Are you a photography enthusiast searching for the perfect lens filter? With so many different brands and types available, it can be overwhelming to decide which one is right for you. That’s why we’re here to help. In this article, we’ll take you on a journey through the world of lens filters, from the basic concepts to the top names in the market.
But before we delve into the details, let’s first understand the importance of lens filters. These tiny accessories can make a huge impact on your photography, from reducing glare to enhancing colors and providing extra protection to your lens. With the right filter, you can take your photos to the next level.
So, whether you’re a seasoned professional or a beginner, sit back and let us guide you through the lens filter maze. By the end of this article, you’ll have a better understanding of the top brands to look out for, as well as which filters are best suited for your photography needs. Let’s get started!
- Lens filters can enhance your photography by adding protection, controlling for light, and creating special effects.
- The type of lens filter you need depends on the type of photography you do and the equipment you have.
- Polarizing filters can reduce glare in reflective surfaces, while UV filters can offer protection from ultraviolet light.
- Graduated neutral density (GND) filters and neutral density (ND) filters can control for brightness and exposure.
- Warming/cooling filters can change the color temperature of your images.
- Clear protective options can add a layer of protection to your lenses, while filters for special effects can help create interesting effects.
- Tiffen filters are great for cinematographers and video work, while Lee Filters offer a range of high-quality handmade products for a variety of photography types.
- Whether you’re a professional or a serious hobbyist, investing in high-quality lens filters can greatly improve your photography.
- Heliopan offers a broad range of lens filters that are perfect for beginners, pros, and those on a budget.
- Kenco Filters have a super varied range of filters that cater to astrophotography, drone shots, and beginners.
- B+W Filters (Schneider Kreuznach) is a German-made brand that offers the perfect blend of performance and affordability. They are ideal for those on a budget and those who value precision.
- Nikkor Filters are perfect for Nikon lens owners who need an extra level of protection at a reasonable price.
- NiSi Filters offer premium filters that are built for professionals, with a great selection of 100mm and 150mm systems and finely tuned carrying cases to go along with them. They are great for Sony and Fujifilm users and those who want a full filter system.
- Hoya Filters has the biggest collection of filters in the world, with a product line designed to tackle light pollution, making them great for astrophotographers and nature photographers.
- Canon produces a reasonable selection of filter options that are perfect for Canon lenses, especially for added protection.
- Opteka offers excellent budget filters, particularly for polarizing and protective products, making them perfect for beginners and those on a budget.
- When using lens filters, some compromise in image quality is inevitable, but the corrections made can actually improve your final results.
- Compatibility is key when choosing a filter, with diameter being the main measurement to look out for. Step-up/down rings can help make incompatible filters fit properly.
- The world of lens filters can be daunting, but it’s advisable to start with a budget option before branching out into more expensive options.
- A high-quality protective lens filter is strongly recommended, as it can save you money on repairs due to scratches, dust, and water damage.
In order to understand what sets each of these brands apart, it’s necessary to explain the different types of lens filters and what they’re used for. This section will run through the most common filter variants and bring you up to speed on their main pros/ cons.
Keep in mind that not all of these filters are useful if you’re using a modern camera. The type(s) that may prove beneficial for you will depend wholly on the kind of photographer you are and the equipment you’re already using.
Photography that captures a lot of reflective surfaces can benefit very well from a polarizing lens filter. This can be anything from landscape photography to photos of architecture and other man-made structures.
While editing can tackle a chunk of the glare that these subjects produce, using a filter on the day is a much better way to handle the root cause of the issue.
Back in the days when film photography reigned supreme, UV filters were super popular. They protected sensitive film from ultraviolet light when shooting. Without this protection, an unwanted blue haze could quickly enter into users’ photographs.
While digital cameras don’t suffer from the same UV sensitivity, these filters can still offer reasonable amounts of protection when used correctly.
Graduated Neutral Density (GND) filters darken one half (either the top or bottom) of your frame. This can be useful when one half of your scene is too bright for your camera’s film or sensor.
Say you’re capturing a scene on a particularly bright day. Without this kind of filter, it can be much harder to tweak your setup so that it’s properly exposed. This is one example where a GND filter is a great choice.
Neutral Density (ND) filters follow the same general principle of GNDs, only they darken the entire frame. This can be useful for a number of reasons. Anything from controlling for movement, better tweaking the exposure triangle, or controlling for excess brightness can be made easier with an ND filter.
As you may have already guessed, warming and cooling filters are designed to change the color temperature of your images. If you know you want a colder or warmer result, they can enhance your images with much less editing required.
They can also come in handy in certain lighting environments that affect your color temperatures in ways you don’t like.
Even the most premium lenses can scratch fairly easily. A small amount of sand or other debris can quickly damage your lens elements if they’re not adequately protected. A good clear protective filter can add a much-needed layer of protection for your equipment.
The best filter brands produce options with minimal optical interference.
This one is fairly straightforward. There are a number of lens filter brands producing filters that help create interesting effects for your images. This includes soft focus effects, split focal lengths, and many more creative opportunities.
This section runs through some of the biggest lens filter brands out there. Our reviews will touch on their main strengths, potential drawbacks, and which options you might like to choose for your own photography.
Read on to become a lens filter pro!
Link – here.
- Produces a range of lens products for the US market
- Big on cinematography and video work
- Broad range of filters designed for hobbyists and pros
- Has won Academy awards and Emmys
If you’re a cinematographer or regularly do video work, you may have already heard about this filter manufacturer. Tiffen produces a ton of excellent lens accessories including ND, contrast, and polarizing filters that are perfect for screen work.
The brand has been going since 1945 and has a great track record for producing phenomenal camera equipment. Their work has been so successful that they’ve even been recognized at both the Academy and Emmy awards.
- Video work in general
- Pro-level photography
Link – here.
- One of the very best lens filter brands in 2021
- Great for a huge range of photography types
- Handmade, quality products
- A range of architecture-ready products
For our money, this brand is one of the best out there for lens filters in 2021. They offer a stunning range of products for hobbyist photographers, cinematographers, interior designers, and much more. They prevail as one of the leading names in the industry.
If color accuracy and control is your thing, these guys are definitely worth checking out. They offer a number of excellent filters that can make it much easier to get the results you’re looking for. Their diffusion comparator app also makes a handy companion for interior designers.
- Interior designers
- Practically anyone who can afford them
- Pros or serious hobbyists
Link – here.
- Killer range of general use lens filters
- Great polarizing options
- Plenty of specialty filters too
- Operating since 1949
“Perfecting perfection” has been at the center of this brand’s ethos since 1949. In our opinion, this attitude really shines through in their broad range of accessories. If you’re looking for some good general use options, this company is a particularly good choice.
There are a fair few reasonably priced products to be found among the Heliopan catalog as well as some decent pro-level accessories. If infrared or other specialty filters are more your speed, they’ve got plenty of choice in this department too.
- Beginners looking for a good general use lens filter
- Pros who know which specialty products they’re looking for
- Those on a budget
Link – here.
- Super varied range
- Some great astrophotography options
- Prices for most requirements
From astrophotography to beginner’s accessories, there really is something for everyone with Kenco. Drone shooting in particular can be made much easier with a good filter from this brand. These filters are made to remarkably high standards and are trusted by professionals around the world.
If you’re a beginner, you haven’t been left out here either. There are plenty of more affordable options to choose from too. For entry-level filters, the Kenco line of “Air II” products is probably for you.
- Drone shots
Link – here.
- Fantastic balance of performance and price
- Range of polarizing, protection, ND, and close-up filters
- German-made since 1949
- Manufactured in house
Precision German engineering goes into every one of these lens filters. This brand is particularly good for polarizing and ND filters. If you’re looking to up your color correction game or better tackle bright outdoor environments, these guys are worth checking out.
A phenomenal level of value can be found in the B+W catalog. These accessories offer the perfect blend of both performance and affordability. Whether you’re looking to experiment and get creative or have very specific color goals, this is one of the best lens brands in 2021.
- Those on a budget
- Those who value precision
- Black and white filters
Link – here.
- Perfect filters for Nikon lenses
- Reasonable range of options
- Relatively affordable
- Nikon’s rich history of optical performance
Nikon is one of the biggest names in camera equipment – and for good reason. The brand’s line of filters are ideally suited to its broad range of camera lenses. Close-up, protective, and other options can all be found at fairly reasonable prices.
Just keep in mind that these products are designed for Nikkor lenses specifically. Your mileage may vary considerably if you’re using lenses from other manufacturers. You might want to look into a step-up ring if you’re set on going with Nikkor.
- People who own Nikon lenses
- Those on a budget
- Those who need an extra level of protection
Link – here.
- Premium filters built for professionals
- Great for Sony and Fujifilm users in particular
- Killer filter cases also available
If you’re a pro looking for something a little more premium, this awesome brand might be for you. They first made their name by producing excellent cinematography filters. They now stock a huge range of options mostly geared toward professionals.
For those who know they need options to cover all bases, NiSi offers a great selection of 100mm and 150mm systems along with finely tuned carrying cases to go along with them. While newbies might like to look elsewhere, pros around the world trust this brand every day.
- Sony and Fujifilm users
- Those who want a full filter system
Link – here.
- Seasonal options for all weathers and environments
- Great for astrophotography
- Massive selection of products
- Light pollution correctors are great
This brand stocks perhaps the biggest collection of filters in the world. Name a use case and these guys probably have a filter for it. Of particular interest is the manufacturer’s line products designed to tackle light pollution.
If you’re into astrophotography, these will definitely come in handy. Don’t worry if you’re just looking for budget options, there’s plenty of choice here for you too. The company’s Alpha line in particular is probably for you.
- Basically anyone (their catalog is huge)
- Nature photographers
Link – here.
- Perfect for Canon lenses
- Reasonable selection of filter types
- Great for protective options
If you use Canon lenses and are unsure where to get compatible filters, the company produces a reasonable selection of options that are worth considering. They’re especially good if you’re just looking for some added protection.
Keep in mind that these products won’t necessarily play nicely with non-Canon lenses. It all depends on your lens diameter. Read our section on step-up/down rings further down this page if you want to know how to ensure cross-compatibility.
- Canon customers
- Those looking for some added protection
- Pros who know exactly what they’re looking for
Link – here.
- Some excellent budget filters
- Plenty of polarizing options
- Perfect for newbies
We haven’t featured this brand for outstanding performance but for its incredible value. While the Chinese manufacturer might not win many awards for cutting-edge results, it is definitely a great option for beginners looking for an entry-level lens filter.
For polarizing and protective products in particular, this brand stands out. If you’re mainly looking to try out filters for the first time but don’t want to spend a ton of money until you’ve got some experience, give these guys a try.
- Those on a budget
- Those using budget cameras
We believe the lens filter brands listed above are some of the absolute biggest and best names in the industry. When doing your own shopping and research, it’s important to keep a few things in mind to avoid disappointment.
The reality is that some image quality will always be sacrificed when using a lens filter but please don’t let this discourage you from using them. A small decrease in quality on paper does not necessarily translate to a poorer overall image.
This is especially true when using filters to correct for excessive brightness or color temperature issues; the corrections you make can actually improve your final results. Just remember that a small amount of compromise on quality is inevitable with this kind of accessory.
So how do you know if a specific filter will be a good fit for your lens? The good news is that most lens filters are fairly universal. The main measurement to look out for is diameter.
It’s worth keeping in mind that some manufacturers do make proprietary filters for their own lens lines so it’s always worth double-checking to make sure. If in doubt, check the user manual for any product you’re considering or contact their customer support.
If the diameter of a filter is the same as your lens, though, you’re probably good to go.
If you realize your old filters aren’t compatible with a new lens, it’s not the end of the world. A simple step-up/down ring is what you need. They’re affordable accessories that screw on to the front of your lens to make incompatible filters fit properly.
The world of lens filters can be pretty daunting to the uninitiated. Pro-level options can easily run you hundreds of dollars. While professional photographers can really benefit from these products, you might be wasting your money if you’re new to all this.
Our advice is to start with a budget option first to see if it meets your requirements. As you grow as a photographer and become more familiar with what your specific needs are, then it’s time to branch out into the more expensive stuff!
Even if you don’t have any specific filtering needs as a photographer, we strongly recommend considering a clear protective filter for your work, especially if you take a lot of photos outdoors.
Damage from scratches, dust, and water can quickly ruin a lens if you’re not careful. A high-quality protective lens filter can save you hundreds of dollars on repairs down the line. The last thing you want to do is spend money on lens replacements after just a few months – trust us.
In conclusion, finding the perfect lens filter brand is a subjective task that depends on various factors. Your photography needs, equipment, and skill level will determine which filter is the right fit for you. However, it’s worth noting that investing in a low-cost protective filter can save you from expensive lens damage in the long run.
When it comes to selecting a lens filter brand, it’s essential to do your research, read reviews, and consider your specific requirements. By doing so, you can ensure that you purchase a filter that meets your needs and enhances your photography skills.
We hope this article has provided you with a better understanding of the different lens filter brands available in the market, their unique features, and how to choose the right one for you. Whether you’re a professional or a beginner, incorporating lens filters into your photography can make a significant difference in your images.
So, go out there and experiment with different filters to see what works best for you. Try out different styles and brands to find the perfect fit, and don’t forget to have fun while doing it. Happy shooting!