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Buyer's Guide: Filters For Your Lenses

You may have heard of people using filters on their lenses, but there are so many and it can be very confusing when it comes to which one to choose. This is our buyer's guide to help you find the right filter.


Filters are used to alter how your final image looks when photographing, for example, they can lower your exposure, change the contrast of colours, or add extra shapes and effects to your images.

Olympus Trip 35mm camera with the effect of a soft focus spot filter

How do I know which size of filter I need?


Each filter has a diameter that should match the diameter of filter ring that is on your lens. Lenses have a screw thread on the front element of the lens that allows filters to be screwed onto them.


Some camera lenses show the diameter of the lens filter ring on the front of the lens. Your focal length is shown as "50mm" or "35mm", but the lens diameter will be shown with this symbol "ø" in front of it.


If your lens doesn't have the diameter shown, a quick Google will tell you your lens filter diameter, or you can get in touch with us and we will let you know which size you will need. Now you have this information, you can look for filters that match your lens diameter.


If you can't find any filters that match your lens diameter, it is possible to get step-up or step-down rings that change the diameter of your lens. For example, you may have a 49mm lens diameter and a 52mm filter. In this case, you would get a 49 to 52mm step-up ring that attaches under your filter.

Rainbow filter shown on an image of the Fujica Mini camera.

What are the different filters and what do they do?


UV Filters

These don't have much effect on your images, but they do protect your lens from getting damaged. I have dropped a lens before and the filter smashed, but the lens was intact and saved by the filter's ring. (Phew!) It also prevents dust and scratches from getting on the actual glass of your lens, which is much more valuable and harder to replace than a lens filter.

Skylight Filters

This filter is similar to UV filters and have a very minor effect on your images. They are intended to filter the blue tones of the light coming into your lens and lightly warm up your images. This makes them great for taking photographs with lots of sky, or taking photographs in blue hour and the depths of winter.


Some of these filters have collapsible lens hoods attached for when you are taking photographs in bright sunlight and want to avoid direct light onto the front glass of your lens.

Coloured Filters

This is where things get a little bit complicated. Each colour filter has a different effect on the colours and contrasts in your images. These are used for black and white photography, although using them on colour photography would create some interesting effects!


Polarising Filters

This filter is generally used for landscape photography. They lower your exposure over the entire image or over part of the image. This is useful to make the sky darker so that you can see the details of the clouds, for example.


Another example would be if your fastest shutter speed and lowest aperture were not enough to make the image dark enough to see all of the details.

Diffusion Filters

Film is all about that lovely soft light on your photographs and if this is an effect you really love, these filters are ideal for you. They diffuse the light across your lens and soften it to make your images that little bit more gentle.


These are also sometimes referred to as soft focus filters. Some of them have one specific spot that is soft and the rest is ordinary, which can create an interesting effect and is good for portraits if you don't want any effect on a person's face.

Starburst Filters

Any direct light source will become a star shape in your photograph! These are great for night time photography. Each one can create stars with a different number of points, for example a star with four points or a star with eight points.

Rainbow Filters

Hello experimental photographers! These filters will create rainbows from the light being reflected in your photographs. This effect can be really hard to create in editing so having it straight out of your camera is ideal. These are perfect for concert photographers and people wanting to stand out and try something different.

Prism and Multi-vision Filters

These are my favourite filters to use and I have used them a lot for concert and portrait photography! They create a prism effect that reflects part of your image onto a different area. They also refract the light and have a similar effect to fractal prisms.

Summary

All filters are great for protecting the glass of your lens. UV and skylight filters are the best for this as they have little effect on your images.

You can get filters that create experimental effects on your images, like the rainbow, starburst, and prism filters.

Coloured filters and polarising filters have an effect on how your image will appear by changing the contrast or exposure of your images.

Still not sure what you are looking for? Get in touch with us on our chat feature or send us an email.