Best Filters for DSLR Camera Lenses
Let's start off by saying something very simple about filters. Filters help to improve your images, can protect your lens and allow you to produce more creative images. I'll be focusing on the filters tknown as round-threaded filters. These filters are round and screw into the front of your lens. Not all point-and-shoot cameras are capable of holding a filter, you will need to check your camera manual or the manufacturers web site. If you have a higher end point-and-shoot camera or a digital SLR, you will probably be able to use these filters.
There are lots of different types of filters -- some of these are:
- Color Correction
- Light Balancing
- Special Effects
- Color Graduating
Protection - designed to protect your lens from dust, moisture, fingerprints, scratches and more. Some of these absorb UV light and claim to not alter your image at all. Many professionals recommend that you not use them because any additional glass you put in front of your lens affects the photo. I however (not being a total pro) recommend using these if you're not a careful person and could potentially scratch a lens -- you should think about getting one, they're cheaper than replacing a lens.
Polarizing - designed for outdoor photography. It's almost like putting a pair of sunglasses over your lens on a really bright sunny day. The filter deepens the intensity of a blue sky, reduces glare from all types of surfaces (windows, water). We recommend the circular polarizer because you can lessen or enhance the effect of the filter.
Color Correction & Light Balancing - Light all looks the same to the human eye. The camera will see light differently depending on the source of the light and if outside, the 'color' of the light depends on the time of day and the angle of the sun. These filters are designed to balance out the color of the light to provide a resulting image that closely matches what you see with your eye.
Portrait - designed to create a mood or designed to make people look better. Some of these filters are used to smooth out wrinkles and other skin blemishes (mist filters), some of these filters are also designed to make colors warmer (i don't know what that means).
Special Effects - There are lots of different kinds. Some are designed to alter the colors that the camera captures, some are used to enhance points of light (typical of nighttime photography), some are designed to mimic some natural effects like fog or even provide the look of an old photograph. Software can alter the resulting digital image, so before investing in a lot of effect filters, make sure that you experiment with your photo software because you might just be doubling up on something that you can already do.
Kits - Combination packs of filters designed to sell you more filters. If you're going to go out and purchase a lot of filters that you may never use, by all means, buy kits - they'll probably save you a bunch of money. This is an economic way to purchase a bunch of filters but for 'Joe Slobb' most of these kits are a bit more than you'll need or want.
Color Graduating - these filters are half clear and half color with a graduated density (that means it gets darker gradually) to smooth the color in a scene. These filters may be used in combination to affect the top and bottom of a photograph differently. These filters can be very useful in outdoor photography to balance out the intense light from the sky.