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How Important Are These Four Lens Filters for Photography?

Unless you’re a hardened landscape photographer, there’s a good chance that you simply don’t use filters if you’re shooting digitally. Chris Niccolls of DPReview makes a strong case for why there are four types of filter that should possibly still be in your gear bag.

Personally, I went through a long phase of shooting with a polarising filter, loving the deep blues that it gave me in skies, even occasionally turning them close too black. Fortunately, I’ve since moved on, but this is the one filter that still comes with me on my bigger trips, just in case there are reflections on buildings that I want to control. But for skies, it’s a thing of the past: dynamic range is so good these days that skies that feel too bright in camera can easily be tamed in post.

Niccolls doesn’t delve too far into the seemingly endless UV filter debate, but his conclusion on the matter seems fairly sensible, and as someone who’s constantly paranoid about dropping a lens mid-change, I’m wondering if I should grab myself a few.

You can catch up on the thoughts of Fstoppers own Alex Coleman's take on two filters that every photographer should own, and if you're trying to get your head around graduated ND filters, check out this article from Nando Harmsen.

Do you still use filters as much as you used to? Do they still have a regular place in your camera bag? Let us know in the comments below.

Image thumbnail by Christian Fregnan.

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Deleted Account's picture

I don't think a UV filter or clear filter is going to help much in the instance of a drop. It is definitely useful for scratched caused by debris like sand, though. Using a filter also puts the wear and tear of regular cleaning on the filter rather than your actual lens coatings. On the other side is certainly the potential IQ issue and glare issue. Of course, scratches on your lens will eventually also cause their own slight IQ issues, too, so pick your poison.

Annette Gadson's picture

Well stated! I try to keep my lenses naked and just keep extreme care of them but that's a good point about micro scratches on lens also cause problems. However, over 10 years and the naked glass is still pristine. Just lots of lens cap swapping which is annoying, but it works.

Rob Gatson's picture

I used to feel the same way, but I recently had a gust of wind knock my camera over on a tripod. I had an ND filter on it, and the camera fell at an angle and landed on the ND filter edge and dented it so bad I had to break it to get it off. If the Filter wasn't on it, it would have landed on the edge of the lens and potentially dented/damaged it. So I saved my $2300 RF15-35 by a 50 dollar ND filter. So I don't question the benefit of filters as protection anymore.