Today’s Question: Your recent questions about neutral density filters got me thinking that maybe I should add some filters to my camera bag. I currently don’t have any. It sounds like a neutral density filter would be a good addition, but are there other filters I should also add to my bag?
Tim’s Quick Answer: My opinion is that most photographers would probably benefit from carrying both a solid neutral density filter, and a circular polarizer filter.
More Detail: As I’ve mentioned in previous answers published in the Ask Tim Grey eNewsletter, a solid neutral density filter enables you to achieve longer exposure times than might otherwise be possible. You can think of a solid neutral density filter as sunglasses for your lens, reducing the amount of light that can pass through the lens.
In addition, I think a circular polarizer filter can be a valuable accessory for any photographer. To be sure, this filter can be used to add a bit of drama and contrast to the sky. That effect can be achieved with similar results with post-processing for photos captured without a polarizer filter. Other effects can’t be as easily replicated.
For example, one of the key advantages of a circular polarizer filter is that it is able to cut reflections. That can help boost the saturation and accuracy of colors, and it also enables a seemingly magical ability to see right through the surface of water or other shiny surfaces.
In brief, my feeling is that for most photographers the only filters they need are those that provide an effect that would not otherwise be possible with other camera settings or in post-processing. I have elaborated on some of the reasons why I think these are the only two types of filters most photographers need, along with links to some filters I recommend, in a post on the GreyLearning blog here: