The Uses of UV Filters and Cooling/Warming Filters

Camera filters can greatly impact the outcome of an image. Cooling or warming filters can, for example, adjust the white balance of a scene. Filters can also be used to protect the lens, as with the case of UV filters. Let us explain each in more detail: 

UV Filters:

Before the advent of digital cameras, UV filters were a must to reduce haze and improve contrast by lessening the amount of ultraviolet (UV) light that reaches the film. Digital camera sensors are not as sensitive to UV light compared to film so it makes filtration unnecessary. It is now mainly used to protect the front part of the camera lens, being clear and not visibly affecting the image. 

Multicoated UV filters remarkably reduce the chance of flare and it also keeps your filter clean and minimizes the chances of getting poor quality of images. Great quality UV filters prevents any visible color casts. On the downside, UV filters can decrease image quality by intensifying lens flare by adding minimal color tint, or by decreasing contrast. 

It is always being debated on as to whether using a UV filter for protection is better even though it runs the risk of decrease in image quality. For high-end DSLR lenses, that added protection is the deciding factor. However, for less expensive DSLR lenses, and also for digital point-and-shoot cameras, the quality of images trumps protection. In the end, it all depends on the user. 

Another thing to consider is that with digital cameras coming out every so often with more and more options to lure even non-photography enthusiasts, we always want to upgrade our current DSLR camera to newer, better ones. One way to assure you get top dollar for reselling your old camera is to get added protection for it. UV filters does just that. It keeps the front lens in mint condition. All things considered, it can even increase image quality compared to an unfiltered lens since it can be replaced when it starts to affect the quality of an image. 

Cooling or Warming Filters: 

Cooling or warming filters affect the balance of light that reaches the camera’s sensor. This is most effective when correcting color casts. It can also add warmth to a scene. For example, when weather conditions are cloudy, you can instead make it seem like the sun is setting and have the scene appear with a warm yellowish hue. 

A DSLR camera will have the feature to automatically adjust for white balance, and this can also be adjusted in post processing. However, some situations may still call for color filters, such as having to deal with unusual lighting or underwater shots where the color blue is predominant. This is because of the monochromatic light that cannot be corrected by any amount of white balance that supposedly restores full color under normal conditions. If in case it does correct white balance, there will be a noticeable amount of image noise in some color channels.

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Understanding the Various Camera Lens Filters

A camera lens filter is an accessory that allows photographers to have more control over the images they capture. These filters can either be round or square in shape, made of glass or plastic, and can either be screwed or clipped in place in front of the lens. Although, filter effects can be copied in common editing software techniques, actual filters will give much better results and some are very difficult to reproduce. Here are some popular filter types with their various uses and advantages that can help you create better images.

Filter Types:

Linear and circular polarizers – these filters reduce glare and boost saturation. Usually used in landscape photography where skies, greenery, and water are the main subjects.

Neutral Density (ND) filters – this is often colorless or gray in shade and modifies the intensity of all wavelengths or colors of light in equal measure, while leaving the color hues intact. With an ND filter, you have more options to play with the exposure settings. For example, if you want to have a motion blur effect of a waterfall and there is bright sunlight, you can use this filter instead of decreasing aperture size (to lessen the amount of light entering the sensor). This means you do not have to sacrifice depth of field to capture the image.

Graduated Neutral Density (GND) filters – this is great for lessening the possibility of vignetting and helps control light gradients. This kind of filter is divided into a darker side and a lighter side and the division in the middle, which blends these two shades, varies from soft to hard. This is often used for landscapes that show a dramatic change in lighting, such as a bright sky above a dark row of trees.

UV/Haze – a very useful all-around filter and protects the lens as well. This was often used with film cameras to cut the atmospheric haze that could be captured in the image. Since digital cameras are much less sensitive to UV rays, this filter serves the purpose of general protection of the lens.

Cooling/Warming filters – these filters are used to alter the white balance of the scene. They have cool or warm colored tints. Ideal for underwater images, landscape shots and images that make use of special lighting.

Polarizers or polarizing filter – this enhances landscape images by cutting down on the intensity of reflected light that goes through to the camera’s sensor. Much like polarized sunglasses, it makes the sky and water seem a deeper blue, and makes the trees and other plants, and even rocks a more vibrant color saturation that increases the visual appeal of images.. It reduces glare and reflections from water and other reflective surfaces as well as decreases the contrasts between the skies and the ground.

As advantageous as polarizing filters can be, be careful because it can also greatly diminish the amount of light that reaches your camera’s sensor by at least 2 to3 f-stops, which is about ¼ to 1/8 amount of light. You might need to compensate for this by using a slower shutter speed or using a bigger lens opening.  Moreover, using polarizers in wide angled lenses may create unbalanced or skies that look visibly darker than usual.

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