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The lens may be the most important part of a camera, because it forms and focuses photographic images and also plays a key role in the composition and perspective of these images.  A filter, affixed in front of a camera lens, can help protect the lens from damage.  Some filters are used to alter the reality of a photographed scene.

camera lens filters The primary types of lens filters are Ultraviolet (UV) filters, polarizing filters, neutral density (ND) filters, and graduated filters.  A UV filter can improve contrast in outdoor photos.  A polarizing filter can reduce surface reflections and profoundly affect the color saturation and contrast of a photographed image.  An ND filter is used to reduce the amount of light that passes through the lens, across the whole image, while a graduated filter is used to darken one side of an image, such as a bright sky.

Filters are used mainly for film cameras.  For digital cameras, digital color correction software has removed the need for most lens filters.  Only the effects of UV and polarizing filters cannot be produced digitally.  Most photographers purchase a UV filter to protect their lens and a polarizing filter for its ability to produce dramatic visual effects.

Filters are available as round, square, or gelatin filter systems.  They either slot in or screw in.  Screw-in filters are round, made of glass, and have threaded rims sized to fit a specific size lens.  These are a better choice if you use the filter regularly or use a UV or clear glass filter to protect your lens.  They are used mainly for color balancing or correction.  Close-up filters (also known as close-up lens adapters) are also screwed together and are an inexpensive way to capture close-up photos.  Slot-in filters are more versatile and fit in a filter holder attached to the front of the lens.  The same holder is used for all the lenses, and multiple filters can be used at the same time.  Square, slot-in filters are plastic and are best for gradient or graduated color effects.  Gelatin slot-in filters are made from gelatin and are used for color correction or balancing.

Leading camera filter manufacturers include Tiffen, Cokin, Lee, and FormattThe Filter Connection is an etailer of camera filter systems.


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Camera Filters - Camera Filter Selection Guide