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Old January 5th, 2008, 06:57 AM   #1
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How many filters can you use at one time?

Let's say I want a uv filter, polarizer and ND filter that saturates the colors, that's 3 filters. I currently have a uv filter that stays on the cam at all times, can I then get a polarizer to put over it, then a nd filter to put over that? Is this a bad idea...how are you guys doing it?


I feel like those are the basic three I need to start with! From there I may want to add more filters. If this is a dumb question, I apologize, I am new to filters. In fact I haven't even bought them yet for my DVX100 because I don't know if it's at all possible.
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Old January 5th, 2008, 07:21 AM   #2
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I have to say that these 'colour enhancers' kind of leaked accross from still photography, and their results are quite subtle, and far more control is now available in post. I do like grads - I use both ND, blue and red to give a little interest when the sky is overcast - for some projects. You may well find your camera doesn't actually need the UV filter - and it's just doing a great job keeping the lense surface clean.

If you use too many filters, especially if they are cheaper/less optically perfect ones, is that the picture just goes soft. So much sometimes that it makes using an HD camera pointless. Having plenty of different filters is handy, but rarely will you need to use more than two - well, I never do, and the matte box only holds two anyway. If you do water stuff, then a polariser and a star filter work well, if you do snow, then the UV is useful, as is a blue grad. Some people get great shots with none at all. The worst thing when you're learning is wrecking the images with filter effects you can't remove in post.
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Old January 5th, 2008, 08:21 AM   #3
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Anthony, you don't say what size of chips you're filtering in this way. If you're using a tiny 1"/3 chipped camcorder then think very carefully about using even just one filter, and swear to me that you'll never use more unless somebody has a gun to your head.

OK, there are get-out clauses and the Polarisor and grads are exceptions, but even so they need to be spotlessly clean (impossible in field) and beautifully flagged or hooded. Three extra filters is 6 extra air-to-glass surfaces, all adding flare, all losing you sharpness.

And who needs a 'protective' UV there days? OK, you do when you're on the wind-swept beach all day long, but for 99% of us it's totally superfluous and simply undoes the good MC work of Zeiss, Leica and Canon.

tom.
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Old January 5th, 2008, 08:37 AM   #4
 
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Yeah, each surface(two per filter) adds a source of reflections and light loss. They all contribute to loss of contrast in the captured image. If you stack enough filters on there, vignetting will also occur at very wide lens settings.
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Old January 5th, 2008, 03:09 PM   #5
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I would say it really depends on the quality of the filter you are using... Im sitting here with a mercury filter set (cheapo) , and a Hoya (good quality) filter set in my hands..

One thing that differs those two brands is the amount of visible (white) light reflection they create. The mercury filters can almost be used as a mirror, which means.

A: They will reflect some of the light coming into the lens, making the image darker. (approx a quater stop for the UV-filter)

B: They will also reflect the light from the other side, which means that if you are shooting at direct sun light, some of the light bouncing of the front glass of the lens itself, will be reflected back into the lens from the filter, which results in flare, and in worst cases you can even see a mirror reflection of the lens in your recordings.

The Hoya UV-filter does not reflect very much "white" light and I would be pretty comfortable putting even 5-6 of them on the lens, without any noticeble light or image quality loss. Ofcourse there would be no point for doing so.

As for the dirt and dust, the only thing you have to worry about is the filter thats exposed to the air... The rest of them are sealed airtight. Just clean them before you apply them.

I can't ephesize enough to have atleast a UV-filter on at all times (if its a good one) Maybe it won't do any good to the image, but neither will it do any damange... On the other hand. Should you have a punk sticking his finger in the lens, or spill something nasty on it, or even worse hit something that would create a scrach, you will curse yourself for not having a protective filter on it.

It's like driving stockcar race without a bumper.
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Old January 11th, 2008, 10:51 AM   #6
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A UV filter will be not be necessary in the case of stacking filters unless you are at high altitude. A UV filter serves two functions in normal operation.

1) It protects the lense from damage, water, dust and any other outside influences. A high quality UV filter should be attached to all lenses to protect them and can also reduce the incidence of flare.

2) A UV filter also filters out UV Light. This is useful at high altitudes (above 6000ft or so) where UV exposure is increased significantly can impact the blue spectrum of your image.

In the case of stacked filters, lens damage is no longer an issue because most any filter you have on there will do that job. If you are shooting at high altitude, then you might want to consider leaving the UV filter on to reduce a blue cast in your image. More likely than not, the filters you are using will be affecting your image in other ways and the blue cast will be offset to begin with.

Ryan Avery
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Old January 11th, 2008, 11:05 AM   #7
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Ryan, I can't go along with your thought that, ''A high quality UV filter should be attached.... and can also reduce the incidence of flare.'' Adding any transparent object in front of your lens regardless of its cost (car windshield, under water housing, clear filter) introduces two more air-to-glass surfaces. This will up the flare levels - it's the law of the land.

A UV filter does indeed filter out UV light, but then again so does glass itself. In a typical zoom with 12 elements I contend you don't need another element - better to fine tune the white balance if blue is seen to be a problem.

tom.
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Old January 11th, 2008, 11:23 AM   #8
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Hi All
I've never seen the need to use a UV filter... with a decent lens hood or matte box, lens damage is a marginal danger... (I've never had any problem and I'm out shooting out doors on location 99% of the time). I do keep a good lens cloth handy though

Also a UV filter would take up a slot in the matte box which is generally used for polariser or ND grad in my shooting.

For me a well adjusted French flag is an essential piece of kit.. Despite shooting in France in bright light I've never had one case of flare while using it...

Finally as to stacking filters, my matte box only has two trays so two's tops... mostly a grad and a polariser as I said...
With screw on filters I'd imagine you'll get vignetting when screwing on two or more filters...

cheers
Gareth
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Old January 11th, 2008, 11:51 AM   #9
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I am not a fan of additional glass in front of the lens at all. It's ok for prime lenses or if you don't zoom, but once you're using zoom, you can see image degradation even with high quality filters like B+W. UV filters are not necessary for digital cameras, they only serve to protect the lens, but I wouldn't use them unless there were real dangers ahead like flying rocks or something.
A polarizer or grad ND are the only exceptions I'd make because you cannot imitate these effects in post (especially not the polarizer).
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Old January 11th, 2008, 02:42 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Heiko Saele View Post
I am not a fan of additional glass in front of the lens at all. It's ok for prime lenses or if you don't zoom, but once you're using zoom, you can see image degradation even with high quality filters like B+W. UV filters are not necessary for digital cameras, they only serve to protect the lens, but I wouldn't use them unless there were real dangers ahead like flying rocks or something.
A polarizer or grad ND are the only exceptions I'd make because you cannot imitate these effects in post (especially not the polarizer).
I agree... Which basically what I said in my post... my only addition would be to underline how important I feel a good French flag is to avoid flare with these filters...
I've been using the Schneider Trupol and Tiffen ND0.9 Grads... and don't see a huge amount of image degradation... and the effects are really good for scenics and around water, where I film a lot. No you can't reproduce them in post... but you can loose Magic Bullet and have even more fun...

Cheers
Gareth
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Old January 16th, 2008, 02:27 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Hardwick View Post
Ryan, I can't go along with your thought that, ''A high quality UV filter should be attached.... and can also reduce the incidence of flare.'' Adding any transparent object in front of your lens regardless of its cost (car windshield, under water housing, clear filter) introduces two more air-to-glass surfaces. This will up the flare levels - it's the law of the land.

A UV filter does indeed filter out UV light, but then again so does glass itself. In a typical zoom with 12 elements I contend you don't need another element - better to fine tune the white balance if blue is seen to be a problem.

tom.
Tom,

As usual (and the major issue with written threads over analysis) what I meant to express is that a good UV filter can reduce the incidence of flare if you have to add one on. Any time you add more elements you will indeed be introducing a new factor in the exposure. However, it is a proven fact that manufacturers do not add as much UV filtration as is required for outdoor videography. The reason for this is that they cannot manufacture a camera that filters out all UV light native in the camera because it may not be required in all shooting scenarios. They must find a balance that works for the best image performance in all scenarios. There are times when a UV filter is required for maximum image quality outside. The use of a high quality UV filter is necessary when shooting outside at higher altitudes and other scenarios where UV light is an issue.

The use of matte box or other shade should be the first priority when outdoor shooting. The concept of shooting the lens bare in theory and I often do so myself but there is a time and place for all and UV filtration is certainly not outdated. HDV requires even more careful and proper application of the tools available to us.

Ryan Avery
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