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A friend of mine just got a new Nikon D90 and has pestered the heck out of me requested that I write an article about filters. (Hi, Dys! Your wish is my command. Ha!)

There are many, MANY kinds of filters, and many, MANY different brands of filters, that allow for a near-infinite level of camera/lens/filter combinations to achieve some pretty incredible photographic effects. Note that not all filters fit all lenses, so be sure of your lens size/compatibility before purchasing.

Protective Filters: Examples of protective filters are Ultraviolet (for protecting the lens from UV rays and removing haze from photographs), Sky Filters (neutralizes blue tones of outdoor photography, keeps skin tones neutral, protects the lens glass), and Clear Filters (used primarily for protecting the lens surface from scratching and other damage).

Polarizing Filters: Circular Polarizing Filters are used on auto-focus camera/lens combinations, and Linear Polarizing Filters are used on non-auto focus cameras. Both types deepen the intensity of colors and reduce glare. They’re also great for use when photographing the night sky and the stars.

Neutral Density Filters: These filters reduce the light without reducing the color quality of a shot – these are great to use when you’re concerned about over-exposing all of or part of your shot. They come in different densities of gray (levels of light blockage) and are also available in gradients.

Special Effects Filters: There are as many filters that create special effects in your shots as there are, well, types of special effects. A Star filter creates a “star flare” effect for any point of light in the shot – and comes in different numbers of flare “points”. A Split Field filter makes half of the picture close up and half of the picture normal distance. A Rainbow Spot filter creates a rainbow effect out of any spot of light. A Dual Image filter doubles the exposure of the shot being taken. A Sepia filter casts the shot in sepia tones. A Center Spot filter creates a clear spot in the center of the photograph, while the rest of the photo is in softer exposure. A Diffusion filter gives a soft exposure to the overall photo. This is by no means an all-inclusive list – just Google “Special Effects Lens Filters” and browse away!

Colored Filters: You can get pretty much any color of filter to create a colored cast over your photograph. They’re also available in half-color and gradient, as well as fluorescent (to remove the yellowish tint cast by fluorescent lighting).

Warming/Cooling Filters: Warming filters create a warming effect to the photograph by increasing reds and decreasing blues. Warming filters are labeled as either 81 (less warm) or 85 (more warm) A, B, and C (gradients of the effect). Cooling filters create a cooling effect to the photograph by decreasing reds and increasing blues. Cooling filters are labeled as 82 A, B, and C. Filters labeled 80 A, B, and C are used for color photography in artificial light and increases the overall color “temperature” of the photo.

I hope you’ve found this information to be useful! If you have a favorite lens filter, please share with us in the comments!

Photo Credit: “Stars Stars Stars” by L S G on Flickr Creative Commons.

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