A Guide to Filters for Lenses


If you ask most consumer-camera owners why they keep a filter on their lens, a majority will most likely reply, “For protection.” Although filters do, in fact, protect the surface of your lens against dust, moisture, and the occasional thumb print, the primary function of lens filters is really to improve the image quality of the pictures you take—depending on the filter you’re using and how you use it—in a variety of obvious and not-so-obvious ways.

Are there a few basic filters or do I need to buy many filters?

The most basic filters are ultra-violet reducing filters (UV), Skylight filters, and protection filters, which depending on the manufacturer are either glass filters with basic anti-reflective coatings, or in some cases, merely plainclothes UV filters, which isn’t dishonest. To keep the front element of your lens clean and safe, any of the above will suffice, but if you’re looking to protect your lens and improve the image quality of your stills and video, you’re going to want to purchase a UV or Skylight filter.

UV filters, also referred to as Haze filters, are designed to cut through the effects of atmospheric haze, moisture, and other forms of airborne pollutants, each of which contributes to image degradation. UV/Haze filters are available in varying strengths. If you plan on photographing near large bodies of open water, at higher altitudes, in snow or other conditions that magnify the intensity of ambient ultra-violet light, you should definitely consider a stronger level of UV filtration (UV-410, UV-415, UV-420, UV-Haze 2A, UV-Haze 2B, UV-Haze 2C and UV-Haze 2E). Depending on the strength of the UV coatings, UV filters appear clear, or in the case of heavier UV coatings, have a warm, amber-like appearance and require anywhere from zero to about a half stop of exposure compensation.

An alternative to UV/Haze filters are Skylight filters, which are available in a choice of two strengths—Skylight 1A and Skylight 1B. Unlike UV/Haze filters, which have a warm amber appearance, Skylight filters have a magenta tint that is preferable when photographing skin tones or using color slide film, which depending on the film stock often has a blue bias that is typically counterbalanced by the magenta tint of Skylight filters.

Regardless of their strength, skylight filters do not have any effect on the camera exposure, are equal to UV filters in terms of cutting through atmospheric haze and protect your lens against dust, moisture, and fingerprints that can all be damaging to lens coatings if not removed in a timely manner.

I’ve found 52mm UV filters for as little as $9.95 and as much as $29.95. What’s the difference and why should one UV filter cost two or three times more than another?

Even though one UV filter might appear indistinguishable from another UV filter costing two or three times as much, the differences between them can be considerable, beginning with the quality of the glass used in the manufacturing process. Though one would suspect there’s little difference between one piece of glass and another, make no mistake about it—there’s glass and there’s glass, and the differences can make a difference in the quality of your images.

The primary criteria of good glass versus so-so glass are the chemical composition of the glass, how it was made and even where it was made. These are followed by the thickness of the glass (the thinner, the better) and the coatings used to minimize flare and maintain optimal color and contrast levels. Although the differences between an inexpensive filter and a pricier filter may not be all that apparent when photographing with a kit zoom lens, they become increasingly obvious when used with costlier, higher-performance lenses.

In the case of color and Polarizing filters, which typically consist of a thin layer of color film (or Polarizing material) sandwiched between two layers of glass, the film is usually bonded to the glass layers in pricier filters. This eliminates air surfaces and other irregularities that can negatively affect the optical purity of the filter than less expensive filters designed to perform the same functions.

The other difference between entry-level filters and the pricier versions has to do with the retaining rings, which in the case of cheaper filters are invariably made of aluminum (a relatively soft metal) that are subject to denting and jamming if they're not screwed on straight. Conversely, the retaining rings used on pricier filters are most always made of brass and, as such, are less likely to get jammed onto your lens or dent when they strike hard surfaces.

The bottom line is if you go the extra mile (and expense) by purchasing a better lens, you shouldn’t compromise the results of your investments by saving a few dollars on the filter.

What are Kaeseman filters and why are they priced noticeably higher than regular filters?

Kaeseman filters, which are invariably Polarizing filters, are manufactured with more weather-proofing seals than non-Kaeseman filters. They are worthy investments if your photographic interests include traveling to and working in damp, extreme climates.

Aside from UV/Haze and Skylight filters, what other types of filters should I consider for everyday picture-taking?

If you photograph landscapes—or any outdoor scenics for that matter—you should certainly have a Polarizing filter handy at all times. Polarizing filters are best known for making clouds seemingly pop out from darkened blue skies, saturating colors and eliminating glare and reflections from the surfaces of water, glass, and other polished surfaces.

Polarizing filters are mounted in a secondary ring that you manually rotate while viewing your subject through the viewfinder until you dial in the desired level of Polarization. The downside of Polarizing filters is that you lose about three stops of light in the process of optimizing the image, but the results cannot be mimicked using Photoshop plug-ins or other forms of post-capture voodoo.

Polarizing filters are also available combined with additional filtration such as warming filtration (81A, 81C, 81EF, 85, 85B), Enhancing and Intensifying, Skylight, UV/Haze and a measure of diffusion.

Polarizing filters are available in two formats: linear and circular. Though they look and perform identically, circular Polarizing filters are designed specifically for use with autofocus lenses while linear are best used with manual-focus lenses. Circular Polarizers, on the other hand, can be used with AF or MF optics with equal results.

What are Neutral Density filters and how would I use them?

Neutral density (ND) filters are essentially gray-toned filters designed to absorb calibrated degrees of light as it passes through the lens. Most commonly broken down in 1/3, 2/3, and full-stop increments, ND filters are more recently also available as variable-density filters that you can infinitely adjust by rotating the filter on its mount as you would a Polarizing filter.

There are many applications for ND filters. Chief among them is their ability to allow you to shoot at wider f-stops under bright lighting conditions. ND filters are used extensively by filmmakers and videographers as tools that allow them better exposure control due to the limited shutter-speed options afforded by the cinema and video process.

ND filters also make it possible to blur the movement of pedestrian traffic and flowing water under bright lighting conditions by allowing you to drop your shutter speeds while maintaining full control of how much or how little depth of field you desire, based on the amount of ND filtration you place in front of the lens.

What’s the difference between Neutral Density and Graduated Neutral Density Filters?

Neutral density filters are even, edge to edge, in their degree of density while graduated neutral density filters are typically clear on one end and slowly build up density toward the opposite side of the filter. Graduated ND filters are most commonly used to even out scenes containing extreme exposure variations on opposite sides of the frame.

Examples of these types of scenarios include landscapes in which the top of a mountain is bathed in sunlight, while the valley below lies in shade; and multi-story atriums where the primary source of illumination is an overhead skylight from which the light gradually falls off as it approaches the lower levels. Graduated filters can also be used in evenly lit areas to darken the sky or foreground for stylistic reasons.

In addition to neutral graduated filters, colored grad filters are also available, and are useful for adding a touch of subliminal color into a scene while darkening the foreground or background.

Should I consider warming and cooling filters?

While warming (adding yellow to the scene) and cooling (adding blue to the scene) can be applied to an image file post capture in Photoshop or other image-editing software, there are still those—including film shooters, who prefer to filter the lens at the time the exposure is made.

Most photographers warm or cool their images for aesthetic or mood reasons. A bit of warming is often desired for portraits, or when photographing at midday during the summer months when the sun's light can be bluer and harsh. Warming can also be effective when taking pictures on overcast or rainy days.

Conversely, cooling filters can be used to correct color in images in which the color temperature is too warm to suit your intentions. Warming filters include all 81 and 85-series filters, and cooling filters include all 80 and 82-series filters.

When using cooling, warming, and other color filters with digital cameras, it’s important to set the White Balance to a setting close to the ambient color temperature, i.e. Daylight, Overcast, Tungsten, Fluorescent, etc., and avoid Auto WB, which will intuitively try to correct, according to its own parameters, the mood and tone you’re trying to establish. Auto WB may not render results that are in agreement with your personal vision.

I’ve heard landscape photographers talk about Enhancing and Intensifying filters. What makes them so special?

Enhancing and Intensifying filters are modified to cut some of the orange portion of the color spectrum, which results in higher saturation levels in reds and cleaner, less muddy interpretation of earth tones. They are especially popular for photographing fall foliage and landscapes.

I’ve seen photographers using red, green, yellow, and other color filters. Aside from making everything look red, green, yellow, etc, when should I consider using color filters?

While color filters do make everything look red, yellow, green or whatever color you might place in front of the lens, their most common use is for black-and-white photography.

When shooting black-and-white, the color of the filter being used blocks that color from reaching the film (or sensor) surface, which depending on the filter color and subject matter, can drastically change its tonal qualities. As an example, shooting through a yellow filter better delineates clouds against blue skies. Orange filters further darken blue skies and make the clouds pop more, and red filters darken blue skies even more and make the clouds pop out most dramatically.

Green filters on the other hand, are effective at improving skin tones in black-and-white portraits.

What are color-correction filters used for?

Color-correction filters, also called cc filters, consist of cyan, magenta, yellow, red, green, and blue filters. Each of these is available in 10% increments and is used for modifying or correcting the color balance of mismatched or irregular light sources. The need for cc filters is not as great in these digital days as it was in the time of film. Nevertheless, they are still used by many photographers who would rather correct their images at the time of capture.

As with warming, cooling, and other color filters, it’s advisable to avoid the Auto WB setting on your digital camera when using cc filters and instead choose daylight, overcast, tungsten, fluorescent or whatever setting is closest to the ambient lighting conditions under which you’re working.

Are there filters other than the glass screw-on types?

Aside from the glass screw-on filters most photo enthusiasts and pros depend on, there are also polyester, gelatin, and resin filters, which are used for both creative as well as technical applications. Usually square or rectangular in form, these filters are most commonly used with filter holders or matte boxes that fit in front of the lens via screw-in or friction mount filter holder adapters. The filters are dropped into place in slots that keep the filters flat and parallel to the front lens surface in order to maintain optimal image quality.

Are polyester, gelatin or resin filters better than glass filters?

It depends on what you mean by "better." If you mean sharper, some of these filters, especially the thinner resin and gelatin filters—depending on the brand and material—are optically purer than glass. They are also lighter to transport, and if you plan on purchasing an entire series of filters, these alternatives will be less expensive than a comparable set of glass filters.

These alternative filters are also handy if you have lenses with differing filter threads. All you need is a single set of step-down rings, starting with the largest thread down to the smallest size, to go along with the filter holder. (These same step-down rings can also be used with screw-in glass filters if you are using lenses with differing filter thread sizes—there’s no need to purchase multiple sets of filters.)

The downside however is that non-glass filters are easily damaged and in the case of gel filters, near impossible to clean when smudged by an errant fingerprint. So if you do go this route, be extra careful when handling them and by all means invest in a box of disposable plastic or cotton gloves.

What are slim filters?

Slim filters have narrow profiles and sometimes lack threads on the forward side of the filter ring. Slim filters, which are available in almost every filter size, are designed for use with lenses featuring angles of view wider than about 74°, or the equivalent of a 28mm lens. By utilizing a thinner retaining ring, the filter is less likely to vignette the corners of the frame. Depending on the make and model, many kit zooms require thin or slim-mount filters.

What other types of filters are there?

There are many types of creative and technical filters available for pros and serious enthusiasts alike. Included among them are filters that produce prism and star-like patterns, filters for close-ups, diffusion, infrared imaging, as well as contrast control. Their creative applications are up to you!

The Takeaway

  • UV / Haze and Skylight filters protect the surface of your lens against scratches, dust, moisture, and fingerprints, which in the long term can harm the lens coatings. UV / Haze and Skylight filters also minimize atmospheric haze, which results in better overall image quality. Protective filters also keep dust, moisture, and fingerprints at bay, but are not as effective in cutting through atmospheric haze.
  • The difference between an inexpensive filter and a pricier one has to do with the quality of the glass (the costlier filter most likely contains optically purer and thinner glass), the quality of the anti-reflective and color coatings and retaining ring (better filters have brass rings instead of aluminum).
  • Polarizing filters reduce or eliminate distracting reflections from the surface of glass, water, and other polished surfaces, darken skies, make clouds pop from their surroundings and saturate color by reducing stray ambient glare.
  • Polarizing filters are also available combined with warming filters, enhancing filters, and diffusion filters. Weather-resistant Kaeseman Polarizers are also available for use in extreme, damp climates.
  • Neutral density (ND)filters block varying degrees of light from striking the imaging sensor (or film) in order to shoot at wider apertures under bright lighting conditions, blur moving objects in the frame regardless of ambient light levels and allow for better exposure control when shooting video or film.
  • ND and Color Graduated filters darken or tint the top or bottom (or left and right) portion of the frame while leaving the opposite side untouched. They are useful for equalizing exposures of scenes containing extreme lighting variables on opposing sides of the frame, as well as adding an element of drama to an otherwise good, but not great, image.
  • Enhancing and Intensifying filters are useful for intensifying the color-saturation levels of reds and other earth tones, making them desirable for landscape and foliage photography.
  • CC filters allow you to incrementally adjust the color levels of your cyan, magenta, yellow, red, green, and blue channels.
  • Although most photographers rely on conventional glass screw-in filters, lens filters are also available as square and rectangular filters made out of polyester, gelatin, and resin. These filters, some of which are optically purer than glass filters, require holders and extra levels of care when handled.
  • If you plan on using one filter on several lenses, you should purchase a slim or thin version to better ensure it won’t vignette the corners of the frame when used on a wide-angle lens.

Items discussed in article


Recently purchased a used Nikon 500mm f/4G. Came with a 81A 1.2x MRC filter. I don’t like the warming effect of the filter. Colors are better with no filter at all, obviously, in the filter holder and it’s a bit sharper. I think a new filter is in order before I sent the camera and lens out for micro alignment. Optically speaking, is there a difference in a Nikon NC filter vs a XS Pro Nano (007M)?With the price points being relatively close between the two. My goal is maximizing clarity and sharpness of the camera and lens hence the micro alignment. 

Both the Nikon Neutral Clear Filter (52mm) and the B+W 52mm XS-Pro Clear MRC-Nano 007 Filter would be compatible for use in the slip-in filter holder included with the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 500mm F4G ED VR Lens.  Both filters are clear multi-coated filters, so neither have an effect on the image and should have similar performance.  I will state that the Nikon filter was designed for use with the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 500mm F4G ED VR Lens and is made from the same optical glass as the elements used inside the lens, so I would recommend the Nikon filter as that is the one the engineers had in mind when designing the lens' optical design, but both would work; I can't state that you would see a major difference between either filter, so it would be personal preference.

I'm using a Sony NEX-7 to record videos of a DJ setup with a mixer that has two lighted VU meters.  The VU meters in the recordings are light blobs, i.e., the action of the VU meters, which I'd like to capture, is not at all discernible.  After reading the article, I'm still unclear about which type of filter might help or solve this issue, if at all.  Thanks for any insight.

Unfortunately, a filter would not particularly help you in your situation.  The best thing to do in your situation would be to add light to your scene, either using a flash (for still photography) or a continuous light (for both video and still photography) to add light to the mixing console.  The issue is the difference in light, with a bright VU meter that is overexposed and a dark console that is underexposed.  The difference in exposure value of the lit VU meter and the un-lit mixing board is too far apart for the dynamic range of your camera.  As such, adding light to the mixer board would be the recommended solution.  A filter will not add light to the shadow area of the mixing board.  If you are looking for a filter that may help slightly, you can look for a filter that reduces the contrast of the scene, such as a Tiffen Ultra Contrast 3 Filter.  I do not think this is the best solution, but it would be the filter solution I would recommend if so desired (or used in combination with supplemental lighting).  Either adding light from a flash, from continuous light, or from a reflector bouncing light onto the mixing board would be my recommendation for your described shooting situation to reduce the dynamic range between the VU meter and the darker mixing console.

I own a Canon 1500D, which lenses should I have in my bag, any recommendations?

I am from India

Which filter you choose to purchase will depend on the type of photography you capture, as well as whether you are shooting digital still images, still images on film, or video capture.  One filter I often recommend to everyone who photographs images outdoors would be a circular polarizer filter.  Circular polarizer filters remove glare from non-metallic items, such as grass/foliage, water, glass, paint, wood, etc.  By removing the glare, it will have the appearance of increasing color saturation and contrast.  Also, depending on your direction in relation to the sun, a circular polarizer can also deepen the blue color in the sky on blue days.  It does remove between 1.5-3 stops of light from your camera, so it is primarily used outdoors (think of using them as sunglasses for your camera, and use them in the same situations you would use polarized sunglasses).  For other filter recommendations, we would need to know what you are shooting.  You can e-mail us at [email protected] with your shooting needs/desires, as well as the filter thread size of the lenses on which you wish to use the filters, and we can give more recommendations based on your planned usage needs.

I've got a Nikon Z50 and use it for video (artistically). I'm in southern California, where it's bright bright bright. So I'm looking for an affordable filter solution. I shoot in manual modes (focus, aperture, etc.). According to the article I should get an ND filter, but I'm not finding them easily for this camera. Any suggestions? Alternatives? I haven't yet used the camera outside in broad daylight.

You can definitely use a variable ND filter on your Nikon Z50, but the right one will depend on which lens you're using there. We invite you to contact us via Live Chat on our website today until 8PM ET so we can go over your options in greater detail. 

Thanks Kirk. A search on your site got me to the Tiffen 46mm Digital Neutral Density Filter Kit as well as the B+W line.

I'm presently using the 16-50mm kit lens, 46mm.

Looking for a slim good protection filter for Canon RF600mm....would it matter if it was UV or clear?

If using the filter just for protection, the B+W 82mm XS-Pro Clear MRC-Nano 007 Filter, BH # BWCXSP82 would be an excellent option with a slimmer ring. 



Hi. Looking for a lens filter to just protect my 70-210 f4 Tamron lens. I want my image to look exactly the way I shoot the shot as if I didn't have a filter on. Which one would you recommend? UV or clear filter in this case?? Could you recommend a few (like 1-3) for the brand Hoya, Tiffen, and B + W to help my decision before purchasing?? 

A clear filter would do fine for simply protecting your front lens element without any change in the image quality. The following choices from Hoya, Tiffen and B+W would all fit your particular lens, with both the B+W and the Hoya options offering a multi-coated surface:

  https://bhpho.to/3bG7xzD  https://bhpho.to/2Roa8rh https://bhpho.to/3...

Hi Kirk/ B&H,

I'm unable to see the complete link for the 3rd recommendation I think is the Hoya???

I apologize for the delayed reply and that the link didn't work for you. Here is one that will work for the Hoya filter: https://bhpho.to/3v43Ryo

Thanks for writing such a clear, comprehensive article! I just bought the Nikon Z 24-200 lens and am looking for a good protective filter but something between the $130 Hoya & the $10 cheapo. Any recommendations? 

The Hoya 67mm UV Haze NXT HMC Filter, BH # HOUVN67 would be a suitable protective filter at an affordable price.



I have the Tamron 15-600mm lens 95mm is the filter size.  I just want one to protect the front lens glass.  What do you recommend?

My shooting is mostly landscapes and wildlife in the mountains and national parks.

An excellent filter at an affordable price point would be the Chiaro Pro 95mm 99-UVBT UV Filter, BH # CHT99UVBT95.



excelente matéria sobre os filtros, muito útil..

Muchísimas gracias! Estamos felizes que o artigo tenha sido útil para você.

493 / 5000

I was told that the glasses located in front of the camera sensors are already anti-UV treated and that it is therefore unnecessary to use such a filter from now on. Can anyone confirm this?

The idea of protecting the front lens is only valid for manual lenses such as Leica, Voigtländer and other old lenses. Today, if the autofocus lens is impacted, even before the front lens is damaged, there is a good chance that the internal autofocus system is damaged.

Most digital camera sensors do have some amount of UV filtration to protect the sensor from UV light, though there are a few digital cameras that may still allow UV light into cameras, and a smaller number that allow both UV and infrared light into the cameras (these usually have hot filters or UV/IR blocking filters to correct colors from being altered due to the UV/IR light).  That being said, it is less necessary to use a UV filter to reduce UV light from entering the camera unless you are shooting at high altitudes where extra UV reduction can still be beneficial.  UV filtration is more so important when photographing with film.  However, in reply to your comment about protecting a lens only applies to older lenses is not quite accurate.  Protection can refer to more than just impact damage.  A filter used on the front of the lens can protect your lens from scratches from dust/dirt on the front optical element of your lens, and can protect your lens from oils such as those from fingerprints from damaging the coatings on lenses.  While some newer lenses are starting to feature Nano coating which helps make the lens easier to clean and repels oil/water, a filter can add additional protection from these elements, and would apply to both older and newer lenses.  That being said, whether or not you choose to use a UV or protection filter comes down to personal choice.  Some photographers prefer the additional benefits offered by a UV filter, while some purists feel that adding any piece of glass in front of the manufacturer's designed lens formula will reduce some image quality from the image, and they prefer not to use filters at all.  As stated, this would come down to personal preference, and I would add to use the best quality filter in your budget for your chosen application to reduce any negative effect filtration may add to your image.

This was a very informative article , thank you. Is there an adapter I can use to fit filters to my Panasonic Lumix DMC Zs100? 

Unfortunately, there are no adapters that will allow filters to fit the Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS100. We're very sorry. 


I recently acquired a load of Kodak Wratten Gelatin Filters, but I am looking for a way to mount it on my lens. How will I go about doing so?

The LEE Filters Gel Snap (3x3"/4x4" Filter Holder) for Lenses up to 82mm, BH # LEGSK can hold 3 x 3" Kodak Wratten filters.



I was given a 81-A 1.2x MRC filter. What do I have and what does the 1.2x signify? I believe it's a warming filter. 

The 1.2X designation would refer to the filter factor, which is the amount of light that is being blocked with the filter attached. 

What about filter strengths?  For example, 'cooling' and 'warming' filters come in different strengths.........A, B, C.   Is an 82A stronger or weaker than an 82C?

As you go higher in letter, the color temperature goes further to the cooler side.

I'm looking variable ND filters for the Tokina 11-16mm F2.8 (not a fish eye with 77mm filter size) and Sigma 16mm F1.4 (with step up ring to 77mm) to shoot video on my GH5S. Since this is a wide angle lens, i read that there could be problem of vignetting. I would like to find affordable ND filters with hard stop. I was looking at K&F Concept brand. Which models could you recommend for my use?

If you are looking for an affordable variable neutral density filter with hard stops, the K&F Concept ND2-ND400 Blue Multi-Coated Variable ND Filter (77mm)​, B&H # KFBMCVFND77, should work for your planned usage needs.

I need a filter that will reduce the glare of my eyeglasses when I record video.  Which type should I get?

If you are referring to a filter for use when photographing a subject in front of a camera, a polarizer lens on your camera may be beneficial for your usage needs.  However, some instances of reflection/glare may require cross-polarization (using a linear polarizer filter on your light fixture at a 90° angle to the polarizer on your lens.  While this should be able to eliminate most glare from glass, do note if your subject is moving, the angle of polarization will also change.  As such, you may either try to just use a polarizer on your lens and understand you may have some glare if the subject is in motion, or you may have them remove the lenses from their glasses, remove the glasses altogether, or position the lights at an angle where they will not reflect on your subject's lenses.

I have an ultra wide lens - Sigma Art 14 mm 1.8f, and I’m worried about damaging the glass. Are the any protective filters for this kind of lens? (Given how round it it’s).

I am now starting up a YouTube channel and replacing my existing camera and glass with equipment that is better at shooting both photos and videos.

So by the time I get the UV, the Polarized, ND filters and maybe a set of macro for a couple of pieces of glass. Should I just invest in a good Filter mounting system (the Conklin system was popular when I was shooting film)? It just seems like it would be a faster way to swap the filters between lenses especially if I went with something like the Tameron lenses that try to keep all the lenses in a given line the same diameter so I would be using the same filters across most of the lenses.

I am asking because I assume that having the UV, and then adding the ND or Polarizing without removing the UV filter would cause and/or add to much distortion to the image.

Hey Andrew,

You are correct - you don't want to stack filters in this manner. UV filters are best used alone. This is because the key benefits of UV filters are incorporated into other glass filters including Polarizers and ND filters - plain window glass eliminates 99% of the UV from the scene.

As for filter choices, read the reviews and invest in the best glass you can afford.


It was really a nice article to read, thanks for that. I am not a pro-photographer nor a videographer. I have an application where I need to record the night road traffic on a highway. Imagine that the camera is positioned on a stand on the divider of the highway. The problem with the recording is that, due to the bright headlight of the vehicles, the recording is not good enough to be analyzed later. All I see is lot of bright lights passing through the roads. SO I was looking for a solution to this issue. I want to reduce the glare coming from the headlight or may be completely remove the glare and record the vehicle as much as possible. Would a polarization filter help here or is there any other sophisticated filter alone for this purpose available ? Or may be an anti-glare lens camera may be ( I am not sure if any such camera is available or not though ). I would really appreciate if you could support me. Thanks in advance.

Unfortunately, the issue you describe is more of an issue of both exposure and dynamic range rather than glare.  As you are shooting at night, you need a longer exposure, a brighter lens, or a higher ISO setting to let more light into the camera to expose for the ambient lighting.  However, when a bright headlight enters the scene, your exposure setting would overexpose the image.  If you set your exposure for the headlights, then the background and ambient lighting will be underexposed.  The dynamic range between the headlights and the background is too wide to get both in the same scene.  The best solution I can recommend would be to expose for the background, and try to position the lights so they do not directly strike the lens of the camera.  If the camera is at an angle to the traffic you are trying to record, using a lens hood may also help block light entering the lens at an odd/oblique angle.  While polarizers do help eliminate glare, direct light is an intensity issue, not so much a glare issue.  While a polarizer may reduce some of the glare, it will also reduce your exposure, causing you to use an even higher ISO setting, which may increase sensor noise in the image, or an even lower shutter speed, which may introduce motion blur into the image.

I have 77mm Tiffen variable ND filter and I want me all lens to fit this filters on it. Is it possible? 

I have some of my lens list sigma 35mm,24mm canon 24-105mm,85mm 

While you do not list the full name of the lenses you own, if you own the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens for Canon EF, B&H # SI3514C, it uses 67mm filters.  The Sigma 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens for Canon EF, B&H # SI2414DGC, uses 77mm filters.  All three Canon 24-105mm lenses also use 77mm filters.  Canon has three different 85mm lenses; one uses 58mm filter threads, one uses 72mm filter threads, and the last one uses 77mm filter threads.  For the filter thread sizes listed above, you would need the Sensei 58-77mm Step-Up Ring, B&H # SESUR5877, the Sensei 67-77mm Step-Up Ring, B&H # SESUR6777, and the Sensei 72-77mm Step-Up Ring, B&H # SESUR7277.  If you happen to have different filter thread sizes, it would be best to e-mail us at [email protected] with the full name, B&H number, or the filter thread size of the lens you own so we may find the correct step-up ring for your lens’ filter thread size.  (You do not need a step-up ring with your lenses that have 77mm filter threads already on the front of the lens).

Hi! I have a canon 5D mark iii with three lenses: 50 mm 1.8, 24-105 mm f4, and 70-200 2.8. I have two questions. One, I will be traveling to Maui, Hawaii in a month - what would be the best filter(s) to capture it's waterfalls, and the tropics? And 2, what filter in general would be best to capture images of people in Times Square, NY at night? Would a polarizing filter allow me to capture both the subject and bring out the colors of the background lights? Most images I take are washed out with all the light and can't seem to capture both subject and buildings perfectly, thank you!

Shooting something like a waterfall and a tropical environment may require two types of filters, one being a circular polarizer to enhance the colors in the image and other being a neutral density filter, which will allow you to shoot at a slower shutter speed in brighter conditions while smoothing out the water.  A good option in this case is to use a drop in filter system such as the NiSi V5 Advanced Filter Kit B&H # NIP100AKIT. The kit will give you the necessary adapter rings for your lenses along with the circular polarizer, solid ND filters and some graduated ND filters to help reduce brightness in the sky when shooting a horizon.


As for capture images of people in Times Square at night, a circular polarizer would not work as well since it’s mainly useful in bright conditions during the daytime. To bring out the colors while shooting hand held, you may need to use a higher ISO range and a fast lens like your 50mm f/1.8, so you can bring more light into the exposure. This would also involve setting the camera in manual mode for the most control.  

Hi! I just bought the Canon 100-400 f4 IS II USM. And of course I also bought a filter to protect the lens. I realized it was a UV-Haze that I had purchased. Now, I know there is mixed feelings about wether you should put a filter or not just to protect your lense. My only concern is, maybe I should have bought just a clear filter for protection, then again, a Haze filter might not be a bad thing, if I take pictures of wild life and animals. So my question is always the same, would a filter reduce the quality of the final result? If I want to protect my lens, should I change for a clear filter? Thanks

Hi Nadine,

Both a UV and clear filter can provide general protection for a lens. However, a UV filter would have the added protection against UV rays while a Haze filter will reduce the bluish cast you may have on a hazy, humid day.  Either way, it would not have a negative effect on your images. If you prefer not to have the UV protection at all, then a clear filter would be fine.

Right on! In my view people today are just plain lazy and do not want to work at their "craft", but expect to be "instant" experts without any basic understanding or putting in the hours and hours of practice. I remember starting out as a rank amateur way back in the "film" days and man it was expensive to learn because I screwed up lots of times. But, I got better, mistakes were fewer and I loved it. Digital is quite cheap as you can take hundreds or thousands of pictures and delete and start over using the same memory card.

Although I have been a professional photographer for over 20 years, in my early days I guess photography was in my blood. I grew up with a camera in my hands so I guess that's why I find it difficult to understand how so many people are absolutely clueless when it comes to the most basic photography knowledge. To address some of these questions, you have to use a little logic and reason, which should come somewhat naturally to intelligent individuals. I've seen people say that it's not necessary to use lens caps because their filter will do the job.  Well, if you spend $200 on a filter, do you really want to expose it to any kind of material that may scratch it? Of course not. Never use your filters as lens caps. That's incredibly lazy and just plain dumb. Another question that threw me for a loop was "I have a lens cap, so why do I need a filter?". Wow. I suggest that this person should sell or just throw away their camera. Filters are absolutely necessary if you want to take your photogrpahy to the next level.  If you are using your DSLR for movies, ND filters are not a luxjury, they're required in order to match your frame rate to the proper shutter speed. If you're photographing a waterfall on an extremely bright day, and you want the classic motion blur effect, you'd better have a good set of ND filters so you can knock down the ambient light in order to maintain a desirable shutter speed. 

I suppose I just don't understand why people are too lazy to read a comprehensive book on photography. Hopefully you can read, and books are incredibly handy for expanding your knowledge of a subject, so read a book on photography instead of asking strangers to answer your sub-amateur questions. The internet is a decent resource for learning, but you need to know enough about photography to know what questions to ask, and which questions NOT to ask. This country's citizens are becoming more and more ignorant about the world around them, even though they have the resources necessary to learn anything you could ever want on the internet. Regardless, when it comes to photography, buy a book that thoroughly explains both the theory and the practice of photography. If you feel that it's a waste of your time, I suggest you pursue a different hobby, like watching television all day. 

This may seem harsh and rude, but frankly, people need a kick in the butt to get their minds right. Read a book on the subject you wish to learn, and you'll be amazed at the results.  Some of you may need to read it a few times before it "clicks", but if something is worth doing, it's worth doing right. 

I just wanted to take a moment to stop and say, “thank you.” I do believe that the soapbox I step up in the most often these days is about the dumbing down of America. When I was growing up, if you wanted to truly learn about something, you researched it and (if you were really lucky), you also had someone to teach you along the way. Even without an instructor, though, you went to the library and checked out books or to the bookstore and bought them. It’s sad to me, that it seems, the more information that people seem to have readily available to them, the less likely they are to use it. 

Wow. A 473 word rant just to opine that lens filters are a necessity. You should also add 'Arrogant' to your "Grumpy Old Phot" handle, as that is what your diatribe reeks of.

I couldn't have said it better!

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