With everyone using digital filters now - thanks to Lightroom, Instagram, or even Snapchat - some people might argue that physical lens filters are now obsolete. Anyone who has seen what a real lens filter can do though, will know that couldn’t be further from the truth.
When looking through the different lens filters and all their accessories, it’s easy to become overwhelmed with all the specs and types. What diameter do I need for my lens? Is an ND or a polarising filter best for my shots? And which model is best for me?
We know there’s a lot to think about, so we put together these essential tips to make your decision that much easier.
For the landscape photographer, an ND (neutral density) filter is likely your best bet. They let in less light to your camera’s sensor, so you can use a longer exposure time without impacting the colour of the photo. Some are darker or lighter than others to give you the perfect balance of lighting. For example, when photographing moving bodies of water, using a long exposure time will add a smooth, soft effect. Without an ND lens filter though, you’d be left with a photo that’s too bright.
If you’re out and about in the daytime, a UV camera lens filter may be more what you’re looking for. These prevent ultraviolet rays from entering your camera’s lens, so that your shots don’t turn out blurry or hazy. The other added benefit of a UV lens filter is that it’ll protect your lens from scratches, smudges, or dust. If your camera happens to fall, you can often just clean or replace the filter instead of buying a whole new lens.
The main purposes of a UV filter are to block unwanted ultraviolet light and protect your lens. A polarising filter, on the other hand, can boost saturation, reduce glare, and enhance contrast. They’re also great at removing reflections from glass or water, allowing you to photograph what’s behind them instead of just a mirror image of yourself.
Also known as a CP (circular polariser), these can be adjusted to block specific light waves from reaching your lens. Just rotate the filter, and you’ll be able to see the effects in real time on your LCD screen. The changes in saturation can enrich blue skies or add a ‘pop’ to the whole picture. The effects when shooting any body of water are also abundantly clear - the differences in reflections are like night and day.
46, 52, 55, 58, 62, 67, 72, 77, 82... If these are all just meaningless numbers to you, you may need to take a closer look at your lens. When determining the camera lens filterdiameter, you can’t just take the focal length (like a 50mm lens), you need to look at the lens itself.
Usually, you can find the diameter by looking for the geometric symbol on the body of the lens - “ø”. The number next to that is the one you need. If you can’t find it on your lens though, just take a look at your user manual or the manufacturer’s site, and it should be pretty easy to find.
You can then just decide which type of filter you want, and find the right size for your lens. Every type of lens filter in our range comes in all the popular diameters, so you shouldn’t have a problem finding the one you need.
The final thing to keep in mind is that you might want a lens filter system that can be attached or removed quickly. A filter that you have to carefully align and screw to the lens could end up with you missing a perfectly-timed shot. With the help of the XUME filter suite though, you can just clip everything together using the built-in magnetic adapters.
You can now instantly attach and remove your filter without fiddling around preparing for a picture. Once your XUME quick release adapters are attached, you can connect filters to your lens with maximum precision and speed. The quick-snap magnets in the adapters allow for a rapid change of photography style even in extreme weather conditions.
Once you’ve worked out which type of lens you need and what size will fit your lens, you should have a good idea of which one to get. The only other things to consider are the quality, and the extra pieces.
If you go for a cheap lens filter, you’re of course going to get cheaper-looking results. The end product might be blurrier, or the filter may not offer your lens the protection you were expecting. That’s why you’ll want to find a reputable camera lens filter manufacturer before making a purchase.
If you’re looking for quality, you’ll be glad to know that every lens filter we make is scratch and water-repellant, and comes with a protective case for when you’re not using it. We even cover every filter with a 3-year warranty to give you absolute peace of mind.
After you’ve got your lens filters sorted, you’ll of course need something to carry them in. Our camera bag buying guide should help you work out which one you need. To get even more out of your photos, check out our guide to buying the tripod you need.