- High-Quality Optical Glass
- Anti-Reflection Coating
- Smudge Proof Coating
- Heavy Duty Construction
- Smooth Fit and Finish
- Textured Outer Ring
- Durable Markings
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Lens filters are among the most important photographic accessories for serious photographers. Besides the lens filters that some photographers use on certain lenses as protection, other lens filters are used to tame reflections, adjust dynamic range, or change exposure values.
The most used types of lens filters for digital photography are circular polarizers (C-POL), neutral density (ND), and graduated neutral density (GND) filters. Within the categories of these types of lens filters are some variations and combinations.
Costs of Lens Filters
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High quality lens filters might be budget priced, bundled in kits, or put on sale from time to time, but they will cost more than low quality accessories. This is to be expected, since we have likely already noticed price differences in our camera and lens options that relate to ruggedness, sharpness, or overall quality.
Even though as photographers many of us have at least a slight tendency to be gearheads, we still don’t want to waste time or money on photography gear that isn’t cost effective or useful for our photography.
Lens Filter Features
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Here are some lens filter features and lens filter construction to look for when considering a new purchase of lens filters:
We’ll discuss each of these as to why they’re important, but we might also look at a game changing solution to the pricing issue of high-quality filters, too.
There is a new product released by H&Y Filters, the RevoRing, which is an innovative method for adapting filters to various size lenses. It saves us money by not having to buy several different sizes of high-quality filters. It can also save us time by operating as a type of quick release for filters. Check it out for yourself!
Now let’s examine the important lens filter features and construction.
High-Quality Optical Glass
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This should be our number one consideration when looking at new lens filters. If the filter glass optical quality is below what our lens is, the entire setup suffers. The overall optical quality of a lens plus a filter will be based on the lowest quality component.
Don’t negate the high-quality of your fine lenses by adding inferior quality glass into the optical path of the image taking machine.
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Our lenses have coatings on each element to eliminate or reduce glare and poor light transmission, lens filters need this as well. Especially since the lens filter is the outermost piece of glass in the optical light path.
Smudge Proof Coating
Being the outermost piece of glass in the optical path also means a lens filter is likely to take some abuse regardless of how careful we may be. Fingerprints and smudges from accidental contact can be reduced by lens coatings. These lens filter coatings also help prevent scratches.
Heavy Duty Construction
Lens filters present a fairly unique construction problem in that the large and somewhat thin piece of glass has to be housed in a little bit of some type of material, the filter housing or filter ring. High quality lens filters tend to use aircraft aluminum as housing material due to its high strength and low weight.
Smooth Fit and Finish
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Since we already talked about high-quality optical glass, this point of lens filter construction will apply to the filter ring. Especially does the thread for attaching the lens filter need to be smooth and properly machined. Tiny changes in thread pitch or rough finish will make a lens filter difficult to use.
Textured Outer Ring
This applies mostly to ease of use. A textured or knurled outer ring is easier to attach and remove than a smooth outer rim. For polarizers and variable ND filters, it gives us something to grab onto while adjusting.
If we can’t tell what filter it actually is after a few uses, we won’t get much use out of the lens filter. These markings may include the type of lens filter, the strength of an ND filter, and the thread size of the lens filter. We could guess, but it’s better to know for sure before digging out of the bag or case.
Worth the Effort
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It may cost us a little more, and might require some extra research, but buying and using high-quality lens filters is the way to go for photographic accessories.