Faster, convenient and more efficient—that’s what today’s digital camera accessories make possible. Accessories have become an integral part of photography, as they can make shooting easier and your pictures better. Outfitting your gear with the latest technology and design isn’t just form, it’s function.
Digital Camera Filters Filters are a necessary addition to your pack. If you’re looking to saturate colors and add contrast to your images, then shooting with a filter on your lens will help you create a digital file that’s closer to your desired end result. There are software packages and plug-ins available that can fix or enhance your images, but that could take hours of digital darkroom work. Starting with a quality image in-camera always is the best route.
It’s important to have a good filter, as it will affect the overall quality of your image. Generally, hard-coated filters made from high-grade optical glass, like Heliopan filters, which are made from Zeiss glass, guarantee sharpness and contrast while maintaining color fidelity. Low-grade filters, even when placed on high-end, expensive lenses, can lead to a soft image, unwanted vignetting or distortion. Skimping on a filter only will cancel out your lens excellence.
Polarizers and neutral-density filters are essential. Polarizers can do a lot to enhance your image. They decrease the amount of light that enters your lens, which deepens the color of your sky while removing glare and reflections from shiny, smooth surfaces like glass and water. Polarizers also saturate colors, giving you a more dramatic image.
There are two types of polarizing filters available, linear and circular. There’s an ongoing debate that linear polarizers are more effective, but circular polarizers should be used with any camera that has a through-the-lens metering system, or auto-focus. The reason is that both of these systems use semi-silvered mirrors to filter light. If that light is linearly polarized through your lens, it can render the metering or autofocus mechanisms of your camera ineffective.
Singh-Ray has an interesting variety of polarizing filters that combine the effects of a polarizer with some extra selective color boosters. The Gold-N-Blue polari-zerpunches dramatic blue or golden-yellow tones, while the Red-Ray polarizer accentuates the red areas of your image.
B+W makes a similar filter called the Redhancer, which jazzes up reds as well as ambers, browns and oranges. This filter doesn’t incorporate a polarizer, but you can combine filters to achieve the benefits of both.
Another essential filter for your bag is the neutral-density (ND) filter, which reduces the amount of light that enters the lens. By limiting light, you can shoot with a slow shutter speed to show motion or a wider aperture to blur your background.
NDs are great for bright days when camera settings can’t adhere to your needs. Singh-Ray’s Vari-ND filter is versatile in that it provides you with 2 to 8 stops by simply turning the filter rings as if you were focusing.
Graduated ND filters balance contrast in your scene. If you have a bright sky or background in your image and a dark foreground, a graduated ND filter will bring the extreme contrasts of your image into a balanced exposure.
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