After things went digital, most photographers simply didn’t need to buy those warm tone filters to tone their images – they could easily change the tones on computer later! Consequently, the photographers’ kit bag didn’t really need some of the filters that were handy during film days. Just like the color filters, the ever present ‘diffuser’ too lost its place with Photoshop doing a fine job during the post-production stage. So do filters still have a place in a kit bag? Some of them do!
- The UV Filter – The UV filter was critical when lenses were not of the high quality that they are today. Modern lenses are pretty much able to filter out undesirable UV rays by themselves. So why do photographers still choose to use UV filters? Because it helps protect the surface of the lens! If you happen to scratch the filter, it is not going to be too expensive to replace the UV; but scratches on the surface of the lens itself are every photographer’s nightmare…and it is also a very expensive issue to replace the front element of a lens.
- ND Filters – Neutral Density filters provide a critical control to landscape photographers. They simply block out light in different ratios based on the density of the filter. You could look at them as sunglasses for your lens. Using ND filters allows for you to be able to really slow down the shutter speed drastically, and sometimes that is exactly what you require to make images like the one below
ND filters are available in different ‘f-stops’. The higher the filter number, the denser it is and the more would it increase exposure time.
3. Polarizers – Polarizers can work a little bit of magic by eliminating unwanted reflections. To understand exactly what makes them work can take a little bit of physics. Certain wave lengths of light are prone to reflect off semitransparent surfaces such as glass and water. Now, when you are photographing glass or water you usually wouldn’t want reflections on the surface (take for example shooting a framed painting). Using a polarizer can drastically reduce these reflections because it cuts out these ‘linear-polarized’ wavelengths of light. All you need to do is mount the polarizer on your lens’ filter ring and turn it until you see the reflections vanish! It’s pretty amazing to see that.
Polarizers also help add a bit of density to the colors. When shooting a very bright sky, you could use a polarizer to add a little bit of blue to the otherwise burnt-out sky! POINT TO REMEMBER – ALWAYS use the best quality of filter that money can buy. You pay a lot of good money to get the best lenses, and it is a pity to deteriorate the quality of the light even before it reaches that expensive lens, by subjecting it to a poor quality filter!