Last updated: August 9, 2021

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Welcome to our big lens filter test 2021. Here we present all the lens filters we have tested in detail. We have compiled detailed background information and added a summary of customer reviews on the web.

With this, we would like to make your purchase decision easier and help you find the best lens filter for you.

You will also find answers to frequently asked questions in our guide. If available, we also offer interesting test videos. Furthermore, you will also find some important information on this page that you should pay attention to if you want to buy a lens filter.




Summary

  • A lens filter is the right choice for you if you like to experiment and achieve effects for which you would have to invest a lot of time in image processing.
  • The three lens filters you will probably use most often on your photo trips are the ND filter, the polarising filter and the grey graduation filter.
  • You can get high quality lens filters for around 80 Euros. We would advise you not to buy very cheap plastic filters.

The Best Lens Filter: Our Choices

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying a lens filter

For whom are lens filters recommended?

We recommend buying a filter if you are already very experienced with DSLR cameras and your lenses. You don't need an effect filter to get to know your camera and to learn how to take photos yourself.

Lens filters are screwed in front of a lens and are there to optimise the image quality. (j0e/pixabay.com)

However, if you are already an advanced photographer and want to capture certain image situations, you can optimise them with a filter.

So you should really know exactly what a filter does and when you should use it before you buy several filters at random. We explain all this in the section "Filter functions", where different lens filters and their functions are explained.

Did you know that you can use your mobile phone to create quick effects when taking photos?

If your phone screen is clean and reflective, you can simply hold your phone under the camera lens. This will give you great effects. Because your image section gets great reflection effects. Just give it a try! After all, practice makes perfect.

How much should I expect to pay for lens filters?

Lens filters can be bought for as little as 5 euros. The costs for very well-made filters are several 100 euros

We recommend that you buy a high quality filter, because every filter deteriorates the quality of the image. Those made of plastic deteriorate the quality more than those made of glass.

If the filter offers you added value because it has a function that your camera does not have otherwise, you will not be bothered by small losses in image quality. However, if the filter is very cheap and poorly made, it will not convince you in its function and will only reduce the quality of your picture.

So when buying, look for high-quality workmanship and also avoid buying lens filter sets.

These are also usually very cheap, but often just throw money out of the window.

Decision: What types of lens filters are there and which one is right for you?

Basically, you can distinguish between x types of lens filters:

  • Screw-in filter
  • Plug-in filter

Due to the different connector systems, the respective mode of operation of these lens filters can be different. This results in advantages and disadvantages for both types of construction. Depending on the intended use and preference, one or the other filter is more suitable for you and your camera.

The following sections briefly explain the differences between the systems so that you can decide for yourself which lens filter is right for you. In addition, the advantages and disadvantages of the individual filter types are described in more detail and clearly compared.

It should be mentioned here that the different types of filters, such as polarising filters, colour filters, ND filters and grey graduation filters cannot be compared with each other. A comparison can only be made with the same type of filter. That is why we decided to take a closer look at the connector system.

The connector system can have a decisive influence on the final result and thus the quality of the shot image. You should also think about which filter you want to buy for your camera before deciding on a particular system.

How does a screw-on filter work and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

A screw-on filter is simply screwed in front of the camera lens. Since the filter is firmly screwed onto the camera lens, it is impossible for the filter to slip out of place. A quick change of different types of filters is therefore also not possible and only recommended with a plug-in system.

Usually UV filters, skylight filters, polarising filters, infrared filters and grey filters are screwed onto the lens. With some filter types, such as polarising and grey filters, manual adjustment is also possible. These variable filter systems often have a small lever that can be used to adjust the filter intensity.

Screw-on filter systems are very small and do not require much storage space for transport.

This means you don't have to buy several filters in different strengths and constantly change and screw them on during your shoot. A big advantage of the plug-in filter is that the filter cannot fall down and get broken.

Advantages
  • Tight fit
  • Variable filters make work easier
Disadvantages
  • No quick change
  • Jams easily

How does a plug-in filter work and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

As the name suggests, a plug-in filter is attached directly to the lens of your camera. It is a two-piece set consisting of a filter and a holder. You first have to attach the holder to the lens so that you can then slide the square filters in front of the lens.

Grey graduated filters are usually used with this plug-in system. Manual readjustment is not possible, as is the case with variable screw filters. These are square filter plates made of plastic or glass that are inserted in front of the lens of the camera to achieve the desired result.

Plug-in filters can be quickly unplugged to allow manual refocusing of the lens.

Grey graduated filters can be bought in different sizes and price ranges. Models made of glass are particularly popular. However, glass filters are very expensive compared to plastic filters and can scratch more quickly. Therefore, the filters should always sit very firmly in the holder to be able to prevent possible accidents.

Advantages
  • Quick change possible
  • Does not jam
Disadvantages
  • No tight fit
  • Constant changing between holders

Buying criteria: You can use these factors to compare and evaluate lens filters

Filter function

Not every filter is the same. There are lens filters for many different effects. The most popular filters are listed below. In the following paragraphs we explain each filter individually. We also explain which filters you really need and which we would advise against.

  • ND filter
  • Polarising filter
  • Graduated filter
  • Colour filters
  • UV filter

Lens filters produce a wide variety of effects. Depending on the area of application, different filters are therefore useful. (hosein ashrafosadat/pexels.com)

ND filter

ND stands for neutral density. The ND filter darkens the image and is a very useful filter for photography and filming with your DSLR camera. You can think of it like sunglasses for your camera.

This ND filter allows you to take good pictures during the day with a long exposure. Especially for landscape pictures this filter is very recommendable.

Polarising filter

The polarising filter is very popular with photographers. With a polarising filter you get a look that you can't achieve with image processing. With this filter you can eliminate reflections from the picture.

This effect is very useful in landscape photography. Water reflections will be a thing of the past with this filter. Instead of a reflection of the water, you will perceive the water in the picture as transparent. For example, you can see stones at the bottom of the river, provided the river is not deep.

The polarising filter is also very practical when you want to take pictures through shop windows or even normal windows. It can also be used in portrait photography to eliminate reflections from glasses, for example.

Graduated filter

The graduated filter is a good way to give certain areas of your image a stronger effect . Easily explained, it is like a pair of semi-shaded sunglasses, like gradient sunglasses. With a graduated filter you achieve the darkening of a certain part of the image.

Whereas with the camera settings you can make an image either very light or very dark, with the graduated filter it is possible in landscape photography to make the upper part of the image dark and the lower part of the image light. This is a very cool effect that is very time-consuming in image processing and can be done very quickly with this filter.

Colour filter

In the past it was a good tool in photography: the colour filter. Today, you can change the colours of your image in a few seconds in image editing and simply place filters over your image afterwards. Therefore, the colour filter is not necessary in today's world, when you have the possibility to edit your pictures, even if it is only with your mobile phone.

UV filter

The UV filter is also not a very wise purchase in today's digital world. It is supposed to filter the UV light out of the picture. Since our cameras today are powerful enough, this is hardly necessary. Often the UV filter is used as a simple lens protector.

Did you know that you can also use a glass sphere or prism to enhance your images?

Both objects refract light. That's why you can use them wonderfully to create beautiful effects. These little helpers are especially popular for portrait photos. A glass prism is also very cheap and can be used as a good and simple filter alternative.

As already mentioned above, every filter also means a loss of image quality and always having the UV filter in front of the lens is therefore a very bad decision.

For lens protection, it is better to use simple lens caps that you put on the lens when you are not using it.

Otherwise, you should simply be very careful with your lens instead of using a protection that only means a reduction in quality.

Picture credits: Pixabay.com / PIRO4D

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