Although night photography has been a very popular sub-niche of photography for years now, over the last few months, there has been a sudden spike in it popularity. Due to this, we are constantly seeing more and more questions being asked from photographers all over the world based around how they are able to get a better level of image quality out of their night photography sessions.
Although we see a wide range of questions being asked on a regular basis these days, one of the more frequently asked questions that we are seeing is based around “Do I need a filter for night photography?“. Due to this, we have decided to make this the main focus of today’s article in an attempt to help as many of our readers as possible who are wondering if they actually need a filter for their night photography as well as what times of camera lens filter tend to better for night photography.
Do I Need A Filter For Night Photography?
Well, in all honesty, this is actually going to depend on a number of different factors. The main ones will be what you are actually trying to do for your night photography session, the type of equipment that you are using for your session as well as the available lighting when you are on location. As you can probably guess, these three main factors all come into play meaning that you may need a lens filter for one of your night photography sessions and not need one for your next.
That said though, we are huge believers in the saying “I rather have it and not need it then need it and not have it”. As the majority of lens filters on the market can be used in a large number of the major photography niches, it is usually a good idea to add some decent filters to your collection of camera accessories.
Additionally, the days of having to pay the higher price tag for a Tiffin filter are gone, newer brands are innovating away and have been able to force a price drop in the lens filter market over the last five years or so. This allows photographers on tight budgets to add some decent lens filters to their camera accessories without having to break the bank.
We will not be going over the three main types of lens filter that we see people asking for advice on when it comes to night photography. Rather than flat out tell you if you will or wont need them for your night photography session, we have decided to go with when a filter will be most useful to allow you to make a more informed decision for your own sessions. We feel this is the better approach as you will know what you need out of your photography sessions better than us as well as the specifics for each of your sessions too.
Light Pollution Filter
We feel that the most popular type of lens filter that we see people reaching out and asking for advice on when it comes to night photography specifically is a decent light pollution filter. If this is a lens filter that you feel you will get some value out of and be able to improve your image quality with, we usually recommend our readers go with the K&F Concept Light Pollution Filter.
In our opinion, the light pollution filter market is definitely dominated by the K&F Concept filter range and few competitors even come close to the quality of their filters or their price point. Additionally, their light pollution filter has managed to earn itself an excellent reputation amongst the community over the years and constantly goes from strength to strength.
If you are planning to be doing your night photography sessions in a city, town, or other area with high amount of light pollution then a decent light pollution filter can be worth its weight in gold. As the name suggests it drastically reduces the effects of light pollution on your photographs and can offer some quick and easy improvements to your image quality.
That said though, if you know for a fact that you will be out and about in areas with minimal or even no light pollution then a light pollution filter is definitely one that you are able to give a miss. Due to its very specific purpose, it offers minimal value in other photography niches meaning that unless you are going to be doing a large amount of night photography and to some extent other forms of low light photography in areas with light pollution, you will get little to no value out of it.
Neutral Density (ND) Filter
When it comes to night photography, there are a number of misconceptions about using an ND filter and we can understand why. During the night, there is usually a lack of available light anyway so why would you want to use and ND filter to further reduce the amount of light available for your camera sensor.
Well, if you are wanting to do any long exposure work then a decent ND filter is going to be essential and long exposure work can be very popular at night. The lack of ambient light lets you easily take advantage of other light sources such as stars or car lights to get some excellent looking photographs like the one below.
You would not be able to adjust your shutter speed to capture the trails of the car lights if you were not using an ND filter with your camera lens. For anything outside of a light pollution filter, we always recommend the Gobe lens filter range to our readers. They are as budget friendly as possible while also offering similar, if not better performance than some of their higher price point cometators.
On top of this, their ND filter range, in particular, has one of best reputations going amongst the photography community due to its dirt cheap price and outstanding performance. An ND filter is an excellent camera accessory to add to your collection due to it offering improvements to your image quality in a number of photography niches outside of night photography making it well worth having.
Circular Polarizer (CPL) Filter
Next up we have the CPL filter and again, the use of a CPL lens filter for your night photography sessions is going to depend on what you are actually planning to do. Similar to ND filters, many beginner photographers and even some intermediate level photographers often wonder why you would want to prevent light reflections at night when light sources are already limited.
Take the photograph above as an example, the use of a CPL lens filter on the camera lens for the photograph helps to control the glare from the stars and the moon off the body of water infront of the main subject of the photograph, the mountain range. If you are going to be doing any type of photography work where reflections may be a pain at night then a CPL lens filter is a great bit of kit to have in your collction.
Most people only really think of reflecting light from water but light reflected from metal such as a car can also be reduced with a CPL lens filter too. As you can probably guess, we always recommend the Gobe CPL filter range to our readers due to their excellent performance, low price, and great reputation. A CPL filter also offers plenty of value in other popular photography niches too making it a solid addition to your camera accessories.
Ultraviolet (UV) Filter
The final lens that we are going to talk about is a UV lens filter. Although this filter type has kind of evolved over the years as modern cameras have no issues with ultraviolet light hitting their camera sensors, a UV lens filter is now usually used to protect your forward camera lens element from bumps or scrapes.
We would highly recommend that you consider using a decent UV lens filter with your camera lens no matter what photography niche you are working in. These filters are cheap and can potentially save you hundred, or potentially even thousands of dollars worth of repairs or replacement if you drop your camera during use and the lens takes a hit.
Again, we recommend that our readers go with the Gobe UV Filter range as it offers the best performance for the price point while also having an excellent reputation amongst photographers too. As we touched on earlier, we would highly recommend that our readers consider using a UV filter with their lens no matter the niche they are working in so there is plenty of value in picking one up.