Tips from the pros – Camera filters

Today we present a new DMS blog feature – Tips from the Pros. This feature will present simple, free (or inexpensive) easy-to-implement actions that can instantly turn the casual photographer, videographer or musician into one performing on a professional level. These tips are based on some of the regular activities and behaviors we pros use when on a shoot, edit or recording.

Today we discuss the simple camera lens filter. Whenever a member of the Digital Media Services crew purchases a new camera or lens, one of the first accessories we purchase is a set of basic lens filters. In fact, we generally include at least a protective lens filter as part of the purchase of any new camera. A protective lens filter is an inexpensive clear lens cover that is usually attached to a camera lens by screwing it on to the threaded end of the barrel. Small, inexpensive point-and-shoot cameras that feature lenses that retract into the camera generally don’t offer the option of a threaded lens. Digital SLRs and point-and-shoots with larger lenses almost always offer threaded lenses.

Tiffen Filter Set

The protective lens filter, first and foremost, protects your actual glass lens from getting scratched, dirty, wet, blurred by fingerprints or otherwise damaged or rendered incapable of capturing a clean, clear image. A protective lens filter can be had for as little as $5, yet they can save you hundreds when (not if) something damaging ever comes into contact with your camera lens.

Shooting in the woods and a tree branch swipes across your lens? Your protective lens filter saves the day. Taking photos at the beach and someone slings wet sand at your camera? Yup – the protective filter is there for you. Capturing video footage of your kid’s soccer game and some overly-excited parent knocks the camera out of your hands? At least your lens is safe. And after your protective lens filter absorbs the damage, throw it away and replace it without a second thought.

Cracked Lens Filter

Cracked lens filter saved the day

For those who want to think a little more creatively, additional lens filters are available for a myriad of purposes. A ultraviolet filter can help reflect UV rays and provide more clarity and color to your photos. Many photographers and videographers use a UV filter as their full-time protective lens filter because they like the enhancement it offers for all of their photos and videos. A polarizing filter is one that reflects variable angles of light which can eliminate reflections and glares. A polarizer is great for shooting through water and glass and for shooting reflective surfaces. There are litterally hundreds of different types, brands, sizes and qualities of camera lens filters. We’ll talk more about other types of creative filters in a future post.

Tiffen Filter Kit

Tiffen Filter Kit

As far as purchasing a lens filter, you simply need to know the diameter of your lens (usually given in millimeters), which can be found in your camera’s documentation or often inscribed right on your lens, and whether or not your lens accepts screw-on type lens filters. For instance, the Nikon D3000 is a popular DSLR camera that accepts any 52mm lens filter accessory. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ35 is a popular point-and-shoot camera that offers an optional lens filter accessory for adding 55mm lens filters. And it works the same for video cameras. The Canon VIXIA HF21 HD camcorder accepts 37mm screw-on lens filters. You can buy a filter set for the Canon that includes a UV protective filter, a polarizing filter and a warming filter for $50. I frequently purchase Tiffen filters and frequently purchase from B&H Photo-Video-Pro Audio but there are many photo and video retailers offering lens filters.

So start acting like a pro! Go get yourself an inexpensive protective filter or a filter set and start calling those non-filter users amateurs!


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11 Responses to “Tips from the pros – Camera filters”

  1. Junita Belmore Says:

    Where can I subsribe my email to your blog? So that I will know everytime you post something new.

    • digitalmediaservices Says:


      Thanks for your interest. WordPress offers an RSS feed of each blog so you can subscribe to the Digital Media Services blog by using any standard RSS feed reader. Perhaps a simpler way, if you’re a Facebook user, would be to become a Fan of the Digital Media Services Fan Page (by clicking the “Like” button) where we post a short message any time a new blog post has been published.

      List of available feed readers:

      Digital Media Services Facebook Page:

      Again, thanks for your interest and don’t be shy about posting comments or suggesting topics!

  2. Valeri Cruel Says:

    Love your site man keep up the good work

  3. Edward welch Says:

    hi i’m off to New York in April and was wondering what filters and lenses you’d recommend for there? I currently have a Nikon D5000 and a UV protective filter a 8 star filter, a circular polariser filter and a 18-52 mm VR lens.

    • digitalmediaservices Says:


      First off, if you’ve never been to New York City, you’re going to love it. So much to do and so much to photograph. Just be aware that NYC officials are pretty serious about needing permits for commercial photography so it’s usually best to not draw attention to yourself with tripods, assistants, etc. unless you have permits or permission from the venue you’re photographing. On the other hand, the city is full of tourists and visitors so everyone is taking pictures. As I said, just don’t look like you’re a paid professional and you should be fine.

      April should be a beautiful time to shoot; Central Park will probably be turning green again and the sun will be coming out more often. It’s still rainy and cool at times so be prepared for that. Of course, the winter there has been pretty unusual this year with lots of snow and freezing days; not sure if that will have an extended impact into April.

      As far as camera filters, my first recommendation is to stop by B&H, which is probably the world’s largest photo/video/audio shop. It’s huge and has everything you can think of plus a whole lot more. And they have great prices. If you’re like me, you could spend half a day in there. They’re located on 9th Ave at 33rd St.

      You sound like you have a pretty good start with a UV, polarizer and star filters. You might want to consider various levels of neutral density filters to help you keep an open aperture in bright sunlight. Also, if you like to shoot horizons, you might find some graduated color and graduated neutral density filters useful. If you do black and white, some contrast filters might be useful. If you’ll be shooting in Central Park a lot, some color enhancing filters might be something to consider.

      Of course, some of these effects can be duplicated, simulated or done better in post, depending on your Photoshop skill level. The good thing is that filters are generally not that expensive of an accessory so it’s something good to experiment with.

      Good luck on your trip and be sure to let us all know how it goes!

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