Camera filters: which type is right for you?

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Choosing which camera filter to buy depends on a number of critical factors. In our latest camera tips video, we run through the different types of camera filters available, explains their pros and cons and which might be the best filter for your photography.

Camera Filters Video Transcript


One of the most confusing aspects when choosing camera filters is whether to go for the round screw-in type or one of the square holder systems. Well, both types have their pros and cons; so let’s take a look at how they work.

Round filters simply screw into the filter thread of your lens. So you need to make sure that you get the right size for the lens that you want to use them on.

This design is perfect for filters that you want to fit onto your lens to protect the front of the lens such as a skylight or UV. It’s also great for filters such as plain neutral density, which you don’t need to move once attached, or polarising camera filters, which come in a rotating mount to vary the effect.

But there are two reasons why screw-in filters might not be the best choice.

First, if you want to use filters on lenses with different size threads you’ll need to buy extra filters.

Second, is if you want to use neutral density graduated filters, which you need to be able to move up and down to suit your subject. This is where a square filter system is a much better option, but there are several different sizes and systems to choose from.

The two most common size of square filter are 85mm like these Cokin P series ones and the 100mm filters such as the Lee and Cokin ZPro series.

The smaller size is fine for most lenses, but if your lenses have a filter thread larger than 72mm or are extremely wide-angle you’ll find the larger 100mm systems are a better option.

Whichever system you choose you’ll need a filter holder and adapter rings for each different size lens that you have.

Normally you would screw the adapter ring onto your lens, and then attach the filter holder. You can then pop the filters into these slots, and rotate the holder for shooting in vertical or horizontal formats.

One final point to remember is that you should normally use the slots closest to the lens first, especially for neutral density grad filters, as they need to be as close to the lens as possible.


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