In the days of digital photography, it is often the view that filters are old-fashioned and unnecessary, but there’s a lot to be said for still using a filter to capture the best image in-camera.
Filters can be indispensable for capturing landscapes in extremely difficult lighting conditions, they can enhance colors and reduce reflections. Polarizing and ND filters can produce effects that are time-consuming or even impossible to replicate digitally. Don’t rely on Photoshop to add effects and rectify badly exposed image, have some fun using filters in the field to capture the best image in-camera. These are 4 of the most used filters that every serious landscape photographer should own.
A polarizing filter is the most important filter you will own for landscape photography for useful for removing reflections on water making skys a deeper blue. It is worth investing in a good quality one, as cheap ones often do not have the same polarizing effect.
Graduated ND filters are used to help balance bright skies in landscape photography, these filters are available in both hard and soft graduations.
Hard – Best for defined/strait horizons, eg on the coastline.Available in strengths of 2, 3 & 4 stop
Soft – Best for more complex horizon lines eg a mountain. Available in strengths of 2, 3 & 4 stop
Reverse – Hard grad with soft fade upwards for shooting into the sun at sunset. Available in strengths of 2 & 3 stop
Solid ND Filters
Solid ND filters are used to reduce exposure in landscape photography, often to capture flowing water and long exposures.
- 4 stops (ND16) – Best for long exposures in lower light at sunset
- 6 Stops (ND64) – Best for long exposures leading up to sunset & waterfalls/rivers on an overcast day
- 10 Stops (ND1000) – Best for long exposures during the day
Screw-in or slot-in filters?
Most filters can be bought in both screw-in or slot-in types. Screw-in filters can be screwed directly to the thread on your lens, where slot-in filters require a filter holder to first be screwed into your lens to hold the filter.
- Good choice for UV and Polarizing filters that are often left on your lens
- Require no filters holder and can be screwed directly into your lens
- If using multiple filters, they can sometimes get stuck together and can also cause vignetting
- Require a filters holder, that screws onto your lens to hold the filter
- One set of filters fits all of your lenses
- Multiple filters can be used without vignetting
- Very quick to use and change filters
- Graduated filters can be positioned on the horizon line by moving them up and down in the holder
Types of slot in filter systems
Basic 84mm slot-in filter systems
The cheap and basic 84mm filter systems offer a good introduction to slot in filters but have some real drawbacks:
- Do not fit most wide angle lenses without vignetting
- Are often very poor optical quality leading to soft photographs
- Are often not truly neutral and create very stong colour casts that are hard to correct
Pro 100mm slot-in filter systems
Available from leading brands like Benro, these filters are well made and have excellent optical quality.
- Designed to fit wide angle lenses without vignetting
- Excellent optical quality
- Are truly neutral or create color casts that can be easliy corrected
- Top manufacturers of 100mm system also offer these filter systems in the following sizes: 75mm – designed for smaller mirrorless cameras and 150mm – designed for use on some ultra wide lenes
Due to the very limited availability of top quality filters in camera shops in New Zealand, we have just become a retailer for BENRO filters. We feel that the BENRO system is now one of the best on the market in terms of design and quality; all of these filters are made of glass, unlike some other brands that are still made of resin. BENRO 100mm filters also fit in the filter holder of most other brands of 100mm filters.
An overview of the BENRO 100m pro filter system can be found here, they also make 75mm 150mm and screw in type filters. Please use the below link for more information on BENRO filters.
The use of all these filters is fully covered on all our weekend and 4-day workshops. You do not need to have these filters to attend a workshop and we often have some spare for you to try out.