There are many different varieties of filters for your camera, from UV filter’s to ND Grad filters and it can be a bit of a minefield deciding what you need for which scenario. below i will attempt to give a fairly comprehensive list of the filters that i have knowledge of and in what situation they may be of use to you.
lets look at the kinds of filters there are.
- Ultraviolet/ clear /haze now these serve a couple for different purposes depending on the format you are using. if you a film user shooting where there is UV rays it will protect your film from harmful UV light and also on digital protect the front element of your lens.
- Polarising filter – these are primarily used to reduce reflections or lower the highlights in certain areas such as glare in the image. also enhances colours and increases contrast
- neutral density filter (ND) – this is basically a way of stopping the amount of light coming into the camera this can be helpful if you want to increase the shutter speed on a tripod to get those silky smooth water movement shots or really smooth looking cloud images.
- Hard edge graduated neutral density filter (GND) – these are primarily used for landscape photography where you have a really bright sky and underexposed foreground you can then decrease the amount of light from the sky and even out the exposure works really well with a tripod
- colour filters – these have slowly become less and less used in the photographic world as photoshop makes colour correction very simple however is still very good to use for film using a red filter on a 35mm camera increases contrast in the image
- special filters or homemade filter – filters such as star filters or depth of field filters give a really specific self explanitory purpose but there is nothing stopping you from creating your own filters for instance a pair of tights preferably nude stretched over the end of the lens give you a really dreamy almost ethereal look to the image. you can also use vaseline on the uv filter in a specific area to remove clarity from an area of the image ( for all the star wars geeks out there this was actually used by George Lucas and his team to achieve the floating land speeder by fudging the lens with grease)
- close up filters – these are macro adaptors that basically work very much like a magnifying glass for your camera they allow you to get very close to things to achieve beautiful macro photographs they usually come in a set of four and they allow stacking however you have to be careful of stacking filters as you will get vignetting around the edges which will need to be removed in post processing.