Category Archives: Tips and Tricks

The filters you really need for digital photography

How important are filters in the digital age?

Which filters should you use in digital photography?

Photographic filters modify the light coming into your camera, thereby creating effects during image capture. Filters are used to increase contrast, change color balance, and compress the dynamic range of a scene. In traditional film photography,the use of filters was commonplace, as film offered limited color choices and modest dynamic range. If you were shooting slide film (transparencies), what you captured on the film was pretty much what you’d get. Even the masters of black and white photography often used filters to improve contrast in a scene.

Ring-mount filters screw into the front of your lens. Clockwise, from top: Polarizer, UV/haze filter, solid neutral density filter.

Photographic filters can be made of glass or resin, and are attached to the front of your camera lens either by a screw-in (ring) mount, or via a filter holder (square/rectangular filters). No matter what kind of filter you use, when you put a filter in front of your lens, you’re adding another glass/air interface for light to pass through. Low-quality filters can potentially degrade image quality by reducing sharpness, creating unwanted color casts, or introducing reflections or other artifacts into your photos. Your camera lens is designed to precise optical specifications; don’t ruin an image by using a cheap filter!

Filters have long been a major photographic accessory, and one question I’m frequently asked is, “what filter should I buy?” A lot has changed in the last 20 years, and digital cameras are much more forgiving than their film ancestors. When you couple the extreme dynamic range of modern digital cameras with the ability to post-process RAW images, a lot of “go-to filters” are no longer needed for most digital photography. Let’s take a quick look at the primary kinds of filters you can get, and whether they should take up space in your bag.

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Shoot Raw? You can ignore these In-Camera Settings

Some camera settings just don’t matter if you shoot in raw format

Tulips, photographed with my Nikon D850 in RAW format and processed with Lightroom Classic CC.

I see a lot of the same questions over and over on the online discussion groups. You’ve just gotten a new DSLR and you want to set it up. There are so many customizations in today’s digital cameras, so you want to do it right. As it turns out, many settings that are applied in-camera will have no meaning if you capture in RAW format and use a 3rd-party raw converter (Lightroom, Capture One, Luminar, Photos) to edit your images.

Continue reading Shoot Raw? You can ignore these In-Camera Settings
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Watch Now: How to photograph the Super Blood Moon Eclipse

Join Jason for a discussion of his tips for shooting the moon & a lunar eclipse

If you missed my live presentation, “How to Photograph a Lunar Eclipse” is now posted on my YouTube channel. You’ll learn all my secrets for camera settings for getting great photos of the moon and the upcoming “Super Blood Moon” eclipse!

-Jason Odell

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Lunchtime Learning: How to Photograph the Lunar Eclipse

Free Webinar! Friday, January 18th 1-2pm Eastern Time

Learn the techniques for photographing the upcoming Super Blood Moon eclipse with Jason Odell

Join professional photographer Jason P. Odell for a live discussion of tips and tricks for getting great photos of the upcoming Lunar Eclipse. Registration is free for the first 150 participants.

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