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The best light pollution filters for astrophotography and star gazing

the best light pollution filters for astrophotography
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The best light pollution filters make it possible to capture pin-sharp astro images even in a city. The light pollution emitted by street lamps, illuminated signs, houses, cars, and everything else that makes a city what it is, will usually make it so you an barely spot a single star in the sky, never mind constellations, planets or anything else. Even the best editing software won't help here, and that's where the best light pollution filters come in. 

What are light pollution filters? Pretty simple devices at their core, these glass filters will suppress the emissions generated by artificial lighting. Screwing onto the front of a lens just light polarisers or ND filters, the light pollution filters will reduce the yellow/greenish colour caused by city lights that prevents you from capturing the glory of the heavens above.

Your resulting image will have more clarity, better and more natural colours, and improved contrast. Different light-pollution filters will achieve this with different levels of effectiveness, which is why we've put together this guide to the best light-pollution filters you an buy right now.

• Read more: How to improve your astrophotography: tips, tricks and techniques

A good light-pollution filter can be a relatively modest expense (though as we'll see, some of the fancier models can carry a surprisingly high price tag), and it makes sense to pick one up if you anticipate doing a lot of urban night-time photography. You can't always rely on post-production to fix the problems in an image, and if you can sort out something in-camera then that's all the better.

Light-pollution filters come from both well-known brands and relatively unheard-of ones, and we've included a selection of both in this guide. While going with a well-known brand can be a reassuring way to get a product you know will work well, sometimes lesser-known names can provide you with an unexpected bargain. Both are worth considering.

Some filters will also have extra features like anti-reflective coatings, or will be built to be water- or oil-repellent. We've made sure to mention such qualities whenever we came across them in making our picks. Finally, one thing to mention is make sure that you get the right size filter for your lens' filter thread. Larger sizes tend to cost more, so watch out.

The best light pollution filters

(Image credit: Hoya)

1: Hoya Starscape Light Pollution Cut Filter

A slim filter that even works with wider lenses

Available sizes: 49mm, 52mm, 55mm, 58mm, 62mm, 67mm, 72mm, 77mm and 82mm

Reduces colour casts
Improves contrast and visibility
Large sizes are pricey

Available in a broad range of sizes to fit your lens in question, this Japanese manufactured screw-on example from filter specialist Hoya, seeks to reduce yellowish and greenish color casts resulting from taking photographs in areas swamped by street lights. 

The intended result is improved overall contrast and natural color, thus reducing the amount of time needed for post processing the pictures later. 

The filter has the further advantage of a low profile and is compatible with both wide- and super wide-angle lenses, reassures the manufacturer, which makes them ideal for shooting landscapes and astrological photography at night. A ‘heavenly’ option!

(Image credit: Lipo)

2: Ice LiPo Light Pollution Reduction Filter for Night Sky/Star

Available sizes: 49mm, 52mm, 55mm, 58mm, 62mm, 67mm, 72mm, 77mm, 82mm and 100mm

Affordable
Square version available
Less tried and tested

Not a brand name formerly familiar to us, this light pollution filter from ‘Ice’ nevertheless comes in a range of filter sizes at slightly more affordable prices than most bigger name alternatives. 

Those aiming to achieve greater clarity for their astrophotography and/or make their post processing tasks a little easier if shooting in a city or suburban area inevitably swamped with artificial light, simply screw it on to the front of their lens and away you go, blocking out the color shifting glow from street lights without changing the entire color spectrum. There is also a 100mm square version of the filter, designed for use with slot-in filter systems.

The round optical glass filters also feature a double threaded frame, which allows for filter stacking or the application of hoods and caps. Comes supplied with a plastic case too, for transportation and protection.

(Image credit: K&F)

3: K&F Concept Natural Night Filter Light Pollution Filter

Coated to be tough, this is a premium filter for cutting unwanted light

Available sizes: 52mm, 58mm, 67mm, 77mm, 82mm and 100mm

Scratch and water resistant
Double sided nano coating
Not the cheapest

Again promising photographers more clarity, contrast and natural looking colors when shooting at night in urban areas, this double threaded K&F Concept branded round filter features double-sided nano coating to help stop yellow and orange wavelengths of light from entering the lens. 

Claimed to be scratch- and water-resistant, it is also conveniently super slim, with a frame design just 3.8mm wide. This means it won’t add significantly to your camera and lens’s combined profile, while it’s constructed from aviation grade aluminum alloy material to boot. 

To ensure the color authenticity of shots, the makers further advise using a manual white balance setting and selecting a color temperature between 700K and 1,500K.

(Image credit: Rollei)

4: Rollei Astroklar Round Light Pollution Filter

Rollei's filter impresses, though you'll want to tweak your white balance

Available sizes: 39mm, 40.5mm, 46mm, 49mm, 52mm, 55mm, 58mm, 62mm, 67mm, 72mm, 77mm, 82mm, 86mm, 92mm, 100mm, 105mm and 150mm

Double-sided nano coating
Water-repellent
Expensive
Requires tweaking white balance 

Another familiar name in the image-making world aiming to sort out night pollution for photographers wanting to give astrophotography and more their literal ‘best shot’ – Rollei claims its offering is made from high-quality optical glass and behaves in a neutral fashion within the infrared light range, providing night-time images with a cooler tone. 

Its water- and oil-repellent surface also helps prevent unwanted reflections. 

Again, Rollei advises its users to utilize manual white balance select a color temperature of between 700K and 1500K before using the filter to obtain authentic colors when it comes to the end result. Inevitably some trial and error will be involved in order to arrive at an optimal result.

(Image credit: Haida)

5: Haida Slim Nano Pro MC Clear Night Filter

Haida might be a new brand to you, but don't count out this impressive filter

Available sizes: 52mm, 55mm, 58mm, 62mm, 67mm, 72mm, 77mm, 82mm, and 100mm

Can stack multiple filters
Nano-coated, weather-resistant
Relatively unknown brand 
Not cheap either

Available in a variety of filter sizes and thread diameters, this Far Eastern optical glass filter is another opportunity to help ensure clarity in your night-time imagery and detailed skies, even if you happen to be stuck in the suburbs. 

The claim is that this one can block rays within the spectrum of sodium lamps and minimize pollution from artificial light sources. 

Like most of the options here, nano multi coated, water-resistant glass is also provided, to enable shooting to continue to take place, even in wet conditions. 

A double threaded frame enables you to stack filters, and the addition of hoods and caps, with a plastic case also included for transporting the filter, means that most boxes end up ticked.

(Image credit: Irix)

6: Irix Edge Light Pollution Filter

Definitely a premium filter, but worth it if your budget goes this far

Available sizes: 67mm, 72mm, 77mm, 82mm, 86mm and 95mm

Anti reflective coating
Higher contrast and sharper images
A costlier option

If you’re attempting landscape, nightscape or astrophotography, this light pollution filter from Irix claims to guarantee more accurate color, by greatly reducing the yellowish haze given off by artificial lighting. 

The result? Clearer, cleaner images and better overall contrast. 

The screw-in filters themselves are also claimed to be durable, with nano surfacing again keeping the filter free from moisture and dirt, and preventing anything nasty sticking to the surface. 

Furthermore, both sides of the filter are covered with a multi layer anti-reflective coating, to help prevent any lens flare and ensure clarity of image every time.

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