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Troubleshooting Lens Filters

Learn How to Fix Problems With Filters for Your Camera Lenses

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Troubleshooting Lens Filters

A variety of camera lens filters are available, including those pictured here, for as little as $40. (Compare Prices)

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The debate over whether camera lens filters are great tools for improving your photographic results seems to have no end.

Some photographers will rarely recommend that you use a filter on your lens, saying such filters cause more problems than they solve. Others will say that camera lens filters are mostly harmless, providing just enough benefits to justify their use in the right situations. Still others say filters are great tools when used in the proper manner and in the proper situations.

A variety of camera lens filters are available, depending on the task you need to achieve. Use these tips to make the most of camera lens filters and troubleshoot any problems.

  • Some of the different types of filters you can use include: Polarizing filters for reducing glare, neutral density filters for extending exposure time, UV filters for improving clarity (with film cameras), and warming filters and cooling filters, both of which change white balance.

  • When using a polarizing filter, you can change the direction and angle of your camera to increase or decrease the effect of the filter. So if you're struggling with a particular filter overwhelming your results, try changing the angle of the camera to the subject.

  • If you find yourself with blurry photos when using a filter, you can try a couple of things. Most of the time, camera shake is causing the blurry photos, because the filter cuts down on the amount of light hitting the image sensor so much that the camera must reduce the shutter speed. It can be especially difficult to shoot fast action scenes when using a filter. Try using a tripod to keep the camera still and avoid camera shake. In addition, make sure that the lens filter is free of dust and smudges, which could cause blurry images.

  • Using polarizing filters with a wide angle lens can cause problems with uneven coloring. If you are using a wide angle lens and shooting a photo with a lot of sky in the frame, you’ll have a greater chance of noticing this uneven coloring problem. You’ll have to remove the filter or use a weaker filter if you notice this problem.

  • The benefit of using an ultraviolet filter with a digital camera is a subject that's sure to cause an argument among experienced photographers. Because the image sensors in digital cameras aren’t as sensitive as film, digital cameras aren’t affected by UV problems. However, some digital photographers still choose to use the UV filters because they provide protection for the lens from scratches. You then can replace the UV filter if it becomes damaged, rather than undertaking the expense of replacing the lens.

  • Use some care when attaching a filter to the threads on the lens. Don’t force the filter onto the threads. Make sure the threads are lined up before attempting to attach the filter.

  • Try to avoid touching the glass on the filter, as it’s easy to leave fingerprints on the filters. The filter may attract lint or dust as well, and all such materials may appear on your photographs. Clean the filter as you’d clean the surface of a lens with a dry, clean microfiber cloth.

  • Avoid leaving the filter in direct sunlight or exposing it to high temperatures, as the heat could cause damage to the filter, leaving it unusable.

  • Some photographers choose to make use of lens filters sparingly, because of various problems. A common problem includes flares that appear on your image. You also may notice vignetting problems whenever you’re using the lens filter with a wide-angle lens. These problems are exaggerated when you’re using a poor quality lens filter. One way to spot a high quality lens filter is to find one that is made of optical glass.

  • If you stack filters, which means using more than one filter at a time, you’re going to see any impurities in the filters become magnified and noticeable in your final image. Don’t stack your camera lens filters unless you’re using the highest quality of filters that are available.
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