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Photography Question 
Aingeal M. Puirs


Does anyone use a filter on their digital camera? If so what and what is the pros of using it? Thanks.

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12/21/2005 1:19:52 PM

Bob Fately   Well, a polarizing filter can be quite useful in the right situation - deepen the blue of the sky, remove some glare, etc.

Also, there is something called the Expodisc - it's a filter in the sense that you slip in in front of the lens, but you don't take pictures through it. Rather, you use it to set the white balance in the camera so you don't have to do as much color correction later.

Filters that create funky effects, like kaliedescopic or starburst effects, might be of some value if you like that sort of thing.

THe filters you probably don't need to worry about are things like 81A warming filters or the blue filters used to allow for daylight film to be used under tungsten lighting - since the digital camera can adjust white balance (with or without the Expodisc or other measures) the entire concept of using color correcting filters pretty much goes away.

Oh, and then there's the war between the "use a filter to protect the front of the lens" camp and the "adding a filter just makes for more possible flare and optical distortion and isn;t that protective" group - but I won't opine on that topic.

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12/21/2005 2:29:42 PM

Kay Beausoleil
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/31/2004
  Aingeal -- I only carry a polarizer since going digital for the reasons Bob gave. And even if the white balance is wrong in the camera, you can correct it in Photoshop (Bridge) and probably in other processing software, too.

Many years ago, I suddenly converted to the "don't add extra glass" side of the protect-or-not debate, and took off the filter I was using. You guessed it -- the first time I used the lens naked was at a workshop. Getting into position before sunrise on a rocky beach, I tripped and put the most awful scratch on that lens because the hood had flipped off. I now use a good UV filter all the time. If you're incredible sure-footed, ignore this cautionnary tale.

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12/21/2005 3:09:43 PM

Justin G.
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/13/2004
  and don't buy a $800 lens and put a $5 hunk-a-junk on the front of it. lol. get a good B+H or Tiffen. reverting to the "you get what you pay for" rule.. haha

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12/21/2005 3:19:09 PM

Aingeal M. Puirs   Thank for the input. Where did you all buy your filters and what was the price range?

I am sorry to hear about your scratch, that's a bummer!

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12/21/2005 5:41:21 PM

Bob Fately   Aingeal, the prices of filters can vary widely, but as usual, you get what you pay for. The top brands of filters - B+W, Heliopan, Nikon - can run upwards of $150 or more for a polarizing filter (a lot depends on the size - which you want to match to the front of your lens). Tiffen and Hoya are at a slightly lower level, and there are lesser brands.

Polarizers are always more costly - be sure to get what's called a "circular polarizer" because the other, older type, a "linear polarizer" doesn't work well with modern camera auto-focus or metering systems.

As for where - of course your local store is a place - but by mail order I can heartily recommend B&H Photo in NY - they have everything (literally!) and their service as well as prices are fantastic. Their URL is

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12/21/2005 6:14:09 PM

Sharon  Day
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/27/2004
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  I use the polarizing filter, but I find neutral density filters very useful as well especially if you're wanting to shoot waterfalls. I also like the Singh Ray warming polarizing filter.

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12/21/2005 6:23:01 PM

David A. Bliss   I personally don't feel that digital should change the way you use filters. The polarizer was mentioned, and this one is especially important because there is no way to duplicate many of it's benefits in PS. The neutral density filter is one that might be necessary to slow the shutter speed down. I still almost always use a graduated neutral density filter on all of my landscapes, because I don't want to have to properly expose two shots and then combine them in PS, I would much rather get one shot done correctly. While there are a lot of things that can be done in PS, it is still better to try and get it perfect in camera.

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12/21/2005 8:44:53 PM

BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/6/2004
  I bought my circular polarizer from a local store in Spokane, WA. When I purchased it they actually looked it up in their computer and then gave it to me for a lower price then I would have gotten it at other places I looked at online. Their internet business is They have outstanding ratings at and great customer service. So if you are looking to purchase online I recommend them.

FYI, I purchased a Promaster circular polarizer. It is more contrasty than the Tiffen and similar in price.

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12/21/2005 9:54:16 PM

Aingeal M. Puirs   Thank you everyone. I will look into the online stores.

Another question. When shooting indoors what is the best way to avoid the orange cast, tungsten lighting, of a light bulb. My camera has several white balance settings. Would I be best to experiment with them?

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12/22/2005 1:34:26 PM

Bob Fately   There should be a white balance setting for indoors or something like that, I would think. Typical tungsten lights (normal lamps in a house, for instance) are 3200-3400 degrees kelvin - so if your camera doesn't have an actual indoor setting per se you could set it for about 3400.

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12/22/2005 1:40:07 PM

Aingeal M. Puirs   There is a tunsten and floursecent setting.

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12/22/2005 3:08:08 PM

Bob Fately   The tungsten setting is the one you want. The regular home light bulb we know and love has a filament inside made of the metal tungsten - thus the reference. Virtually all tungsten bulbs are of about the same color temperature - even the fancier tungsten halogen - so use the tungsten setting.

Fourescent bulbs, on the other hand, come ina wide array of hues - from sickly green to purple and more - so if you find yourself in a flourescent light situation you should set the camera to flourescent (duh) but it might not do the job completely - there still might be a color cast.

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12/22/2005 7:50:20 PM

Aingeal M. Puirs   Thank you for your help.

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12/22/2005 8:03:19 PM

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