Best Lens Filters on a Budget
When it comes to finding the best lens filters on a budget, there are various options that can improve image quality, reduce glair, enhance color, or add a creative effect. Camera gear can be expensive, but that doesn’t mean that you have to sacrifice quality or creativity when it comes to using lens filters.
In the text below I will explore some of the best lens filters on a budget that can help you to achieve the desired look. These affordable lens filters can be a great addition to your photography kit or a starting point for building one if you are a beginner.
Before UV filters have been used to reduce the haziness caused by UV rays which reduces image quality. But nowadays in a world of digital cameras, where are built-in sensors already sensitive to UV light these types of lenses are commonly used as a protective measure for the front element of the lens. They protect the camera in a few ways. Even though sensors are already sensitive to UV light and have built-in filtering the front element of the lens can still be affected by UV rays, so the UV lens filter blocks that small amount of UV rays which can cause hazy photos and ensures a sharp and clear image.
They are particularly useful if you are shooting in an environment with a lot of dust, sand, or other debris to protect the lens from scratches or other damage like accidental drops or bumps that can damage the lens.
It is important to note that even when you are buying on a budget you have to be careful with your choices because low-quality lenses can reduce the quality of your images and cause unwanted reflections or flares. These filters come in two different materials, so below you can find ones made out of glass and plastic. And as you know the price depends on the material. The main difference between glass and plastic filters is the quality. Glass filters are more scratch resistant, less likely to cause image distortion, and have better clarity and light transmission which means that they are less likely to reduce image quality. Plastic lens filters provide basic protection for the front element of the lens and tend to cause a reduction in image quality since they are more prone to scratches.
Urth 52mm UV Lens Filter
Urth UV lens filter made my list of best filters on a budget because it is a glass filter with a thread size of 52 mm and nano-coating. Nano-coating is a way of improving the filter’s performance and reducing the negative effect of UV light on the image quality. It makes the filter easier to clean and more resistant to scratches, dirt, oil, and smudges. The filter is made out of Japanese AGC glass which is a high-quality optical glass that ensures high clarity, high light transmission, and low distortion. It is also more durable and resistant to scratches and great option to withstand heavy use and handling.
This UV lens filter is a great way to minimize atmospheric haze, a common phenomenon when taking outdoor photos. The haze causes images to have reduced color saturation, contrast, and sharpness. It makes distant objects appear less distinct and gives s images flat and washed-out appearance.
So, the solution to this problem is a UV light lens filter that reduces glare resulting in images with images that have better contrast, saturation, and sharpness, or additional work in post-production by using software to remove or reduce the atmospheric haze in your images.
This lens filter is also water resistant, which can be a very handy feature for shooting in wet or humid conditions. Can you imagine that something so tiny like a water droplet can cause major damage to the lens filter by creating tiny scratches on its surface or causing it to develop mold over time?
If the water droplets are not removed quickly or if they seep into the filter, they can cause damage to the lens itself, so it is very important to have a water-resistant UV filter to prevent that damage and repel water droplets.
And lastly, I love the fact that this brand is ecologically aware. This Urth filter founds local communities to plant five trees in areas affected by deforestation.
NiSi 49mm UHC UV Protection Filter
NiSi UHC UV filter is also a glass filter with a thread size of 49 mm (you can choose the size when purchasing) and nano-coating. In fact, this filter has an ultra-hard coating of 18 layers coat with advanced surface coating technology. In addition to improving the durability of the filter, the ultra-hard coating can also help maintain the filter’s optical performance over time. By preventing scratches and other forms of damage, the coating can help to ensure that the filter remains clear and free of distortion, which can improve the quality of the images captured with the filter.
It has a 99.3% transmittance, which is a very important factor to consider when buying a lens filter that affects exposure and image quality. This amount of 99.3% means that 99.3% of the light that passes through a filter is transmitted to the lens and the remaining 0.7% is absorbed or reflected by the filter. So, in situations with lower light, you want a filter with a higher transmittance value that leads to a brighter image with more accurate colors and contrast. But, if you are shooting in very bright conditions you need a lower transmittance value to reduce the amount of light that is entering the camera and prevent overexposure.
This filter is made out of water-white glass which is high-quality optical glass that has a high level of clarity and transparency and ensures low levels of color distortion or tint. That is possible because it is produced by using quality materials and precise manufacturing techniques to reduce impurities and defects in the glass. Its name water-white refers to the clear colorless appearance that is similar to the water.
Since it is made out of clear and high transmittance glass it is compatible with ultra-high-definition cameras and lenses. So, it ensures no loss of image sharpness even when using high-megapixel sensors (up to 8k). And this lens filter is also waterproof.
Tiffen 52UVP 52mm UV Protection Filter
Tiffen is a 52 mm (you can choose size when purchasing) protection UV filter made out of plastic and without coating. So, it provides a basic reduction of UV light (absorbs some ultraviolet light and reduces the bluish cast of daylight) and it is water-resistant. It also provides general protection of the lens by reducing scratch, moisture, and dust from reaching lens elements.
Best Polarizing Lens Filters On a Budget
Polarizing lens filters are designed to reduce glare and reflection and improve the color and contrast of the image. They are very handy in landscape, outdoor, and action photography and if used properly they can help to reduce reflections from non-metallic surfaces like water, glass, and foliage. The result is a clear image with more saturated colors and more balanced exposure.
The usage of this filter type depends on your knowledge of its work principle. When shooting with a polarizing filter, you may need to rotate the filter to find the optimal angle of polarization for the specific scene or subject. For example, when photographing a lake or other body of water, the photographer may need to rotate the filter to minimize reflections and bring out the colors and details in the water. That angle of polarization (an orientation at which the filter is most effective in blocking certain polarized light waves) is determined by the orientation of polarizing material within the filter. To get the most out of your filter and reduce glare and reflection it is important to align the angle of polarization with the direction of the incoming light waves.
The easiest way to determine the polarizing angle is to mount the filter on your camera and point the camera to a reflective surface like water or glass and look through the viewfinder while slowly rotating the polarizing filter and observing reflection in the viewfinder. You should rotate the filter until the reflection disappears or reduces to a desired level. Also, you can use the live view function on your camera (if it has one of course).
It is important to note that these filters can also reduce the amount of light that enters the camera which means that it can require a slower shutter speed or the use of a wider aperture to allow more light to reach the camera sensor. But the modern ones are designed to minimize this effect in most cases.
Urth 58mm Circular Polarizing (CPL) Lens Filter
Like in the case of the previously mentioned Urth UV filter, this Urth 58 mm polarizing lens filter is also made out of quality AGC glass with 8 layers of nano-coating and it is water resistant. (you can read about their effect on filter quality in the section about UV filters above). This filter made my list of best lens filters on a budget because it cuts 99.9% percent of the polarized light which means that it can block 99.9% of polarized light and the remaining 0,1% passes through the filter. Polarized light is most commonly found in nature when light is reflected off of non-metallic surfaces that cause the light waves to align and vibrate in one direction which creates polarized light. This phenomenon is very problematic for photographers because it creates glare and reflection that reduce the quality of images.
So, a high level of polarizing makes this filter a high-quality one, and providing this level of light reduction is useful in many photographic applications.
Tiffen 67CP 67mm Circular Polarizer
Tiffen 67CP Circular polarizer is a filter with a diameter of 67 mm made out of glass with multi-coating. It is very handy for outdoor photography because it reduces glare and deepens the intensity of the blue sky. Unfortunately, this filter is not water resistant.
Amazon Basics Circular Polarizer Camera Lens Filter
Amazon basic polarizer is a plastic lens with a diameter of 58 mm (you can choose the size when purchasing). It is the cheapest one out of mentioned filters and gives the basic effect.
Best Neutral Density (ND) Lens Filters On a Budget
A neutral density filter is a that reduces the amount of light entering the camera lens without changing the colors or hue of the image and it is great for landscape photography and not so much for portrait photography.
In landscape photography, it is used to create a smooth, flowing effect in waterfalls, creeks, oceans, or rivers, or to create a motion blur effect in moving subjects or even to remove them from the scene, when the slow shutter speed and wider apertures are needed. And portrait photographers use a low-density ND filter when working with flashes.
These filters come in a variety of densities that are measured by stops (amount of the light they block). A low-density ND filter ideal for portrait photography has 1-2 stops and dens ones have 15-20 stops. How to know what density to get? Well, the density of the filter ND depends on the results that you want to achieve. For landscape photography three, six, and ten stops are most common. Three stop filter can be used at the end of the day when there is still too much light to create the desired length of exposure. Six-stop filters are dark but not welding glass dark and most modern cameras will be able to focus through six-stop filters. And ten stop filters are dark and handy when you want to completely blur moving water so it looks like a soft haze. If you want to find out more about ND filters visit this blog post.
Urth 52mm Soft Graduated ND8 Lens Filter
Urth ND lens filter is a 52 mm filter made out of the 20-layer nano-coated German SCHOTT glass. This high-quality optical glass helps to maintain image quality and minimize color shifts or distortion. It is a great material for ND filters because of its clarity, color fidelity, and ability to produce sharp images. The filter is water resistant and has 3 F-stops for softer light transition.
K&F Concept 67mm Variable Neutral Density Filter
K&F Concept ND filter is a 67 mm filter made out of AGC Japanese optical glass, also with multi-coating. It has 24 layers of green coatings that help repel water and dust while decreasing the amount of light that reaches your camera sensor.
The filter enables the use of slow shutter speeds to capture movement in objects like waterfalls, giving flowing water a silky-smooth appearance. It is adjustable from three to eleven stops and helps to reduce the amount of entering light without affecting color balance.