Camera Lens Filter Guide

Camera Lens Filter Guide


Lens filters are an essential accessory for every photographer. There are a number of different filters available for different purposes, from basic lens protection through to image enhancement. In this article we’ll explore the subject of camera lens filters and why they’re such an essential part of any photographer’s tool kit.



Why do I need a lens filter?


Having typically spent a lot of money (often thousands of dollars) on a new lens why is a lens filter required? It’s a good question and is asked all the time. There are typically two basic reasons why a filter is recommended for your lens.

1. Lens protection

The first and most basic reason is protection. A simple filter acts as a shield for your lens, keeping dust, dirt and moisture away from your lens and preventing damage and scratches to the lens coating. A lens filter also makes cleaning much easier, providing a flat surface for your lens cleaning cloth to go over.

2. Enhancing the image

The other reason for fitting a lens filter is to enhance the image.  Filters remove glare and reflection, adjust saturation and are all but essential when operating in challenging and bright conditions. Certain filters also allow you to better control and manipulate the image being captured.


    Can you explain what the different types of filters are?

    There are a number of different filters with each having their own purpose.  It’s also worth bearing in mind not all filters are created equal – more expensive filters will be made with premium materials that produce higher quality results and are treated with special coatings for protection and performance. Let’s go through the common filters that you should have in your camera bag

    UV Lens Filters

    UV filters are the ‘go to’ for everyday lens protection. The effect they produce on images is small but what they do well is protect your valuable lens from scratches, dust, smudges and damage.

    As well as lens protection, UV filters filter out UV light which minimizes the appearance of haze in your photos.

    Circular Polarizer Lens (CPL) filters

    CPL filters filter our glare and reflection from surfaces such as water, snow and glass. When light bounces off these sorts of reflective surfaces you get unwanted glare which can reduce the color and detail of your shots.

    Variable Neutral Density (NDV) filters

    NDV filters are quite an intricate piece of equipment. Neutral Density (ND) filters reduce, but don’t change the amount of light that comes into the lens, hence the term ‘neutral’ in the name.

    Variable neutral density filters allow you to vary how much light comes into the lens. The advantage of a variable filter is you only need to carry one filter with you in order to produce a range of darkness levels as opposed to carrying multiple ND filters and having to swap them out.

    There are a number of reasons for wanting to reduce the amount of light that comes into the lens, but one of the most common is to allow for longer exposure images to be taken without overexposing the photos – for example photos of water, smoke, clouds, etc and moving objects like traffic.

    What size filter do I need?



    Filter sizes correspond to the diameter of the lens. The good news is you don’t usually have to measure your lens as the size is often printed on the side of it.

    Lens and lens filter diameters are represented in mm and are found next to the diameter symbol (ø) marked on the lens. If you see a mark of 49ø, that means it’s a 49mm diameter lens for example and you need a 49mm lens filter to fit it.

    You typically find that the prices of lens filters change based on the size with larger lens filters more expensive that smaller ones.




    What's the best way to store filters?

    Often lens filters will come in a protective case when purchased – keep this case and use it to store your filter. Typically the case will be padded to stop the filter moving around and suffering scratches and damage.

    If your filter didn’t come with a case the next best option is to wrap it in a soft cloth or pouch when storing.

    However you store your filters, make sure they are clean before you put them away. Remove any dust, sand and dirt and wipe off any smudges so they are not only stored safely, but are ready to go next time you need to use them.

    But can't filters be applied in Photoshop?

    The first obvious limitation of Photoshop is that it won’t protect your lens! If you want lens protection there is essentially no other option but to fit a filter!

    It can also be a lot quicker to achieve the image results via a filter. Think about the time it takes to screw on a lens filter vs the time it takes to mess about in Photoshop. Attaching a filter can be way less time consuming than going down the worm-hole in Photoshop.

    In terms of specific filters, as mentioned earlier polarizing filters filter out glare and reflection from surfaces, they also increase contrast with some subjects and reduce the light transmitted which allows a slower shutter speed or a larger aperture to be used – you can’t really replace or replicate this with Photoshop filters.

    Neutral density filters reduce the amount of light getting into the lens thus allowing longer exposures – again you can’t replicate this in Photoshop either.

    Graduated neutral density filter effects can to an extent be replicated in Photoshop, often by combining multiple images, but again it can be a time consuming process and there are mixed opinions on which ultimately provides the best output.

    Introducing OKKO lens filters

    Not just another filter company, OKKO is a specialist lens filter brand born in New Zealand in 2015 and is now part of the Langly family.

    OKKO was founded by kiwi photographer Simon Apperley. Simon is a keen photographer who was frustrated by the lack of quality lens filters – when searching for filters, in every store he visited he was faced with a confusing selection of products, made from average glass and badly packaged, and worse still expensive.

    “There’s got to be a better way” he thought, and so OKKO was born.

    There are two ranges, a professional grade range, OKKO Pro and high quality but more affordable range OKKO Lite

    OKKO Pro

    The professional range, as the name suggests is aimed at the professional level photographer. This range is made with German SCHOTT glass and Japanese AGC optical glass with nano coatings.

    With over 130 years of expertise, SCHOTT is one of the leading specialty glass companies in the world producing glass product for all sorts of high-end applications across automotive, aviation, consumer products, optics and more.

    OKKO's second glass supplier AGC, also known as Asahi Glass Co, is also an industry stalwart with over 100 years of experience in the field of high-end glass component fabrication.

    The professional filter range consists of UV Protection Filters, Circular Polarised Filters and a Variable Neutral Density filter.

    One thing to note with the Pro range is that it has a lifetime guarantee.  If you break the lens for whatever reason, OKKO will replace the filter free of charge, no questions asked. You can’t get much better than that.

    OKKO Pro UV Protection Lens Filter

    From $62

    OKKO Pro Circular Polarizer Filter - CPL

    From $90

    OKKO Pro Variable Neutral Density Filter NDV

    From $165

    OKKO Lite


    The Lite range of OKKO filters are a great every day filter option.  They have been created for the beginner photographer or enthusiast on a budget.

    The Lite range includes both UV and CPL filters and is backed up with a 12 month warranty.


    OKKO (Lite) UV Protection Lens Filter

    From $35

    OKKO (Lite) Circular Polarizer Lens Filter

    From $50