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What Is the Best Filter to Use on Ultra Wide Angle Lenses?

Published: 02/05/2019
By: Brandon

Andrew in Massachusetts writes:

What filter kit are people buying for ultra-wide zooms like the Nikkor 14-28 and Tamron 15-30? These are lenses with bulbous fronts that cannot accept a screw-in filter. Adaptive kits are expensive and fiddly, so I would like to know what people's experiences have been. Maybe people have also cobbled together their own systems?

Well Andrew, I've only ever used the Lee SW150 filter system so unfortunately, I can't speak of all available options. As you've mentioned, the SW150 is a little pricey to get set up with but it works great and I'd be lost without it.

I've also heard good things about the Nisi 150; check out the in-depth review by FStoppers.

Does anyone in the PFRE community have other recommendations?

7 comments on “What Is the Best Filter to Use on Ultra Wide Angle Lenses?”

  1. I used the Wonderpana (https://fotodioxpro.com/collections/wonderpana) with my Canon 17TS-E.
    It worked perfectly however a polarizer that size does not really work all that well and gives an uneven result on skies.

    The Lee and Nisi fllters have greater flexibility and a large selection of filters.

    The question I have is what are you trying to achieve in RE photography that cannot be achieved in post? In the film days a grad filter was almost mandatory. Today it can be argued that superior results can be reached using the powerful masking tools available for free in PS and for a small sum from a variety of vendors.

  2. Andrew, what are you trying to do via a filter? With a little help from the hobby shop, you could brew your own mount for using square ND and graduated ND filters if you don't want to spend the money on a store-bought version. Circular polarizers don't work very well due to the wide field of view.

  3. I am thinking about the stc nd clip in filters. The use of these would eliminate the problems with bulbous fronts and sice issues. Did anyone test them already? I can't find good information on the net.

  4. Filters are just another tool. So just as you use specific tools for certain purposes, a discussion of filters requires knowing what your intent is for them. So why are you wanting to use filters and specifically what filters? Frankly, I don't use any filters except for video when I need to reduce exposure to keep the 1/125 shutter speed and mid range f-stop. For stills I don't use any. I have heard all the discussions as to why we need to use ND filters. I simply don't buy them. A filter just adds another layer of glass (hopefully glass) to collect dust, oils for the air, condensation etc and get in the way of sun hoods. On occasion I will use a Polarizing filter for obvious reasons. Back in the days of film, I had to use filters to correct for color to warm up over cast day and adjust for artificial lighting whether tungsten or florescent. But today? I don't bother. I shoot at f-9 and let the shutter speed deal with adjusting the exposure, except for video which is a different creature.

  5. I recently heard about sensor filters—they clip into your sensor box in front of the sensor, but they won't work with every camera, and if you need a circular polarizer, then a sensor filter is not going to work.

    Here's a video about them: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LltjDbMjdX0

    Long shot, but Canon has an EF to RF adapter for the EOS R system that has drop-in filters, one that's a variable ND, the other a CPL... It makes me wonder if such a filter exists by a third party for the Nikon Z system? That is, of course, if you're already using one of the new mirrorless cameras.

  6. Colin, do you have a manufacturer name? Back when I was shooting with 4x5" and 8x10" cameras, we always trimmed Kodak CC filters and wedged them across the back of the lens but then we had a nice big lens board to attach them to. But I would worry about damaging by accident or slip of fingers so close to the sensor especially as you mentioned a mirrorless camera. But still, a great idea.

  7. Filters are old hat (old school to you young'uns). Vital back in film days, especially with the slide film most pros used, but barely relevant now. LR and PS and HDR give you all the tools you need, almost all the time. I do carry a polarizer, but I use it on a 28-105 when I'm reaching out for a distant view. The polarizer's one unique ability is to erase most reflections on water, but why would you want to do that?

    Granted, light here in the Mountain West is naturally polarized, compared to places east where the atmosphere gets murky. I suppose you could buy an oversized polarizer and hold it in front of the lens for a few shots. I've done this, but of it was a frequent need, I'd just carry a compact wide prime or wide zoom that was threaded for filters.

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