We Simplify The Technical!

Would adding a filter make this a better image? Joe Fitzpatrick explains
how using ND and CPL filters can increase the quality of your images
and give you a wider range of shooting options.

*Please scroll to the bottom of the post for more images from our guest.*

Episode 176

Camera Filter Types and Recommendations
with Joe Fitzpatrick

“A filter is something you put in front of the lens
to reduce or modify the light.”

Filter Styles

  • Square/Rectangular -sheets of coated glass or resin that slide into a holder mounted to the front of your camera.
    +  Available in complete kits or separate pieces in standard sizes.
    +  Able to change and stack filters quickly by sliding them into the holder.
    +  Able to adjust graduated filters vertically within the mount.
    – Puts a large apparatus on the front of your camera.
    – Typically will not accommodate a hood – increasing the chance for reflections on the lens. (You can bypass this simply by holding something over your lens to shade it.)
    – Light can leak in between the holder and the lens, making this system not as ideal for night photography. (Again, able to be bypassed by wrapping gaffer’s tape around the joint.)
  • Circular – Individual pieces of coated glass that screw directly onto the front of your camera.
    +  Available as separate pieces in standard sizes.
    +  Able to use on multiple sized lenses using Step-Up Rings (*It is recommended that you purchase filters to fit your LARGEST size lens, then use these adapters for your smaller lenses.) Step-Down rings are also available to make a smaller filter fit a larger lens, but you may get vignetting of your images.
    +  Able to stack multiple filters by screwing them into each other.
    –  More difficult to add a filter to the camera lens without changing the focus.

Filter Types

  • Special Effects
    – Produces a starburst or soft focus.
    – Not often used anymore because these effects can be added in post-processing.
  • Circular Polarizer (CPL)
    – Reduces glare and reflections from surfaces (specular highlights).
    – “Like putting polarized sunglasses on your camera.”
    – Increases color saturation.
    – Most effective when the sun is either directly overhead or to the side.
    – The amount of highlight reduction can be controlled by rotating the filter.
    – Costs 2 stops of light.
    * Not for use on lenses wider than 24mm – will give an unwelcome mottled effect to the sky.
  • Neutral Density (ND) (**See chart below for strengths.)
    – Reduces the light entering your lens.
    – Typically used for longer exposures to blur motion or produce silky water.
    – The strength of the filter needed depends on what look you’re going for and how long of an exposure you want.
    – ND filters can be stacked to increase strength.
    – Can be used in conjunction with CPL filters.
    * Variable ND filters are NOT recommended as they can produce lines and color shifts in your images.
  • Graduated Filters
    – Dark on one side to be used any time the sky is brighter than the ground.
    – Allows for longer exposures to get ground details.
    – Available with a hard edge demarcation or a softer, gradual fade.
  • Tinted Filters
    – Available in warming or cooling tones.
  • Light Pollution Filters
    – Targeted for specific spectrums or temperatures of light – typically set for street lights.
    – Useful for night photography.
  • UV Protective Filters
    – Useful in the days of film, today’s sensors do not pick up UV.
    – As a layer of protection, it’s better to use a hood or lens cap than to add another layer of glass in front of the lens.

Quality Qualifiers

  • Read reviews – watch that it doesn’t give an unwanted color cast to your images and check for quality.
  • Look for MULTI-COATED filters – special coatings on both sides of the glass/resin help reduce reflectivity.
  • Glass or Resin?
    – Resin may be cheaper and less likely to break.
    – Glass may be more optically clear.


  • Marumi   B + W      Singh-Ray     Lee     Hoya     Tiffen
  • You may need to shop directly from the company – Amazon and B&H do not carry wide ranges of filters.
  • Use a filter wrench to remove stubborn/stuck circular filters.


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Mentioned on the Show

Step-Ring article

Kevin Holliday Episode


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Gear Recommendation
of the Week


Neewer Step-up Filter Ring Set

Neewer Step-up Filter Adapter Ring Set can easily screw onto the front of any lens, and convert the thread size of your lens to the thread size of any other accessory (such as filters, hoods, flashes and lens converters).
Provides a way to fit larger diameter filters or accessories onto a smaller lens.
Made of premium grade aluminum, and precision production ensures smooth mounting.
Extremely solid and lightweight, polished and finished with anodized matte surface.
Fit any lens with the same filter thread, manual or autofocus, digital or film.


Joe Fitzpatrick_MG_3385 with pola
Joe Fitzpatrick_4526 with pola (2)
Joe Fitzpatrick_3865-2 with grad
Joe Fitzpatrick_MG_3387 without pola
Joe Filtzpatrick 4526 without pola (1)
Joe Fitzpatrick_3865 without grad

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