Choosing Camera Accessories
Taking better photos is the objective of every photographer. In this post you learn about some of the
accessories that you may want to purchase to shoot better photographs.Getting the “right” accessories for the kinds of photos you take is as important as choosing the right digital camera and learning how to take better photos.
Selecting the Lens Filter
If you’re into digital photography and are skilled at using an image editor like Photoshop, you may feel that you no longer need lens filters because you can get similar or better results by digitally editing your images. However, many good reasons exist for considering using a few filters, including a protective filter to prevent damage to your lens in harsh environments.Filters that you’re likely to find useful: the protective filter, neutral density filter, polarizing filter, and infrared filter.
Most of the damage done to camera lenses occurs when they are improperly cleaned. If you decide not to purchase and use a protective lens filter, use a soft clean cloth to clean the lens.Old cotton t-shirts make excellent cleaning cloths. If you clean your lens often, consider buying a lens cleaner kit that has a soft cloth plus a small bottle of cleaning liquid. Avoid “scrubbing” the lens because you can remove or scratch the coating on the lens.
STEP 1: DECIDE IF YOU SHOULD USE A PROTECTIVE FILTER (UV OR SKYLIGHT)
Protective filters are primarily designed to protect the front element of a camera lens from dust, moisture,
scratches, and breakage. The two most common protective filters are the UV-absorbing filter and skylight
filters. There are two schools of thought on using “protective” filters. Some feel strongly that you
should always protect the lens on your digital camera (or any camera) with a protective filter such as a UV
or skylight filter. Others feel equally strong about not adding extra glass to a lens that could possibly degrade the quality of the image. If you take good care of your camera and you avoid using it when and where the lens could get damaged, you may not need a protective filter. If you use your camera in harsh environments where the lens could get damaged or where the lens frequently gets wet or dirty and needs to be cleaned often, you may want to buy and use a UV or skylight filter.
STEP 2: CONSIDER WHEN YOU SHOULD USE A POLARIZER
One of the more valuable and tricky-to-use filters is the polarizer. You can use polarizers to reduce reflections
and to make richer colors—sometimes.Admittedly, the successful use of a polarizer requires some knowledge and a bit of luck. Because a polarizer’s effect varies depending upon your camera’s angle to the sun, you have to have chosen a place to shoot where the camera’s orientation allows you to “polarize” the light—and you have to know how to adjust the polarizer.
Too much polarization can increase contrast and color saturation in a photograph so much that it can look unnatural and even posterized. Until you’ve gained some experience with a polarizer, shoot the same picture with varying amounts of polarization so that you end up with a photo you like.
STEP 3: CONSIDER WHERE YOU MIGHT USE A NEUTRAL DENSITY FILTER
Neutral density filters are designed to reduce the amount of light that gets to the image sensor in your digital camera without affecting the color.
Although this may seem contrary to the way you usually work,where more light helps you use a low ISO setting and a fast shutter speed for sharper pictures, you will soon find that neutral density filters can be some of the most useful filters you can buy.If you have ever seen a photo of a waterfall where the water looks like a silky stream of fog rolling down the rocks, then you’re likely to have seen the results of a photograph taken with a neutral density filter.
Also,because of the mathematics behind the optics in compact digital cameras, achieving shallow depth-of-field in bright light is very hard. Using a neutral density filter,you can not only slow action down enough to get soft blurred water coming down a waterfall, but you can also improve the background blur behind your subject—a highly desirable feature for many photographers.
Generally, when you use a neutral density filter, you also need to use a tripod because you will be shooting
with slow shutter speeds. The longer your exposure time, the smoother the water flow and the longer the camera must be perfectly still. Experiment with shooting water, plants blowing in the wind, and different moving objects. Capturing subjects in motion with a neutral density filter can often yield exciting results. Get one and experiment with it—you’re more than likely to get results you would not be able to get without one.
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