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Old July 3rd, 2004, 10:22 PM   #1
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plain-English filter advice

I'm an amateur videographer with a Canon Elura 50, mostly shooting family and friends in a variety of settings. I've searched 10 pages worth of filter threads but am still confused. I'd like to accomplish three things:

(1) Protect my lens with a permanently installed filter or protector of some sort. I hate dealing with lens caps and would just as soon replace a filter on occasion. My impression is that people often use UV filters for this purpose.

(2) Find a way to reduce glare in sunlit settings where I have no control over the lighting or the subjects. I'm not concerned so much with bright reflections (e.g. car chrome) as with softening the glare on the faces of subjects. It seems that people generally use ND or circular polarizing filters for this purpose, but I'm still confused as to which might be best for my situation, and which density would be suitable.

Canon sells a filter kit for the Elura which appears to include a clear lens protector and a .8 ND filter: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/cont...=259635&is=REG. Since the Elura doesn't have particularly good low-light performance, I was concerned that a .8 ND filter might be too dark for anything but the brightest sun.

(3) If possible, I'd like to leave the filter(s) on all the time so I can shoot spontaneously.

I realize that I might not be able to accomplish all three goals at once, but I figure I'll ask anyway in case someone has an idea.

Also, would there be an advantage to a UV filter as opposed to the clear filter Canon sells? Can a UV be used together with an ND?

Thanks for any plain-English advice you can give to a novice.
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Old July 4th, 2004, 04:51 AM   #2
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First you can use filters together, but the more you stack the
more quality you will loose and you add the chance of seeing
vignetting if you stack enough.

1) some people swear by protecting their lenses with a UV filter. Others don't. Keep in mind that any filter can create a bounce between the two glass surfaces and add weird optical "effects"

2) this to the best of my knowledge is not usually done with an ND or circular polarizer (more used to either make some reflective or see through it => primarely in glass and water). This is usually done with filtration on a "big" production. If you get a small filter you can put that up on a stand or have one or two people hold it up besides the face so it has a soft lighting (which is much more favorable) instead of harsh lighting with highlights.

3) that's usually not a good idea. Especially with an ND since you can just have too little light.
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Old July 4th, 2004, 12:35 PM   #3
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Re: plain-English filter advice

<<<-- Originally posted by Andrew Fowler :
(1) Protect my lens with a permanently installed filter or protector of some sort. I hate dealing with lens caps and would just as soon replace a filter on occasion. My impression is that people often use UV filters for this purpose. -->>>

I've heard of using a UV filter to protect the lens from scratching and I practice this myself. To me it only makes sense.

But I've never heard of anyone using a filter in place of a lens cap. I think you'd quickly end up with a scratched filter and crappy video. How do you propose keeping the UV from getting scratched?

Dennis Vogel
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Old July 4th, 2004, 12:51 PM   #4
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Well you may be able to prevent the UV filter from getting scratched, but it will certainly get dirty. Dirt and dust on filters is a big problem, especially with consumer camcorders and their small chips since they have a lot of depth of field (meaning that objects both near and far are in sharp focus). When you're shooting towards a bright light it will further accentuate any crud on the lens or filter. Nothing looks worse than a blotch in the sky that doesn't change as you pan the camera.

Unless I'm someplace where I'm really concerned about lens damage I don't use a UV filter personally. Like Rob says, it's just one more thing that can detract from the final quality of your image.

Keep your lens cap on at all times when you aren't actually filming. And you will need to periodically blow or wipe it off as well. Each time you put a filter on you should clean it also; if you're careful about handling and storing them this can be as simple as blowing it off with one of those brushes that has a squeeze bulb. Hold a filter up to the light and look closely; no matter how careful you are there will almost always be some dust specs, and those will be magnified on your video. Microfiber cloth, lens tissue and cleaning fluid are all cheap and should be standard equipment in your bag.

Does the Elura come with some sort of lens hood? If not you can probably buy an inexpensive rubber one that screws into the filter threads. This will also help your image by keeping stray light from bouncing around in the optics.
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Old July 4th, 2004, 01:01 PM   #5
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I should have phrased it differently: I prefer not to have to deal with a lens cap unless I'm putting the camera away. When I have the camera out, I prefer to leave the lens cap off so I can be ready for anything. This increases the risk that a UV filter might get dirty or damaged, but I'd rather deal with that than to constantly to fiddle with a lens cap (or forget that the lens cap is on). It's a small thing but it's my preference. I can always clean/replace a filter, but I hate missing shots.

I think I'll go ahead and get either the Canon set or some other combination of UV/ND filters. The UV seems like a given, and I can use the ND for those occasions when I know I'll be shooting in bright light. I was mostly afraid that the ND .8 might be too strong for a camera that usually needs all the light it can get.

Thanks to all for responding!
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Old July 5th, 2004, 12:12 AM   #6
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All good points, Boyd. However, I'm operating mostly as a hobbyist, grabbing the camera when the baby does a face-plant in the ice cream, etc. If I were shooting weddings, I'd be more concerned with the finer points (of course, if I were shooting weddings, I'd have a GL-2).

Just to show what I mean, today I had my old Elura 2MC out. I got distracted and it accidentally fell at least 4 feet to the floor - probably the 3rd time it has taken a hard fall (I once knocked it off the kitchen counter). With the weight of both the camera and the large battery, these were hard falls - hard enough to hear a solid crack at the moment of impact. When I picked it up this time, it was still running, the only discernible damage being a severely dented lens ring. One thing's for sure: the thing is built like a tank. I hope to be more conscientious with the new Elura ;-)

Thanks for your comments.
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Old July 5th, 2004, 06:45 AM   #7
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Maybe there's something about the Elura's lens cap that makes it difficult to remove? Most caps I've seen couldn't take more and a second to pop on or off. How could you forget that it's on? Don't you look at the LCD screen or viewfinder while you shoot?

I don't think it matters much whether you're a hobbyist or pro, eventually you'll be disappointed when the baby pix have a big blob of dirt on the lens. And if you don't take care of your camera it will not last very long. After enough bumping around and dirt inside the tape transport you'll start to get video dropouts which can make your tapes unusable.

You don't need to be a fanatic or anything, just use some common sense and protect your investment. Happy shooting!
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Old July 5th, 2004, 08:31 AM   #8
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I use mostly 2 filters:
1. A polarizer for most outdoor daylight shootings. It brings out vivid colors as it filters the glare off any shiny surface. Gives better green from tree foliage, deeper blue from sky, sculpts the clouds into clean 3D forms, and softens your subjects' skin and hair.
2. A Neutral-Density filter (N/D) to control the light before it reaches the CCD, on high-contrast situations. With a N/D filter on a bright day, you can set the iris 2 or 3 stops wider open to preserve finer details in a high-contrast picture. It can really make the difference between an amateur and a pro-looking image.

The idea of protecting the cam's lens with a U/V filter has its supporters, but on my cam, it creates more flares and smear effects than anything. So I prefer not to let it on. Anyway, it doesn't replace the lens cap because it won't take a shock like a rubber cap would.
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Old July 5th, 2004, 10:00 AM   #9
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<<<-- Originally posted by Boyd Ostroff : Maybe there's something about the Elura's lens cap that makes it difficult to remove? Most caps I've seen couldn't take more and a second to pop on or off. How could you forget that it's on? Don't you look at the LCD screen or viewfinder while you shoot? -->>>

No, nothing unusual about the Elura's lens cap - like I said, it's just a personal preference stemming from the fact that I'm often taking quick, unexpected shots and don't like having to worry about the lens cap, even for a few extra seconds. I'd just rather not deal with it in the middle of an event.

I've never had a particular problem with smudges or dirt on the old camera - I just thought that this time I might add a filter for some extra protection and perhaps get better images in the bargain.

Thanks again.
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