If You Are Doing Landscape Photography, Then You Might Need To Use Filters. Here’s How!
Many landscape photographers usually prefer to spend more time in the field to capture stunning photos with a single exposure rather than struggling with post-production techniques in order to enhance the photo. Well, at least a little bit processing technique should be implemented, but most of the work is almost done while shooting.
That’s when you should use filters as a necessary gear for your photography. But do you know the detail?
This great article talks about what you should know about filters for landscape photography.
Read through, check out the images and let us know about your valuable thoughts!
Despite unstoppable technological progress, unfortunately our camera is not yet able to see like our eyes, especially when it comes to dynamic range (the ability to see details in bright areas and dark areas at the same time). Surely we all remember the disappointment of our first sunset photo—our eyes saw a magic moment, but the pictures we got showed a white ball with black all around it.
Sure, at first we were quite happy with the idea of ??the silhouette, but soon we wanted something more.
Fortunately today there are several techniques to help our camera to see as we do, and in the end everything can be summarized in two categories: Digital Blending and Photographic Filters. Today we will talk about the second technique.
Before We Begin
Before we start, I want to answer a question I often hear: “why do you use filters instead of digital blending techniques.”
This is a bit like trying to find an answer to the age-old Canon vs Nikon debate, for me the answer is actually very simple: First of all, I really suck at post-production; and second (and I think most of all), I really love to spend as much time as I can in the field struggling to get my shot in-camera with a single exposure.
If you want to put a little bit of technique in this answer, as we will see later, it’s also because there are filter effects that cannot be reproduced in post-production.
Maybe this is not the best method, but it is the one I use, and I will now try to share the experience I’ve gained over the years in order to let you choose and use your filters to the best of their (and your) ability!
Screw-On or Slot-In?
In order to choose the filters that suit us best, it’s necessary to understand the different types of commercially-available filters.
The first great division that needs to be explained is between the screw-on filters and slot-in filters.
The screw-on filters are screwed to the thread in front of your lens. They don’t need additional mounting accessories, just a lens with a thread to allow filters to screw in. The only lenses that cannot use these types of filters are ultra-wide angle or fisheye lenses, where the curvature of the first lens element is very pronounced.
The biggest advantage of these kinds of filters is that they prevent leakage of light between the filter and the lens, a problem that may affect the slot-in filter (but we will talk about this later).
Almost all of these filters allow stacking one above the other to use them simultaneously, but this is not advisable for two reasons:
1. You will find that stacking is not practical in the field, because when you’re taking pictures, any changes you want to do, you’ll want to do them really quickly.
2. Stacking filters (or using thick filters) will introduce the issue of vignetting on wide-angle lenses. For that reason “Slim” filters are available—they lack of front thread in order to reduce thickness.
When you buy a screw-in filter you must choose the size according to the size of your lens. As you can easily understand, another disadvantage of this kind of filters is that you need one filter for every size of lens you own.
Tip: You can buy an adapter ring called a “step up.” This allows you to mount filters with a diameter greater than your lens. For example, if you have a lens with 82mm filter size and one with 77mm, with this adapter you only need to buy the 82mm filter!
The slot-in filters are the second big family of filters. The main characteristic lies in the fact that they cannot be screwed onto the lens, and instead require two special accessories: an Adapter Ring and a Holder.
The Adapter Ring is a special threaded ring that mounts onto the thread of your lens (the same place you install the screw-in filter). The purpose of this ring is to allow the Holder to be mounted on the camera, not to attach filters.
Slot-in filters (and the adapter ring and holder) are generally more expensive compared to the screw-in solution, but they introduce a few advantages that make the choice of this family almost mandatory for landscape photographers:
1. You can install many filters without having the vignetting issue
2. Replacing filters in the field is really fast and comfortable
3. Some slot-in filters are not available as screw-in
4. If you are using ultra-wide lenses you can still use filters with a special holder system
The most common slot-in systems support 100mm filters; these are designed mainly for DSLR with lenses from wide angle to telephoto. Recently, specially sized systems for mirrorless cameras and ultra-wide lenses have been introduced on the market, allowing you to use filters up to 165mm in size.
There are many manufacturers of Adaptor Rings and Holders, but I would certainly push you to focus on quality and longevity, so my suggestion is to choose between Lee, Formatt-Hitech, and Lucroit.
Since the filter systems above are anything but cheap, if you are just curious about the slot-in world or you just want to experiment with this solution, a good idea is to buy a Cokin system.
Tip: You do not need to have the Holder and filters of the same brand to use them together! It’s possible to use a Lee Holder with Formatt-Hitech filters and vice versa! You just need to keep in mind to use filters of the same size (e.g. you can use a Formatt-Hitech 100mm ND filter with a 100mm Lee holder). Yes, another parameter to check is the thickness of the filter, but they are almost the same for all brands and I’ve never found an issue on that.
As we finally know something more about the two main families of filters, let’s have a look inside them!
Read more at iso.500px.com to learn everything you should know about filters for landscape photography!