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I like lens filters. There are so many adjustments and enhancements that we can do with post processing programs such as Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, Auto FX, or Authentech. Like many other photographers, I prefer to make my in camera image files the best they can be before any post processing is done.
Quality lens filters allow us to do this. A couple of lens filters I consider to be must-have lens filters are circular polarizers and variable ND filters. These are virtually essential landscape photography filters, but have many other uses as well.
The Case For Circular Polarizers
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There are multiple benefits of circular polarizers that can change your images for the better. A circular polarizer is one of the top lens filters choices for all photography. I recommend getting one as soon as possible if you haven’t already.
The benefits of circular polarizers are multiple and can be very noticeable. Primarily, circular polarizers adjust polarized light. A large portion of polarization that affects photographic images comes from reflections.
photo by darksite via iStock
Even the dust and water molecules suspended in the atmosphere reflect light. That’s part of the reason that the sky is blue. A circular polarizer tames that scattering. The result shows immediately in your viewfinder or viewscreen and also in your images. The sky turns deep blue and any clouds present literally POP out in fluffy contrast.
There are other benefits of circular polarizers that can positively affect many different categories of images and light situations. You can find more information of the value and use of circular polarizer lens filters in other articles on this site.
Haida NanoPro MC Circular Polarizer Filter
Haida C-POL lens filters are very high quality and are made in sizes to fit most of the current lenses from camera and lens makers. They are all glass and metal, very thin to avoid any vignetting. The prices are nice, too.
In the image below you can see this slim lens filter mounted on a mirrorless full frame format camera with a large aperture zoom lens. Operation is simple. The rear knurled ring you see is what you screw into the lens, the outer knurled ring is what you use to rotate the filter. As you can also see, even in such a large diameter filter size, the filter still has a very slim housing.
Haida lens filters are multi coated to lessen glass reflection and improve light transmission. The Haida multi coating also helps prevent scratches, smudges, and dust collection. Made in sizes from 49mm to 82mm.
Variable ND Filters
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Neutral Density lens filters are used to attenuate the light entering your lens and reaching your sensor. This allows photographers to change exposure settings in order to take advantage of certain techniques.
One technique that ND lens filters let you use is selective focus. If the light is bright enough to use small apertures and faster shutter speeds at the same time, yet you want a wider aperture to limit depth of focus, you would use an ND lens filter, since neutral density lowers how much light passes through the lens.
The benefits of variable ND filters is letting you adjust how much density to use. Some ND lens filters are in just one density level, variable ND lens filters let you adjust that value.
Haida NanoPro MC Variable ND Filter
The Haida NanoPro MC variable ND filter is available in sizes from 52mm to 95mm. An interesting feature of this lens filter is the small metal handle that you can use to rotate the outer filter in order to change how much ND to add.
Below, you can see the filter attached to the same camera and lens. The handle may seem a little obtrusive at first. It’s actually pretty small, plus it makes operating the filter feel smoother and more in control.
It’s heavier and thicker than the C-POL, but it enables variable attenuation of neutral density from 4 to 9 stops of exposure. That’s enough to change a shutter speed or exposure time from 1/15th of a second to over a full minute. Or an aperture from f/22 to f/1.4. And lower values in between.
That’s a whole lot of exposure value variation firepower. Besides the scenarios mentioned above, check out other uses for ND filters in [our articles here]
Must-Have Lens Filters
The circular polarizer and variable ND lens filters are extremely valuable filters for landscape photography due to the specific challenges in making great scenic images. These are also useful for many other types of images you want to capture.
Polarizers and ND filters are great for portrait work, especially outdoors. Real estate and architectural photography as well. What are you using your C-POL and ND lens filters for?