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Old August 13th, 2003, 05:22 PM   #1
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What kind of filters to get for your camera?

Hey, i'm about to place a order at B&H for a few accessories, and I am wondering what kind of filters I should get for my camera. I know I am getting a ND grad filter for sure, but how strong of one should I get?? What about a polarizer? I know what they do, but are they worth using?

Also, what exactly does a "contrast" filter do?

Thanks...


EDIT - Yikes, most of these filters are much more then I am willing to spend, atleast for my little crappy camera. :D
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Old August 13th, 2003, 06:46 PM   #2
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Hi Alex.

I use a circular polarizer extensively. With one of these, you'll get a nice saturated blue sky and more cloud detail (instead of a white washed image - assuming your exposure is set properly) These filters are necessary for removing glare off of windshields, water, etc, allowing you to see through.

A lot of people use the Tiffen Soft F/X3 filter to give a softer image. This is especially helpful if you're using a camera that doesn't allow you to turn down the sharpness. (About any consumer camera won't have this option.) I have had success with Cokin's Sunsoft filter, and plan on getting a Soft FX3 soon.

To my knowledge, a contrast filter (particularly Tiffen's Ultra Contrast) gives you more detail in dark areas, without blowing out white areas. The good thing about getting a more balanced image like that is so manipulation in post will be better, because you have detail there to work with. Here's a quote from B&H about the 'Low Contrast' filter:

"Tiffen Low Contrast filters work by spreading light from the highlights to the shadowed and darker areas, leaving the bright areas of the image bright. The dark areas become lighter, enabling you to see more detail in the shadow areas."

Yes, they aren't cheap. One thing I've noticed about Tiffen filters is that they have a little weight to them. That usually means quality, and since Tiffen has been in the game for 60 years or so, and garnered a couple of academy awards, I pretty much trust them.

You mentioned an ND grad filter, which is excellent to have when shooting outdoors to keep from blowing out the sky. You can't go wrong with a regular ND. Something not too dark like a 2 is about average.

What kind of camera are you using? I think I read somewhere that you have a Panasonic 1/4", so I'd imagine it's a 37mm filter size. Am I right?

Assuming that it is 37mm, here are a couple of links to check out:

Video Intro Kit:
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/cont...=153144&is=REG

Photo essentials kit:
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/cont...=136003&is=REG
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Old August 13th, 2003, 07:33 PM   #3
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Dummy, does your Pana have 43mm threads? Like the other fellow mentioned, a polarizer I think is the next most useful filter after a UV. Most pro specialty filters start and go up from the 49mm thread size. A cheap option is to go with a Cokin adaptor.
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Old August 13th, 2003, 07:36 PM   #4
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Heh, 2 franks, well thank you frank, and frank.

Yes, my Pana has 43mm threads, BUT I am buying a 43mm to 37mm adapter for this WA lens I am buying anyway, so either size works for me.

Frank Ladner, thanks a lot, that helped. I think I am probably just going to get a polarizer for now....
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Old August 13th, 2003, 07:42 PM   #5
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Alex, I wouldn't go to a smaller threaded adaptor, unless you're planning on buying a Sony or some of the lower end JVC models. It's better to get the same thread size or larger (but not smaller). If you are going to do this, see if you can go to a shop and try it on your cam before buying. Which 37mm adaptor do you have in mind? The Tiffen is excellent.
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Old August 14th, 2003, 12:36 AM   #6
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This is a matter of endless debate on this board, but my .02 is that you will do fine with a linear polarizer. I have yet to see a need for a circular pola on a DV camera, and they are more expensive by nature.

ND grads are helpful if you do locked-off panoramic shots, but if you are shooting mostly handheld or plan to tilt during your shot, they won't be of much use. Panning is OK. Also keep in mind that your subject's heads must be kept out of the sky region also.

Ultra-cons are pretty tricky to use, they require some planning (I've posted about them before).

Of these, only the pola is a "set and forget" type of filter, although you do need to rotate them when you change shooting directions to make sure you have set the right amount of effect.

If you are satisfied with the soft look that you are achieving with your dual-layer post effect, you probably won't need a diffusion filter, either.
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