9 Camera Filters and Lenses for Your DSLR to Achieve Awesome Effects in Photos

Lens Filters and Art Lenses for DSLR Cameras and Photography

Photo: Stock Photos from CAVAN-IMAGES/Shutterstock
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Do you use filters on your DSLR camera? These affordable add-ons are a great way to spark creativity and explore all that your device is capable of shooting. From multi-image effects to diffused light, filters and art lenses will complete your photography kit.

In the days of only film, filters were necessary to help correct the light or increase contrast. Today, Photoshop offers these same advantages (and more) to digital shooters. However, there are still some things filters can do better—and easier—than you can in post-production. They protect your expensive lenses, too.

Read on to discover just some of your options for fun filters and art lenses.


Easy Filters for Maximum Effect


Cross-Screen Star Effects


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A cross-screen filter has an etched grid that scatters the light entering the lens. These filters give a starry, magical vibe to sunlit scenes or nighttime exposures. The shape of the resulting stars as seen in the image depend on the tightness of the grid.


Soft-Focus Filters


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A soft-focus filter does exactly as the name implies; it softens an image for a dreamlike quality. While this effect can be achieved with Photoshop, shooting with a filter allows you to view the effect live for the best composition. These filters come in variable densities corresponding to the strength of the blurring effect. These filters are also called diffusion filters as they diffuse the light.


Circular Polarizing Filters

Polarizing Filter For DSLR

Photo: Stock Photos from DARKSOUL72/Shutterstock

Polarizing filters are very useful, especially if you like street or landscape photography. Like a polarized lens in your sunglasses, the filter polarizes light as it passes through. This has the result of intensifying blue skies and enhancing cloud detail—a boon for landscape images. Street photographers use these polarized filters; too. The polarization allows you to photograph through glass without reflections getting in the way.


Neutral Density Filters

A neutral density (ND) filter is another important tool in your photography arsenal. These filters reduce the amount of light entering the lens by some amount, depending on the filter density. These are useful in situations where you want to widen the aperture or slow the shutter speed but light conditions are restrictive.

Some ND filters are only partial, such as a graduated ND filter. In this case, one half of the lens is shaded while the other is not. These are useful for sunsets or other scenes including very bright and very dark shades.


Multi-Image Filters


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Multi-image filters are just plain fun but the effects can also be very artsy. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but they all include multiple planes to produce a refraction effect in your shot. Your image appears in multiples, overlapping and merging at times. These filters are fun for photographers who want to push their compositional skills. You will love the pop art results.


Close-Up Filters

Macro Photography Close-Up Filters

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These close-up filters are self-explanatory: they provide extra magnifying power. Macro lenses can be expensive, but a set of close-up lenses is very affordable. Most options come in sets with a variety of magnifying strengths which can be used independently or stacked.


Quirky Art Lenses


Fisheye Lens


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A fisheye lens provides a very wide field of view. It's the favorite of landlords trying to make their properties look more spacious, but you can use these lenses for artistic purposes. The slight distortion and wide view open the frame to creativity.


Holga Lens


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The Holga is a cult-favorite plastic toy camera that has been delighting photographers for decades with its plastic lens and variable results. Now, DSLR users can roll the dice too with the Holga lens. This plastic lens is sold in formats to mount on your favorite cameras from Nikon to Canon. The results are enchanting.


Pinhole Lens


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Pinhole photography is minimalism at its best. With a very small hole and a long exposure, the results can be magic. Try pinhole photography with your DSLR by attaching a special art lens and using your camera's manual settings. Like all the lenses and filters, the limit to what you can create is determined by your imagination.


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Madeleine Muzdakis

Madeleine Muzdakis is a Contributing Writer at My Modern Met and a historian of early modern Britain & the Atlantic world. She holds a BA in History and Mathematics from Brown University and an MA in European & Russian Studies from Yale University. Madeleine has worked in archives and museums for years with a particular focus on photography and arts education. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys hiking, film photography, and studying law while cuddling with her cat Georgia.
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