In the days of digital photography, it is often the view that filters are old-fashioned and unnecessary, but there’s a lot to be said for still using a filter to capture the best image in-camera.
Filters can be indispensable for capturing landscapes in extremely difficult lighting conditions, they can enhance colors and reduce reflections. Polarizing and ND filters can produce effects that are time-consuming or even impossible to replicate digitally. Don’t rely on Photoshop to add effects and rectify badly exposed image, have some fun using filters in the field to capture the best image in-camera. These are 4 of the most used filters that every serious landscape photographer should own.
UV filters are useful for protecting your lens from scratches, a lot of photographers choose to leave one on their lens at all times. They are essential when photographing in harsh conditions like when your lens is getting covered in sea spray and sand.
A polarizing filter is the most important filter you will own for landscape photography for useful for removing reflections on water making skys a deeper blue. It is worth investing in a good quality one, as cheap ones often do not have the same polarizing effect.
Graduated ND filters are used to help balance bright skies in landscape photography, these filters are available in both hard and soft graduations.
Hard – Best for defined/strait horizons, eg on the coastline.Available in strengths of 2, 3 & 4 stop
Soft – Best for more complex horizon lines eg a mountain. Available in strengths of 2, 3 & 4 stop
Reverse – Hard grad with soft fade upwards for shooting into the sun at sunset. Available in strengths of 2 & 3 stop
Solid ND filters are used to reduce exposure in landscape photography, often to capture flowing water and long exposures.
Most filters can be bought in both screw-in or slot-in types. Screw-in filters can be screwed directly to the thread on your lens, where slot-in filters require a filter holder to first be screwed into your lens to hold the filter.
Basic 84mm slot-in filter systems
The cheap and basic 84mm filter systems offer a good introduction to slot in filters but have some real drawbacks:
Pro 100mm slot-in filter systems
Available from leading brands like Benro, these filters are well made and have excellent optical quality.
New Zealand Photography Workshop is Sponsored by Benro Filters. The Benro is one of the leading brands of filters and what we recommend.