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Filters and Hoods


Pete

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Hi all,

Recently I've been looking into purchasing a polarising filter and lens hood for my Canon 500D in order to try to eliminate rogue light getting into the picture. Has anyone had any experience with using polarising filters and lens hoods? Do they make a noticable difference? Do any of you use any other sort of filters to enhance your photos?

Thanks,

Pete

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Yes Pete, I find both very useful, especially the hood, which is on my 500D lens(es) all the time.

When I first got into photography, I amassed a "stack" of 49mm filters, all screwed together, with a male and female screw cap at each end. That way, about a dozen were about the same size as a standard lens. Now though, almost all are redundant, with colour film and the ability to produce most of the effects afterwards, digitally.

The only exceptions to this that I've found are the Ultra Violet filter, and the Polariser, that you've mentioned. These can reduce haze and glare and capture detail that would otherwise be lost when the picture is taken, so could not be replicated digitally afterwards.

The polariser can really enhance some scenes, and the effect can be easily monitored (with an SLR) when rotating them for adjustment.

For hoods, I don't think much of the rigid cutaway types that are usually free with lenses. I prefer the cheapo "3 way" rubber hoods that can be bought for less than a fiver from China on eBay. They are very well made, with accurate male/female threads and can be folded in for storage in the bag without removal, or extended to two forward positions, depending on the focal length of the prime or zoom, to avoid vignetting.

Even though all modern lenses are "multi coated", I find the contrast and colour rendition is still better with a hood. :)

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Hi Pete

I use a hood most of the time, and purchased the genuine Canon ones for both my lenses from ebay. I think they came from Hong Kong or China, are the genuine article, and cost about half the uk retail price. Each hood is tailored to the focal length of the lens to ensure you do not unintentionally get corners cropped off your photos when shooting at wide angles.

Filters is a bit of a mine field, but I was guided by Bruce, who I consider to be something of an expert in these matters, and they have proved almost essential for landscape work. You can get cheap filter kits, such as Cokin, which I started with, but I quickly realised the quality of these is pretty poor. I'm not too sure how the polarisers fair, but with regard to the neutral density grad filters I bought, they leave a horrible magenta cast on the image.

I went for the Lee filter system in the end, but they are horribly expensive, though all hand finished and of excellent quality. I have a polariser and six ND grad filters (0.6, 0.9 and 0.9 in both hard and soft graduation). If you only buy one filter, go for a polariser as for sky, water, reflections, glare etc they are indespensable, and are about the only filter effect you cant properly replicate in editing software.

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Mark's post has reminded me that I didn't mention filter manufacturers.

I have no qualms about buying Chinese lens hoods, because they have no optical components to worry about, and are a purely physical device that either shades the sun lens or doesn't .

It's very different story with filter glasses though. Ebay is swamped with buy it now "filter kits" for popular digital cameras, consisting of Pola, ND , UV & warmtone). They are probably of very poor quality for the money being asked. I say probably, because I have to admit I've never bought any of those, though I have used cheap "unbranded" filters in the past.

This is even more crucial with the regard to the most important filter, the polariser. Cheap brands are not only of poor optical quality, but the polarising coating is far less effective than on known quality brands.

I therefore always buy Hoya or Kenko Polarisers (the Jap name for the same manufacturer).

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It doesn't make any sense to me to buy a cheapo rubbish filter and stick it on the front of a piece of quality glass you've paid decent money for. As has been said I'd avoid cheapo Ebay filters.

That said, some of the more expensive filters are priced such that you'd need to be a thoroughly committed photographer to spend that kind of cash. That's essentially why I don't (yet) own any filters myself.

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They're the ones I started with Jon. To be honest, if using the ND grads singlely they're not too bad, but try doubling up and look through them and you'll see what I mean. Bruce warned me about the colour cast, but to try out filters on a budget, it was the only option available. I sold them on ebay for a reasonable sum, so didn't lose too much when I upgraded to the Lee's.

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Thanks for the advice everyone. I've just ordered a hood and a circular polarising filter. Once the sun makes an appearence I'll try to post some photos both with and without the hoods and filters to try and illustrate the results.

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