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Old May 8, 2006, 11:38 PM   #1
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I know this is more a general question...but considering my fz30, I though i will post here.

style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #000000"All you experts out there, can you provide some insight into all the different filters available (uv, polaroid...) and give indications on when to use which filter?

style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #000000"Some info on where to buy them cheap would also do wonders!



Thanks!

-kdadi
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Old May 10, 2006, 12:34 PM   #2
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First, filters you no longer need: the various color correction filters that you needed with color film are completely unnecessary in digital photography because you can set your color balance as necessary.

Second, the original reason for UV filters is pretty much a thing of the past -- film was quite sensitive to UV light, and would get exposed in a way that did not capture the image the photographer thought [s]he was seeing. In particular, the image would look hazy, especially if it was a shot up in the mountains. Digiital cameras are, for the most part, massively less sensitive to UV light, so you don't have this problem any more. You may have a haze problem, but you see the same haze that the camera does digitally.

It is a "religious issue" as to whether or not to use a UV filter to protect your lens. Some folks insist on them, as "cheap insurance." Others can't abide the idea of placing two more reflective surfaces in the path of the camera. But, either way, there is very litttle FILTERING reason to use a UV filter any more..

Probably the most widely-used filter on a digital camera is a polariziing filter. This can cut through visible haze for you and can cut down on glare from reflective surfaces and make clouds "pop" and water more transparent. I used to use polarizing filters all the time with B&W film. However, I personally find them very hard to use with color -- they skew the chrominance as well as the luminance in a way that I have been having a great deal of difficulty taming. For folks who like artificial appearance in their photos, this is not that big a deal. But it is a rare photo taken with a polarizing filter that doesn't LOOK like it was taken with a polarizing filter. And, with panoramic views, you tend to get very different polarizing effects across the sky because of varying angles to the sun. To me, such shots have pretty much the same slip-shod lookas poorly-stitched-together multi-shot panoramas. But I'm in a minority on this view.

The filter that I love and use the most is a graduated neutral density filter (GND). This is a filter that is dark at one edge, andfades to clear by the middle of the filter. Its use is to compensate for the limited dynamic range of a digital camera. If you are shooting a bright sky and a darker foreground, for example, this will allow you to capture the foreground image at appropriate exposure without blowing the sky out to a white mass. GNDs come in different opacities. The most common one is 0.6, which means that the dark edge is two full camera stops darker than the other half of the filter. You need to be a bit careful, because some GNDs are not gradual -- they have a sharp transition between the two halves of the filter. These are generally less useful than the ones that fade from edge to center gradually. Also, some GNDs are colored filters, These are for film that requires color correction. Some folks use these with digital cameras for making artsy skies and the like. But, if you want to crap on the image like that, you can do it in PhotoShop with a lot more control.

Neutral density filters are the next most common filter. These are uniformly-dark filters, and are used to allow you to slow down your shutter speed for artisitic effects. For example, if you want to get that "cotton candy" blur on a waterfall in bright sunlight, you may need to use an ND to damp down the light enough to shoot at a slow shutter speed. Often, you can do the same thing just by adjusting your ISO on a digital camera, but not always. And, with the panny, you don't have much ISO range to play with.

Star filters are used to make those special effects where light point-sources (like Christmas tree lights) seem to have an 'X' of light coming out of them. They're pretty specialized beasts, and you can simulate the effect in PhotoShop if you like.

There are various "soft focus" filters that are often used in portrait photography, to hide skin imperfections. Again, this kind of thing can be done in post-processing with better control, to my mind.

A good place to look for filters is Adorama. They have a wide selection and good prices. The main things that affect a filter's price are:

Is it water glass or ordinary green glass? If water glass, the filter will not have a color bias of its own and is more expensive. This is actually less of an issue for digital cameras, because white balance will remove the filter color bias pretty well.

Is it coated? If the filter is subject to direct sunlight, it will reflect like a son of a gun if it isn't coated. In general, if you cannot control whethter it will be exposed to direct sun, you want both surfaces coated. This makes for an expensive filter, and you really don't want the lens to be exposed to direct sun if you can help it. But if you have to shoot a shot like that, coating is essential.

Is the fitting brass or aluminum? Brass is more expensive. This is of value if you are shooting in an environment where temperature changes are to be expected. If you are at the ski slopes, and take your camera from the warm ski lodge to the cold slopes, you may find that the aluminum filter is hard to remove because of the differential thermal expansion of the aluminum. Brass is just easier to use in this context.

I'm sure other people have a lot of other considerations on quality factors, but those are the ones that come readily to my mind. The main thing is to recognize that more expensive filters are more expensive for a reason, but not necessarily for a reason that matters to your usage.


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Old May 10, 2006, 8:53 PM   #3
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Thanks Tclune

it seems I will look for a GND filter, for there is a big issue with limited Dynamic Range of FZ, and it could improve many landscape photos
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Old May 11, 2006, 2:26 AM   #4
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I made a polfilter test!

Look here: http://www.iqlo.dk/Kukkerne/Hans/Billeder/Polfilter/


Med = Filter

Uden = No filter
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Old May 11, 2006, 3:06 AM   #5
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thank you very much for the detailed explanation...I would go in for a GND filter for my FZ30.
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Old May 11, 2006, 4:31 AM   #6
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this may be a dumb question but, I have a FZ7, can I use ND filters or polarizing filters form any manefacture or do i have to use panasonic only?

if I buyany52mm ND filter will it work?
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Old May 11, 2006, 9:22 AM   #7
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[email protected] wrote:
Quote:
Can I use ND filters or polarizing filters from any manufacturer or doI have to use panasonic only?

if I buyany52mm ND filter will it work?
Filter threads are standard size. Any mfr will do as long as the size is right. The differences between filters have to do with the kinds of issues I mentioned. FWIW, the "big names" in filter are Hoya and Tiffen. But each company makes a variety of filters at different price points, so you can't just say, "I bought Hoya, so I got a filter that's guaranteed to be good for me." If you want some serious support in purchasing a filter, you might consider http://www.2filter.com, The Filter Connection. They can help walk you through your needs, either by the FAQs on their web site or by corresponding with them.

One other thing, WRT polarizing filters, you don't need a circular polarizer with the Panasonic cameras. You can get either circular or linear polarizers.
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Old May 11, 2006, 9:53 AM   #8
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I have read the good stuff above, and was thinking of getting a UV filter for my FZ7(mainly to protect the lens - I'm anal ) My local camera store has two that I am considering:

Panasonic one -->http://www.vistek.ca/details/details...=CameraFilters

Tiffen one -->http://www.vistek.ca/details/details...=CameraFilters

They don't currently have the Panasonic one in stock but that is the one that I would prefer to get. Does anyone have an opinion on which is better. I don't think these particular Tiffens are coated are they?

Thanks.
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Old May 11, 2006, 12:43 PM   #9
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I have a couple of observations, though no specific experience with either choice:

1. My worry about the Panasonic is that they call it a Haze/UV filter. Normally, a filter billed as a haze filter is not limited to the UV range. You may find that the haze filter will extend down into the visible range. Typically, they end up adding a yellow cast to images, because they suppress some of the blue end of the chromatic information. If so, I would be less than enthusiastic about this filter as a lens protector.

2. If I were getting the Tiffen one, I would opt for the one they designate "MC," for multi-coated. The Panasonic filter is a multi-coated filter, which does a good job at flare reduction and is usually a better match for the optics of your lens.

FWIW


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Old May 11, 2006, 1:49 PM   #10
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tclune


Nice, detailed and concise overview on filters where they apply to digi cameras! And, like you, have found that polarizers in wider images are problematic with varying degrees of sky effects...:sad:
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