Digital technology has reduced the number of filters photographers need, thanks to the ease of replicating their capabilities with any photo editor. However, the best filters for cameras still have a power that cannot be imitated, at least not easily, with a simple edition.
Neutral density, graduated neutral density or circular polarization filters will still have an impact on your images. The idea is not to choose anyone, because some can skew colors, add reflections and, in extreme cases, affect the overall sharpness.
So what are the best filters for DSLR cameras and without a mirror? We chose the leader in each category, in addition to the most convenient economic.
The best neutral density filter
Breakthrough X4 Neutral Density (ND) filters are praised for having a minimal impact on colors. It is somewhat difficult to find in ND filters, since all to some extent skew the colors. They provide a color closer to neutral, although for any ND a good idea is to establish a white balance with the attached filter or later with a RAW file.
Available in versions with three, six and ten light reduction stops, it is designed with high quality Schott glass, eight layers of anti-reflective coating and a brass ring. In addition, a waterproof coating makes cleaning easier.
The reduction of the light entering the lens for prolonged exposures or bright openings without a large color bias has a cost. A 52mm circular and six stops costs about $ 150 dollars or the 100 x 100mm square is worth $ 190 dollars, and you should also buy a filter holder.
The Hoya brand is known, but many of the ProND filters cost less than $ 100 dollars. Without affecting high-end options, Hoya is a midpoint between spending a lot and getting an image that you should correct
It is designed with high quality glass and uses special coatings to create consistency between the different stopping options of the same series of filters. The ring is made of a piece of aluminum.
The reviews suggest that it does not perform as well as the Breakthrough, but because of its value it reaches an optimal point between quality and budget. A 58mm five-stop filter costs about $ 40 dollars, while the larger ones are between $ 80 and $ 90 dollars.
Variable Neutral Density Filter
ND PolarPro. Peter McKinnon Edition
PolarPro is known for its filters for drones and action cameras, but it also has some of the best filters for DSLR and mirrorless cameras. The ND variable filter, backed by photographer Peter McKinnon, deserves to be among the best camera filters due to image quality and design.
Variable ND filters, with several light reduction stops, tend to suffer more quality problems, such as color and an odd X-shaped slug if they stop too much, especially wide-angle ones.
However, PolarPro produced favorable colors. In five stops, with the maximum light reduction setting, it reached a more neutral color. The other levels achieved more warm colors with a slightly higher saturation. The vignetting was minimal.
one of two
The filter is constructed with quartz glass and an aluminum ring, which rotates to adjust the stop level of the filter, although an aid plug prevents photographers from rotating it too much, avoiding the X-shaped pattern.
With $ 250 dollars for the 77 mm filter, it is not economical, but its design and quality are worth it.
The Tiffen variable ND filter provides more alternatives for a single product: it has a range between two and eight light reduction stops. With these filters it is better to focus with a low stop, since at higher levels you damage the autofocus.
Tiffen built an alternative with CoreColor glass and a wide black aluminum ring to combat vignetting. Users praise the minimum color emission, although they warn of streaks and more intense colors in darker settings. As the filter moves slightly away from the lens, some parasols are incompatible.
Although not perfect, the Tiffen offers good quality at a lower price than high-end models. Smaller filters cost less than $ 100 dollars, but larger ones exceed that value.
Best graduated neutral density filter
Lee ND Grads
Lee is one of the most respected brands for rectangular filters and his ND graduates are often praised as the best camera filters by landscape photographers. Available in groups of three, for hard, soft or individual transitions, their ability to balance exposure to the sky is recognized, without dramatic colors or reducing sharpness.
In addition to remarkable image quality, they are easy to use. As they are rectangular, photographers can adjust the shot exactly where the gradation begins and ends.
Unfortunately it is one of the most expensive. The set of three costs about $ 280 dollars and the transition lasts a similar price, plus another $ 82 dollars for the filter holder kit. Individually they cost about $ 113 dollars.
Conkin P Series Kit
Landscape photographers should not spend hundreds to gain more control over the light. The hard and soft edge kit of the Conkin P series sells for approximately $ 70 dollars and includes a filter holder, two hard edge ND filters and one soft edge.
The Conkin kit produces a little more color than the high-end options, but neither is incorrigible with a later edition.
The filters are made of resin and not glass, so you should handle and store them carefully. It also uses cheaper materials for its filter holder. It is a good option for amateurs and beginners who work with low-end equipment.
The best circular polarizing filter
B + W XS-Pro
When subjected to laboratory tests, all circular polarizing filters do a proper job of controlling the reflections in the image. However, those of higher level achieve it without limiting the light so much. The B + W XS-Pro lets 99.5% of the light pass, according to the company.
Photographers praise these polarizers because they let in more light and because they reduce the color levels of cheaper filters. It is designed with multiple coatings that reduce glare and fog, in addition to protecting it from damage.
The B + W XS-Pro circular polarizer is ideal when you need more light to enter, in addition to reducing further processing. Available in different sizes, the 77mm one will cost you less than $ 100 dollars.
A low-cost circular polarizing filter can still make a big difference and the $ 20 dollar Tiffen is one of the best camera filters in that regard. Despite the lowest price, it will help you make the sky look more blue, and improve or eliminate reflections.
It has a lower manufacturing quality than more expensive options and may suffer from vignetting. Because it blocks more light than B + W, it is also not ideal for working with reflective glass or other indoor surfaces.
It's not perfect, but few accessories for $ 20 dollars make such a dramatic difference in your photos like the Tiffen. The 82 mm ones cost around $ 50 dollars, although the larger ones will cost a little more.