaining technical things in simple terms.

    English is not my first languange, but I can easily understand your articles.

    Thankyou. Keep up the good work.

    Ryano Tandayu
    Jakarta, Indonesia.

  6. 8
    ) Marc
    September 14, 2011 at 6:02 am

    Dear Nasim,

    with great interest have I read about your comments on the “Reverse graduated neutral density filters”.

    Do you know which manufacturer produces them?

    Best regards

    Marc

    • 9
      ) Alan Roberts
      September 14, 2011 at 7:50 am

      I think Singh-Ray make these (www.singh-ray.com). Not sure of any other manufacturers.

      Alan

    • September 14, 2011 at 11:23 am

      Mark, there are at least three manufacturers that make these reverse GND filters – Singh-Ray is the most popular one, Hitech and Formatt also make them in various shapes and forms. As of now, B&H only lists the 4×5 Hitech Reverse GND as “in stock” – the rest do not seem to be available due to high demand.

  7. September 14, 2011 at 8:18 am

    Since going digital, the only filters I use today are circular polarizers, and very seldom a clear filter when I’m shooting in a risky environment like salt water spray or 2yr olds eating cupcakes. :-) You just can’t create the effect of circular polarizers on leaves, water, clouds, or sky in post. Graduated filters (color or ND) I do all in post now since HDR gives me a lot more freedom for dark/bright spots of an image. I’ve been attempting multiple exposures in my D700 to mimic the effect of a long exposure with a solid ND filter. Jury is still out on that experiment. Great article!

    • September 14, 2011 at 11:31 am

      Aaron, I agree that you cannot replicate what CPLs do in post-processing. However, for those who do not want to do any HDR (I personally avoid HDR for my landscape work), a GND filter is a must-have. One thing I forgot to show in the above article, is how a GND filter can actually enhance post-processing and help recover even more data from RAW files. I will definitely add it to the article to show that you cannot simply use a GND filter inside Lightroom to do what a real GND does. Also, doing everything in post-processing sounds like a lot of work for me. Simulating a long exposure through multiple exposures does not work in many cases. Try shooting a close waterfall and you will see what I mean :)

      • September 3, 2013 at 2:09 pm

        I’m not getting notifications of all replies I don’t think, but I just noticed this one today. I had some success with multiple exposures to simulate a much longer one. It sort of works. It has a different look, sometimes it is as good as a real ND filter, and other times it is not. If you can’t get to at least a 15 second exposure to begin with, then stacking something like 10x 1 second exposures isn’t going to cut it. You’ll need a good ND filter then. But stacking 10x 30 second exposures is really pretty good! I have a B+W 10 stop ND filter that I use on my 24-70mm and 70-200mm, but it won’t fit on the 14-24mm of course where I’ve been playing around with multiple long exposures in camera. I did find a filter set that is much cheaper than Lee Filters, but I haven’t bought it yet and I’m unsure of the quality. They don’t have anything like the 10 stop Lee Big Stopper. http://fotodioxpro.com/index.php/camera-photo-accessories.html?cat=26

        • 82
          ) Shane Arrold
          October 16, 2013 at 9:44 pm

          Aaron, I purchased the Wonderpana Ultra kit which I note is not listed on the Fotodiox website anymore for some reason. The ultra kit contained 4,8,16 & 32NDs plus .6 & .9 hard and soft grad filters, a CPL and of course the kit.

          It is of excellent build quality – and the filters are excellent. No colour casts. I highly recommend the kit and couldn’t be more impressed. Obviously its a big and bulky piece of kit when mounted – but it certainly does the job. There is some vignetting when stacking 2 ND filters up until around 16mm…

          The only regret I have is that they do not yet have a “big stopper”. I’ve asked several times but never any reply.

          • October 17, 2013 at 7:43 am

            Yeah, I’d LOVE a 10 stopper to use at 14mm with hopefully little vignetting. I’m not surprised you have to zoom in a bit with two filters. Glad you like the kit and find the quality good!

      • September 3, 2013 at 2:20 pm

        It would seem from many of the comments here that many people are going HDR instead of grad filters these days. It certainly works for me. Not saying there is no use for a GND, but it’s just easier and you have more options in post with HDR. Of course, that necessitates good HDR workflow and software, something like SNS HDR or Oloneo if you want natural looking landscapes. I don’t think Photomatix Pro cuts it for that. Lately I’ve been using their Merge to 32-bit TIFF plugin for Lightroom though and that is fantastic! You must give it a try! You get a lot more dynamic range for editing in Lightroom without the noise and halos of HDR software. You also maintain Photmatix’s excellent alignment and deghosting processing for handheld shooting. Sadly it does not support any batching yet, so panoramas and timelapses are a pain. I tend to leave everything pretty flat in the RAW files in Lightroom before merging, only choosing things like dust removal, camera profile (usually Nikon’s Camera Neutral for very low contrast), custom white balance, and lens corrections. All of the rest of the editing I do on the 32-bit TIFF file.

  8. 11
    ) SAJID SHEIKH
    September 14, 2011 at 9:48 am

    Very well explained, I am waiting for it from long time….thanks Nasim..

  9. 18
    ) Peter
    September 14, 2011 at 5:58 pm

    Nice overview and good to have all this info in one place.
    I decided to print it for later study and highlighting.

  10. September 15, 2011 at 1:10 am

    Nasim,

    Nice article. What do you think about variable neutral density filters?

    — Dave

    • October 17, 2011 at 6:42 pm

      Dave, those work great, but they are not cheap :)

  11. 21
    ) Lilantha
    September 15, 2011 at 4:21 am

    Very well explained. Nasim thank you very much, I was waiting for this type of document for a long time. I understood lot of things. Thank you very much again. I bless every thing of your works would happened to your wish.
    -Lilantha from Sri Lanka.

  12. 22
    ) Peter
    September 15, 2011 at 7:34 am

    I finished reading a hard copy of your article and will keep it as a reference. Well done; no wasted words.

    One thing I discovered doing landscape , when you can take HDR images it seems to eliminate the need for GND filters and sometimes polarizers. I tried shooting HDR with GND filters and that did not prove to be satisfactory…like mixing two brands of beer!

    One of these days I will probably shoot the same scene using a GND, polarizer, and HDR and make a direct comparison. I wonder if this has been done before?

    • October 17, 2011 at 6:41 pm

      Peter, thank you for your feedback. In my opinion, images taken with a GND look much better and more realistic than HDR. While there are many different ways to process HDR and you could even combine HDR with image blending, I still like to work with a single image that is more or less balanced in terms of exposure…

      I believe I have plenty of examples of using a GND vs HDR in my Lightroom catalog. Just need to find those and write an article on differences :)

  13. 23
    ) Gary
    September 15, 2011 at 8:46 am

    Hi Nasim,

    Good article,

    I understand the need for polarizing filters, water reflections, colour saturation etc.. but (in my opinion) with digital you don’t need ND grads.

    If shooting with a tripod, why not bracket x 3 , i.e, stop-under, metered, stop over, and then blend in Photoshop? I have a Lee filter kit and they do make images a bit soft, just my opinion though.

    Gary

    • October 17, 2011 at 6:37 pm

      Gary, I have been using Lee filters for my landscape photography and they certainly do not make my images soft. Perhaps you need to clean yours?

      I disagree with you, because I believe ND grads are much easier to work with than blending in post-processing. Blending images does not always work well and look good, especially when there is movement or objects like trees in the scene.

      • 42
        ) Gary
        October 25, 2011 at 11:08 am

        Hi Nasim,

        My filters are clean..(ish) I just think they can make things look a bit muddy, perhaps I’m spending to much time looking at 100% !,

        I may get them out again and give it another go.

        Gary

        • October 26, 2011 at 12:34 am

          Gary, perhaps, but I shoot with filters all the time and look at my images at 100% on my PC and I do not see any problems…

  14. 27
    ) Dennis
    October 2, 2011 at 1:06 am

    Hi Nasim,

    I am thinking if there are reasons to try Lee filters kit for landscape, or I should just stick with normal circular filters. What are those reasons to switch in your opinion?

    Dennis

    • October 17, 2011 at 6:32 pm

      Dennis, Lee filters are used primarily for graduated ND filters. If your purpose is to be able to decrease the exposure of the sky or the foreground, then yes, Lee makes excellent filters for that purpose. If you do not need to use a graduated ND, then circular filters are easiest to work with.

      • 41
        ) Dennis
        October 18, 2011 at 9:07 pm

        Nasim, thanks for your respond. I got the LEE filters just recently with soft ND grad set. I am not sure if I require hard ND grad, however considering the 2 and 3 stop. Haven’t got the time to head out for test. I am already thinking of expanding the holder with a 105 adaptor for polarizer, maybe B+W 105. Have you try it out with the holder couple with the 105 polarizer?

        I consider myself still new when it comes to landscape photography.

  15. 28
    ) Jennifer
    October 7, 2011 at 10:44 am

    Hi,

    I’d like to ask, what are skylight filters for? Is it better than UV filters? :)

    • October 17, 2011 at 6:30 pm

      Jennifer, skylight filters are the same as UV filters, except they are slightly pink in color to enhance the blue sky. I would not buy UV or Skylight filters for the purpose of filtering out UV, because modern sensors already have UV protection. A clear/haze/UV filter simply protects your lens.

  16. October 10, 2011 at 9:57 pm

    Hi Nasim,

    I have bookmarked your blog site, for my repeated visits to read your analysis and comments;
    I have one query regarding the ND filters (normally termed as long stoppers), there are another sets of filters available known as FADER Filters, which offer variable ND2 to ND 10 and above in a single combiation filter.
    My query is for DSLR photography , which one you suggest- FILTER ND-8 or FADER filter with variable NDs ?
    Thanks / kuldeep

    • October 17, 2011 at 6:26 pm

      Kuldeep, are you talking about variable ND filters, like the Vari-ND from Singh-Ray? If you can afford one, then go ahead. If budget is an issue, then a regular ND filter works great.

      • October 17, 2011 at 8:21 pm

        Thanks Nasim,
        Some chinese made Vari ND filters are available, ranging from $50 to $100, whereas regular ND filters are ranging between $25 to $60. Actually Vari ND filters are a combination of Two polarising filters (linear polariser over Circular polariser), I was wondering if the Photos taken using Regular ND vs Vari ND will be with some Varing color outcomes !!

  17. 30
    ) Mike Heller
    October 17, 2011 at 6:00 pm

    Hello Nasim, love your site. One comment about this article and polarizing filters “Filters unpolarized light”. I think in fact they filter POLARIZED light.

    • October 17, 2011 at 6:24 pm

      Mike, you are right – it filters out linearly polarized light. I fixed the article, thanks for catching that! :)

  18. 39
    ) Chit Min Maung
    October 17, 2011 at 7:25 pm

    Thanks, now I understand about filters. Actually I don’t understand about ND & GND and how to choose Hard GND, Soft and reversed? Now I cleared. Thanks a lot.

  19. 44
    ) Bekzod
    October 27, 2011 at 12:50 pm

    Насим ака спасибо вам большое очень много чего узнал про фильтры и вообще ваш сайт супер :))

    • October 28, 2011 at 2:02 pm

      Бекзод, рад что сайт вам понравился :) Заходите почаще!

      • 57
        ) rinawm tonsing
        July 19, 2012 at 7:16 am

        Nice article Nasim Sir… i gain a lot of knowledge from this article…
        but i have some question here… i have 550d and i used to shoot photo and vdo both outdoor & Indoor… and this is the problem i always face… the sky’s are always over expose when i fine my subject are in good position… even when i shot indoor… the windows sky are always over expose both in vdo and photography i get the same result i,e Sky Over expose…
        so, which filter should i used to get the clean,clear sky’s along with the subject? pls suggest me to get a better output for video and photo..?
        ND filter or CPL or GND etc??

  20. 47
    ) Kenneth Black
    December 16, 2011 at 2:08 am

    I want to first say you have an excellent web site. I noticed you left out a very important point when using polarizers. The point is that one should be very careful about using polarizers when photographing sunsets. I know some landscape photographers make the argument that a polarizer should never be used when photographing sunsets. I personally, in my work, I have seen undesirable banding of colors when using a polarizer in this situation. I no longer use polarizers in this situation. I know this statement might sound obvious, but I have made this mistake and I know others have made this mistake, thinking a polarizer will help in sunsets.

  21. January 23, 2012 at 7:56 am

    Hi Nasim,
    What are your views on the Hoya x400 ND filter? im kinda confused which one to buy x4/x8/x400. Kindly advice.

  22. 49
    ) Michael
    February 26, 2012 at 6:14 am

    Hi Nasim,
    I use the older style 77mm Nikon Circular Polariser which is thicker and has an 85mm front thread to help avoid vignetting.

    I need to use a ND filter as well as the polariser to slow down the shutter speed.

    Would it be better to mount the ND filter behind the Polariser on the 77mm thread or in front of it utilising the larger 85mm thread?

    Regards
    Michael

  23. 50
    ) Crystal
    February 29, 2012 at 9:43 am

    What filter system could you use or would suggest using on the nikon 14-24. I also have the 70-200 and the 85 and planning on getting the 14-24 and 24-70, what would you suggest as far as a filter system that might work out for all of my lenses? Thank you! Oh and Im shooting with the D700.

  24. 51
    ) DavidL
    March 18, 2012 at 5:13 pm

    Hi Nasim,

    I am thinking about purchasing a Singh Ray Vari Neutral Density filter, but can’t decide whether to buy the VariND or the VariND Duo.

    Am I better to have the built in polariser or screw a polariser on when I need it?
    Do you use a polariser on your Neutral Density filter(s)?

    Kind Regards,

    DL.

  25. 52
    ) hitesh
    April 7, 2012 at 9:48 am

    Hello Nasim,

    I have purchased a nikon d7000 along with 18-200mm vr 2 lens but can you please let me know the whether it is good to go for a hoya 72mm HMC UV-0 ?

    Thank you.

  26. May 10, 2012 at 10:29 pm

    Hi Nasim ….
    I guess I should have read your filter article first … but I just ordered the $69 Nikon clear NC glass 77mm and 58mm filters … are these as good as the B&W ones you like here in your article? …. guess I could call in the morning and switch to the B&W? …Only $10 more …..Also our local camera shop guru is pushing the Promaster HGX UV filters … expensive but I now see on the web they are probably made by HOYA? … I already have one of those promasters on my 58mm AF-S 1:1.4G lens …. was $65 …figured Nikon glass on a Nikon lens would be better and just ordered that one.
    Doc Hemp

  27. 54
    ) jaziey
    May 16, 2012 at 7:12 pm

    Great article on lens filters- I have a question about B&W contrast filters. I am using a Hasselblad V series film camera with no meter. If I use a yellow filter with 1.3x factor, do I add the stop to my aperture OR shutter speed, or use reciprocity to increase the overall exposure by the 1.3x factor?

    I have used a handheld meter ( or an iphone app meter) for my camera then add the factor to my camera by minipulating the factor to the aperature not the shutter and I could not distinguish between the clouds and the sky in my photo.

    Jaziey

  28. 55
    ) rinawm
    June 29, 2012 at 2:46 am

    Nice article Nasim Sir… i gain a lot of knowledge from this article…
    but i have some question here… i have 550d and i used to shoot photo and vdo both outdoor & Indoor… and this is the problem i always face… the sky’s are always over expose when i fine my subject are in good position… even when i shot indoor… the windows sky are always over expose both in vdo and photography i get the same result i,e Sky Over expose…
    so, which filter should i used to get the clean,clear sky’s along with the subject? pls suggest me to get a better output for video and photo..?
    ND filter or CPL or GND etc??

  29. 56
    ) Jack Bunn
    July 19, 2012 at 7:09 am

    Thanks. A very concise artical on filters that even an Englishman can understand. It has put to bed a few issues I had and helped me decide which direction to go with my choise of filters. Regards Jack.

  30. 58
    ) Paulo Gallate
    August 6, 2012 at 7:02 am

    Nasim,

    Thank you so much for your explanation. It was very used for me. I am not a professional photographer but I love photograph. I have a Canon 60D with a ultrasonic lens 28x300mm. I am wondering to buy a filter to my next trip. I will photograph based cities, building, monuments during the day and night.
    One of my itinerary includes a visit to Lake Como, which I will have city and mountain on the background. Which filter do you recommend me to buy? Is it correct to say I should use a polarized filter outdoor and do not use it indoor?

    Thanks in advance for your help.

  31. 59
    ) Tony Almeida
    October 2, 2012 at 11:59 am

    I need to buy B+w nd filter for nikon 50mm 1.8g, What is the exact size or how do i choose the sizes of nd filters for nikon fx lens?

  32. 60
    ) Saurabh
    October 17, 2012 at 7:06 am

    Hello Nasim,

    I have been following your website for quite some time now and I must say my interest in photography has grown in multifolds!! The illustrations and explainations are so simple and easy to understand, the best part is I have found almost every essential aspect of photography at one place which makes life extremely easy :) for budding photographers like me.

    By the way, I have a suggestion on this post. It would be nice if you could share apple to apple comparison between photographs taken with and without filters. I feel the effect of filters can be further realised visually as in to help understand what actually a particular kind of filter does to a photograph.

    Again, you are really doing a great job by this initiative, thank you very much!

    Sincerely,
    Saurabh

  33. 61
    ) Stephenson
    December 5, 2012 at 12:44 am

    Hi Nasim,

    So if I have a wide lens (Tokina 11 – 16mm), I can’t use a polarizing filter?

  34. December 6, 2012 at 7:27 am

    An open question for anyone:

    In Florida, the heat haze is sometimes quite brutal. Which filter type is best for reducing/eliminating this? Note, I shoot mostly outdoor sports, not landscapes.

    In looking at filters, I noticed that most UV filters also mention Haze. Tiffen filters are available in various Haze levels, or is that just marketing BS on their part?

    Thanks,
    WEJ

    • 70
      ) Mark
      August 29, 2013 at 7:41 am

      There is very little difference between a UV filter and a Skylight 1A filter. Generically I think they are both referred to as haze filters by some. They will both eliminate bluish haze especially when shooting over a long distance. I believe the UV filters have a very slightly greater warming effect than 1A, but the difference is miniscule.

      Mark

  35. 63
    ) Julius
    January 15, 2013 at 2:31 am

    Hi Nasim,

    Is there any UV filter that is good enough, so that during night phogography I don’t need to remove it?

  36. 64
    ) Gene
    April 26, 2013 at 7:30 pm

    Question: I’m not a pro — just love the hobby. I’ve read that most good post procession software can do just about anything a filter can do. Should I invest in one of the filter systems like Lee or Cokin? Lee is kind of expensive for me, but I could afford the Cokin P-series. Just not really sure I need to. Currently I don’t use any filters at all.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
    -gene

  37. 65
    ) Juarez
    June 6, 2013 at 7:37 pm

    Is there any way to mount a round filter to a cokin-type filter holder?

  38. 66
    ) Camille
    June 13, 2013 at 8:55 am

    This is really informative and easy to understand. THANKS SO MUCH!!!

  39. 67
    ) Divi
    July 23, 2013 at 11:14 am

    Thank you for writing this excellent article. I read it for clarification as to the use and purpose of UV lenses and, though I am not going to make a direct verbatim quote from your page I will note the use of this resource in my article. Please inform me as to how you prefer your page information to be used in citations. Again, thank you.

  40. 68
    ) Bill
    July 23, 2013 at 4:30 pm

    Hi Nasim,

    love your articles and learned a lot. you mentioned to avoid polarizer filter on UWA lens. what about slim one? or you suggest not use it at all for those lenses? Thanks a lot.

    • September 3, 2013 at 12:50 pm

      Bill, slim polarizing filters can work great on UWA lenses. However, their biggest issue is the fact that you can no longer use the lens cap!

  41. 69
    ) Mark
    August 29, 2013 at 7:37 am

    Wow, this subject really accentuates the difference that digital photography has made to the art of photography. We used to have filters to compensate for different types of lighting (flourescent, incandescent, etc.). Now we have a white balance adjustment to take care of that. ND filters used to be more essential than they are today because you were stuck with the ISO value of the film in your camera. Now you can compensate by changing ISO instead of using an ND to throttle the light. Then there was the entire range of filters used with black and white film, generally to make gray scale rendering look more natural in B&W. Do photographers today know that red renders much darker than green on black and white film?
    Things sure have changed!

  42. 71
    ) Anne-Marie
    September 1, 2013 at 3:41 pm

    Nasim,
    Love the article.
    Is there a way of using the Lee soft ND grad filter in holder without taking the B+W uv filter off my lens? I hate the fact that my lens is exposed when using it, and it is very annoying that you have to pull everything off to put the lens away in my camera backpack.
    Any solutions?

    • 72
      ) Michael
      September 2, 2013 at 2:13 am

      Anne-Maria,

      There is no physical problem with simply screwing in your grad holder with your UV filter in place.
      Depending on your lens you might get a little vignetting.
      This would normally only affect wide angle lenses, Lee make a wide angle lens adaptor ring which allows your ND filter holder to sit nearer your lens.
      Best shoot wide open then check for any vignetting before spending money.

      Michael

  43. 73
    ) Tofel
    September 2, 2013 at 12:02 pm

    Very new to this and I find it very informative………..I have studied about ND filter and CC filter

  44. 74
    ) Glemel
    September 3, 2013 at 12:25 pm

    Hello Nasim . I have been using the LEE filter system for almost 6 months now and satisfied with my soft GNDs . I am thinking of expanding the holder with a 105 adaptor for polarizer and would procure either the LEE 105 CPL or the B+W 105. Need to buy one to reduce reflections in my shots.Have you try it out with these 105 polarizer and please share results for my info? Issues about vignetting? Need to know before deciding on these expensive items.. Thanks and very nice and informative articles..Cheers!

    • September 3, 2013 at 12:48 pm

      Glemel, there are some issues to consider before you decide to purchase the 105mm CPL. First, you do not want to mount it on a full foundation kit with three slots – make sure to remove at least 1 of them. Second, whether you like it or not, the CPL will cause additional vignetting on wide angle lenses. So it is absolutely critical that you buy the wide angle lens adapter and use the CPL as close to the lens as possible. In addition, if you do not end up using any filters in between, you might see reflection problems as well. What I typically do, is mount a polarizing filter on my lens, then hand-hold a filter in front of the lens. This may not work if you use live view a lot, but it not an issue for me 90% of the time. If I have plenty of time, I sometimes mount the LEE foundation kit on top of my polarizing filter, then rotate the setup to the appropriate angle for maximum polarization, then drop filters. Just be careful with doing this, since your adapter ring might get stuck on the polarizer and you will probably see more vignetting problems…

      Hope this helps :)

  45. 79
    ) Glemel
    September 4, 2013 at 8:57 pm

    Thank you very much Nasim for the info shared and it was very informative in a sense. The issues you raised are well understood and very well explained. I am using a canon 10-22mm ultrawide angle lens and have read that using a polarizer will get weird effects on any ultra-wide lens due to unevenness of the sky. I am new to landscape photography and love it since then . Iam for sure will need a polarizer in my bag to cut out those reflections . Kindly share with me info as to what several good screw-in type polarizers to choose from considering I have a UWA lens and also am looking for a not so costly ones.. Thanks!

  46. 80
    ) Kean Low
    September 4, 2013 at 10:14 pm

    Hello Nasim,

    Thank you for these useful article of yours ‘Lens Filter Explained’. I read thru your article when i am in a confuse states which type of Filters are good for my work. At last i understand and decided which are good for my photography. Very Useful.

    Thank You,
    Kean Low (Singapore)

  47. 81
    ) Mike
    October 10, 2013 at 11:21 pm

    This was very helpful Sir, especially for newbies like me.

    Thank you very much!

  48. 84
    ) Ricardo Vaz
    October 31, 2013 at 11:09 am

    Hey Nassim, it’s me again, reading your posts all over again! I’m looking for a good filter system to use with a D610 + 18-35mm and I’m deciding wich one to get, the Cokin Z-Pro or the Lee. My main concern with the holder is vigneting issues and possibility to use screw in CPL.

    After reading some of your posts I found that you use Lee System instead of the Cokin Z-pro, could you share what made you choose the Lee Holder?

    Another thing, I’m thinking in getting a good ND, a good GND and a good Polarizer but good brands like Singhray and Lee charges a hell lot of money for a piece of good plastic, so I’m thinking in get one of the Lee GND 4×6 filters instead of the kit with 3. So my question is: What GND do you use most of the times, 1-stop, 2-stop or 3-stop?
    For a square solid ND (4×4), wich one you use most? 5-stops, 10-stops, less? Do you use Lee? I´ve read that hitech ND are not even close to neutral, introducing a lot of color cast.

    • 85
      ) Ricardo Vaz
      October 31, 2013 at 11:30 am

      I found one of the answers in another post, you said that you use mostly the 3-stop GND, hehe

  49. 86
    ) Kailash Tadkase
    November 26, 2013 at 11:04 pm

    Dear Nasim,
    This was the most exhaustive post on Lens Filters ever. Very informative and the examples given made it a very interesting read. I am just a beginner and found this as very informative. Thank you very much

    Warm Regards
    Kailash

  50. 87
    ) VIVEK SHARMA
    April 3, 2014 at 1:16 am

    Dear Nasim,
    Thanks for such an informative article about filters and their careful use. I own a bridge camera (NIKON COOLPIX P510) and was wondering if I would ever be able to use any kind of external filter with this camera. Lens doesn’t have ant thread to mount any filter and even on Nikon website, there is no info about usning filter with this camera model. I am facing lot of problems of Haze, glare while shooting in daylight.
    Please help me about any option of using filter with this camera.
    Thanks & Regards,
    Vivek Sharma

  51. 88
    ) Keith R. Starkey
    June 1, 2014 at 4:30 pm

    See, that’s the problem with Nasim’s articles: he just never gives you much information or any good information…HA!

    Just kidding, Nasim. Thanks so much for your work. you can’t imagine how much many of us have learned from this site alone.

  52. 89
    ) Lisa M.
    July 1, 2014 at 4:08 pm

    Very helpful article. I was contemplating buying Lee GND filters for my Nikon 14-24mm lens for a trip to Scotland, recommended by a photography I will be working with there. Then was told (by someone else) in no uncertain terms that it is completely unnecessary for contemporary digital methods and cameras (I have a Nikon D800), it’s a complete waste of money, and that I can use a tripod, bracket exposures, and then use Lightroom and Photoshop to combine exposures. I suppose so, but which is the way to go. A philosophical question I guess, but don’t we really want to start post-processing with the best in-camera image possible? The filter holder, adaptor, and filter set are a lot of money…is it worth it?

    • 93
      ) Shane Arrold
      July 29, 2014 at 11:04 pm

      Hello Lisa,

      I have the 14-24mm too and LOVE it to bits. I got the fotodiox wonderpana kit and its wonderful and cheaper than the Lee kit. I actually have the 24-70mm too and I have the Lee kit for that and both products are comparable in terms of quality. The fotodiox filters do not colour cast which is extremely important obviously. They have a full range of filters including the only 10stop filter you can buy for the 14-24mm. So you can save a little bit of money with this option without losing any quality.

      I also bracket shots and blend using luminosity masks! For me it just depends on the scene and what obstacles I need to overcome to get a good exposure. If I can get it “in camera” using filters then I’ll try to do that but I’m more than happy bracketing & blending too. It just depends if you have more time in the field to fiddle about – or if your fiddling is done on the pc. Photography is quite often about problem solving and I personally like having both options in my toolbox!

      Lastly and most critically there are some things you just CANNOT do in post – if you want a CPL on the 14-24mm then you need a filter kit. If you want to do long exposures to smooth water or blur clouds then you’re options are limited unless you have filters to assist creating longer exposure times…

  53. 92
    ) Philippe P.
    July 29, 2014 at 3:34 pm

    Very interesting article ! Thank you !
    What brand do you recommend for ND Filters ? Are the Tiffen any good ? Please note that I am on a budget..

  54. Profile photo of Frank Lynch
    94
    ) Frank Lynch
    July 29, 2014 at 11:57 pm

    I just purchased a new medium range zoom lens with 72mm filter threads. I need to put a clear filter on it to protect the front element. I could either purchase a 72mm filter or use a step up ring with a 77mm filter. Vignetting and cost aside, does the distance of the filter from the front element even matter optically. I ask because the difference in circumference is only 5mm. The step up ring increases the distance between the two. Optically does this distance matter with flare or ghosting?

  55. 95
    ) Jyoti Sarkar
    August 20, 2014 at 9:44 am

    Very well written and well explained. Thanks for posting this article – it helped me immensely.

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