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3/14
Shim
Updated on July 17, 2016

Photo filters: how to use them...?

It's customary to use filters in photography. Were it only an UV or protection filter. However, in panoramic photography by stitching, it's not recommended to use for instance the famous polarizing filter because its use is tricky. Yet it can be beneficially replaced by a neutral grey shelf filter.

Note! Having had the possibility to run numerous tests, I also share my conclusions as to their respective qualities (Hoya, BW, Rodenstock, Lee Filters...).

Onjectif grand angle Canon 17-40 mmThe use of photo filters is very customary. They allow for instance to protect the front lens and are easier to clean than our dear objective lenses. Some use anti-UV additional filters in the mountain for example in order to remove even more the typical blue veil.
But are there recommended and to be avoided filters when you shoot panoramic photos by stitching? Let's see this now...

Note! During their presentation, I give my advice on some filters I could try and compare. So I'll see you at the bottom of the page for my evaluation !


If you're a beginner...

A new part of this guide is now dedicated to you. You'll find pieces of advice easy to apply to stitch nice panoramas, choose your software, your equipment...

Create your first panorama Suivre


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UV filters

Filtre photoThere's no contraindication a priori to use UV filters since they'll beneficially protect the front objective lens; they're indeed much cheaper. However, the issue of their quality is naturally raised: do they negatively influence the quality of our "dear" lenses on two criteria that seem important to me:

  • Is the sharpness of our lenses made worse?
  • Is the rendering of the colors influenced?

About sharpness: according to my tests, from a certain level of quality - I particularly think about the excellent value for money of Hoya Pro 1 Digital filters - the level is such that the differences are hardly visible - when they are! - in my tests realized with my Pentax 645D and my best lenses. Frankly, we're quibbling between for instance the crème de la crème from Rodenstock (the HR) and this Hoya serial. On this sharpness criterion, only could we notice on one zone that the sharpness is a little bit worse than without filters or with the best filters but hard to tell with certainty that it's not air turbulence for example rather than a problem of homogeneity. When I'm telling you we're quibbling, we really are!

About the rendering: after running tests with very different lights, I'm unable to say whether a filter is really better than its competitors.

And then, there's also the problem of the manufacturing quality and this time, I'm bound to notice that the best filters, often made of brass, are more pleasant to screw and unscrew.

One piece of advice! It's unbelievable how the difference of quality is unpronounced between the best filters and the excellent serial Hoya Digital Pro 1. The more obvious remains the quality of screwing thanks to the brass but then, this is really expensive. I myself own Hoya Pro 1 Digital and Rodenstock HR but I've never felt the need to systematically change my Hoya for Rodenstock.

My purchasing advice! I made a comparative review between several UV filters on the market in order to compare their quality. See my conclusions below in my purchasing advice and the post on my blog suivre

Pointilles

Hoya Pro1 Digital UV filter

HOYA Pro1 Digital UV Filters

The serial Hoya Pro1 Digital has the best value for money on the market according to my tests :

  • Excellent value for money;
  • Rather efficient against distant blue UV rays;
  • No big drawback for the price.

The HD serial by Hoya (over there) is believed even more homogeneous on the whole surface of the filter and the frame is even thinner but the overall quality of this serial is remarkable for the price and Hoya HDs are not free from little defects too!

Caution when you place your order: check the diameter of your lens.

From $24
|
Buy from Amazon.com

Buy on... Support this site, buy this advice from affiliate retaillers !

Hoya Pro1 D UV 58mm Price Seller
Logo Amazon.com
$24.50
 
£15.20
  $34.95

Pointilles

Hoya UV HD filter

HOYA HD3 UV filters - New!

The new serial Hoya HD3 represents the high-range from Hoya. And you have to acknowledge that quality's here, but not perfection! There's not a world of difference between the Pro serial and the HD3 and some could even say we're quibbling but the HD3 serial is even more homogeneous, finer and easier to clean thanks to a special coating.

  • Very good overall quality but not perfect;
  • Good value for money;
  • HOYA's EXCLUSIVE hardened optical glass technology makes this 1mm thick have 4 times the strength of normal optical glass
  • Rather less efficient against blue distant UV rays than the afore mentioned serial paradoxically;
  • Perfectly homogeneous;
  • Thinner and more pleasant frame (wide-angle lens).
  • More pleasant to use in the field than the afore mentioned serial.

Just a little bit more expensive than the excellent serial Pro1, the HD3 serial represents the uncompromising offer from Hoya but, and I'll state it again, it's not perfect either. A few specular reflections remain on certain luminous points and, oddly, more than the Digital Pro serial.

Caution when you place your order: check the diameter of your lens.

From $73
|
Buy from Amazon.com

Buy on... Support this site, buy this advice from affiliate retaillers !

Hoya HD3 UV 58mm Price Seller
Logo Amazon.com
$72.90
  $72.90

Pointilles

Rodenstock UV HR Digital filter

RODENSTOCK HR UV filters

The Rodenstock HR serial represents the high-range from Rodenstock and is certainly the best in terms of filters.

  • We're close to perfection! (but others also are and the difference is sometimes invisible).
  • Completely homogeneous filter;
  • Very soft screwing thanks to the brass ferrule;
  • Very solid surface coating;
  • Easier to clean;
  • Careful and efficient multilayer coating.

If the optical quality (homogeneity of the glass) is here, this filter, the just like the serial HOYA HD is however not completely free from defects particularly when it comes to specular reflections. Yet we're close to perfection, how smooth is assembling it! Hard not to succumb!

Caution when you place your order: check the diameter of your lens.

From $70
|
Buy from Amazon.com

Buy on... Support this site, buy this advice from affiliate retaillers !

Rodenstock HR UV 58mm Price Seller
Logo Amazon.com
$63.95
  $78.99

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Polarizing filters

Probably the most difficult filter to use in panoramic photography: the polarizing filter. The reason is very simple: the filter is efficient only to a certain proportion of blue sky, the one making an angle of 90° with the sun and, progressively, inefficient elsewhere. The sky will thus be visibly darkened in this part and clearer on each side. It's pretty ugly and above all very complicated to correct as you can see on the picture below. Indeed, the field of view shot is most of the time so wide that there could be a huge disparity between between both sides of a stitched picture with this filter. With that said, the polarizing filter remains your only option against reflections in windows...


One piece of advice! Beware not to go over a 100° field of view if you use a polarizing filter to get a nice blue sky on the whole picture.


My purchasing advice
I made a comparative review between several UV filters (In french) on the market in order to compare their quality. You'll find my conclusions below in my purchasing advice and the post on my blog (In french) suivre


Pointilles

Hoya Pro1 Digital polarizer filter

HOYA Pro1 Digital polarizing filters

The serial Hoya Pro1 Digital is of very good value for money according to my tests... if not to say excellent. I have some and I never felt the need to change them in spite of comparative reviews.

  • Excellent value for money;
  • Optically excellent; you really have to quibble to see the difference in certain areas in comparison to the best, due to a less absolute homogeneity.
  • Polarizing effect as good as the best ones.

The HD serial from Hoya is even more homogeneous on the whole surface of the filter and the frame is even thinner but the overall quality of this serial is remarkable considering its price and Hoya HD are not free from little defects either!
Frankly, the difference between the serials Digital Pro 1 and HD is really fine. According to me, we quibble as for the optical quality and only the mechanical quality makes a little pleasant difference.

Caution when you place your order: check the diameter of your lens.

From $45
|
Buy from Amazon.com

Buy on... Support this site, buy this advice from affiliate retaillers !

Hoya Pro1 D Pola 58mm Price Seller
Logo Amazon.com
$45.00
  $45.40


Pointilles

Hoya HD3 filter

HOYA HD3 polarizer filters - New !

The Hoya HD3 serial represents the top-range from Hoya. And you have to acknowledge that quality's here, but not perfection! Optically, there's almost no difference between the Pro1 and the HD3 serials and some could even say we're quibbling but the HD3 serial is even more homogeneous, finer and more pleasant to clean thanks to a special coating and also more pleasant to use mechanically. This is not always negligible!

  • Very good overall quality, but not perfect;
  • HOYA's EXCLUSIVE hardened optical glass technology makes this 1mm thick have 4 times the strength of normal optical glass;
  • Water & Oil repellent, scratch & stain resistant, easy to clean
  • Good value for money;
  • Perfectly homogeneous;
  • Thinner and more pleasant frame (wide-angle lens).
  • More pleasant to use in the field than the serial above.

Slightly more expensive than the excellent serial Pro1, the HD3 serial represents the uncompromising offer from Hoya but, and I'd like to stress it, it's not perfect either. Some specular reflections remain on certain luminous spots and, oddly, more than on the Digital Pro serial.

Caution when you place your order: check the diameter of your lens.

From $110
|
Buy from Amazon.com

Buy on... Support this site, buy this advice from affiliate retaillers !

Hoya HD3 pola. 58mm Price Seller
Logo Amazon.com
$117.90
  $117.90


Pointilles

Rodenstock Digital Pro polariser filter

RODENSTOCK DIGITAL polarizing filters

The serial Rodenstock Digital Pro is the middle-range offer from Rodenstock and is positioned like the HOYA HD serial.

  • We're close to perfection ! (but the others too and the difference is sometimes invisible).
  • Completely homogeneous filter;
  • Very smooth screwing compared to the others;
  • Careful and efficient multilayer coating.

If the optical quality (homogeneity of the glass) is here, this filter, just like the HOYA HD serial, isn't completely free from defects though, particularly when it comes to specular reflections. But we're still close to perfection and assembling it is so smooth! Hard not to succumb!

Caution when you place your order: check the diameter of your lens.

From $85
|
Buy from Amazon.com

Buy on... Support this site, buy this advice from affiliate retaillers !

Rodenstock Pola. 58mm Price Seller
Logo Amazon.com
$85.40
  $85.40


Pointilles

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Neutral grey filters 2x, 4x, 8x...

Filtre photoMost probably the most difficult filter to use in panoramic photography is the polarizing filter. The reason is very simple: the filter is only efficient on a certain proportion of blue sky, the one making an angle of 90° with the sun. The sky will thus be really darkened in this part and clear on the sides. It's quite ugly and above pretty complicated to correct. Indeed, most of the time, the field of view shot is so wide that there could be a big disparity between the two edges of a stitched photo with this filter. With that said, the polarizing filter is still your best option against reflections in windows...

One piece of advice! Be careful not to go over 100° of field of view if you're using a polarizing filter to get a nice blue sky on the entire picture.


pointilles

Hoya Pro1 Digital filter

8X HOYA Pro1 Digital neutral filters

The Hoya Pro1 Digital serial is of very good value for money according to my tests but on the correction of the blue dominant of distant items or shadows, the Rodenstock filters are noticeably more powerful.

  • Excellent value for money;
  • Optically excellent;
  • Distant items and shadows bluer than with Rodenstock filters.

The HD serial from Hoya is even more homogeneous on the whole surface of the filter and the frame is even thinner but the overall quality of this serial is remarkable at this price and Hoya HDs are not free from little defects either!
Frankly, the difference between Digital Pro 1 and HD is really fine. We're almost quibbling.

Caution when you place your order: check the diameter of your lens.

From $49
|
Buy from Amazon.com

Buy on... Support this site, buy this advice from affiliate retaillers !

Hoya Pro1 D NDx8 58mm Price Seller
Logo Amazon.com
$49.00
  $99.99


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Grey shelf filters

Filtre photoHere is the filter that would deserve being in every landscape panoramic photographer's camera bag. There's no contraindication to its use, unlike polarizing filter. It's thus a very good filter to darken the sky or even better, not overexpose it when you want to expose the ground correctly.

A piece of advice! There are often two types of shelf filters: soft and hard. The first ones are very progressive (for a mountain landscape for instance) and others rather for seasides where the skyline is very neat and flat.

My selection coming soon...

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Big Stopper, ND400, ND1000 filters...

My reviews coming soon...

 

Next page, we'll be talking about tripods and leveling bases Suivre

Next page 4/14 : tripods and leveling bases suivre


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