Monday, March 26, 2007
Toolbox: Photo Filters
They may seem like old tech for the digital photographer, but traditional photo filters are still important photography tools
In addition to filters that control color and exposure, specialty filters can help you in other creative ways. For example, star or cross star filters, which refract light sources to extend their rays as if they were shining stars, can add interest to otherwise mundane light sources. Multiple image filters clone a single subject into any number of duplicates for a "hall of mirrors" effect. And every photographer should consider carrying a diffusion or soft-focus filter to smooth the sharpness and contrast of a landscape or portrait, giving a painterly, romantic look to the subject.
Screw-mount types are by far the most common filters and attach directly to the front of your lens. The other type, popularized by Lee, employs flat, rectangular filters, which slide into a holder that mounts to the lens. The latter system allows you to switch filters quickly, and they can be handheld for better placement.
If you opt for screw-mount filters, avoid redundancy by buying filters that fit your widest diameter lens. Adapter rings are available to step down your filters to fit your smaller diameter lenses, so there's no reason to buy the same filter over and over again in multiple sizes.
Tiffen Pro-Mist 3 and Warm Pro-Mist 1
Soft filters create a dreamlike atmosphere for landscapes or portraits. They soften sharpness and add a halo effect to highlights and whites. The Warm Pro-Mist also tints to add extra warmth to flesh tones. Estimated Street Price: $42 to $375.
Tiffen Gold Diffusion/FX
A gold tint will add warmth to your shots and balance skin tones, and diffusion will soften harsh textures and diminish blemishes or wrinkles. A combination of the two makes an excellent filter for portraiture. Estimated Street Price: $50 to $310.
Singh-Ray "LB" Warming Polarizer
The "LB" stands for lighter and brighter. This warming polarizer has a light loss of only one and one-third stops, which means more light for fast shutter speeds while still being able to reduce reflections and haze. Singh-Ray has improved the light transmission in this model to work better with your camera's auto functions, too. A warming tinge adds a feeling of sun. List Price: $210 to $240.
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