Camera Filters: the only cheat sheet you’ll need for beautiful, balanced exposures

Camera Filters: the only cheat sheet you'll ever need to get beautifully balanced exposures

Camera filter options

Camera filter options

Back in the days of film, filters were essential for creating any kind of special effect. Although we now have digital filters available in photo editing software like Photoshop, traditional filters still have their place.

Nothing quite beats the satisfaction and convenience of getting a picture right in-camera, and there are four types of optical camera filters whose effects are time-consuming – or almost impossible – to recreate in Photoshop: circular polariser, Neutral Density (ND), graduated Neutral Density (ND grad) and protective.

These essential filters come in a wide range of shapes and sizes, from small squares of gel that slot into the back of some lenses to circular screw-in and larger square or rectangular filters that sit in front of a lens.

Prices for camera filters vary too, from inexpensive options manufactured by companies such as Kood, to high-end filters from the likes of Tiffen and Hasselblad.

For most of us, the stand-out names in the market are Hoya for circular screw-in filters and both Cokin and Lee, who dominate the market for square/rectangular versions.

Resin vs glass
Resin filters are cheaper and lighter than glass ones, but are more prone to scratches. On the other hand, glass filters can be very expensive and less robust. Treat both types in the same way that you treat the front element of your camera lens, and they’ll last for years.

PAGE 1: Using camera filters effectively – free cheat sheet
PAGE 2: Camera filter options
PAGE 3: Square vs Round camera filters


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ND Grad Filters: what every photographer should know
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  • jmeyer

    Hi Steve – It’s because printable pdfs are very large in size, even at low-res, and we simply don’t have the space. We’re looking at other ways, but in the meantime you can drag and drop it to your desktop, then crop and save each individual sheet.

    Not sure what you mean by advertising. There are a few ads on the site, but there aren’t any ads on the cheat sheets!

  • jmeyer

    ‘Pointless’ sounds a bit harsh, as you can still read them and learn from them. We’re trying to give these to you for free, and PDFs are way too large to host on the site, as are PSD files. We’ve broken up some of our more popular cheat sheets in this longer format and put the PSDs on Flickr (Google ‘posing guide’ and you’ll find links in that post). We’re working our way through them, but if there’s one like this that you want now you can drag and drop the file to your desktop. Then just crop each of the four sections and save as a new file. Those should print fine.