A few weeks ago I decided to start shooting with a DSLR 50mm lens that’s been tucked away in my camera bag for months. The lens was an impulse purchase that I had barely touched since I bought it. On this particular day, the sun was shining bright in the garden. I reached for my polarizing filter and attempted to screw it on my lens, but guess what? It didn’t fit. Ugh!!
Since I was shooting in the middle of the day, the sun was high in the sky and the light was quite harsh. I knew a polarizing filter would help reduce the glare that was showing up on the surface of the plant leaves. In addition to glare being an issue when shooting in full sun, bright light can cause garden photos to look washed out. That’s another reason why I use a polarizing filter – to help saturate colors in areas of a photo that would otherwise be blown out by harsh, mid-day sunlight. If you want to learn more about shooting in bright sunlight, check out this post and this one.
Circular polarizing filters are thin, disk-like attachments that screw on the thread in front of a camera lens. These filters can block ~1.5 stops of light from reaching the sensor, so you’ll need to adjust your shutter speed if you’re shooting in manual mode.
Lens filters are not one size fits all. You must have a filter that is the right fit for the lens diameter. Fortunately it’s pretty easy to figure out what size you need, if you know where to look. Here’s a snapshot of my 50mm prime lens. On the underside of the lens, under the Nikon logo lies the information I need to figure out what size filter fits this lens.
You see the symbol above that looks like a zero with a line through it? Well the number to the right of that symbol indicates the size (diameter in millimeters) of the filter required to fit the lens. As you can see, the number printed on my 50mm lens is 58, which means it requires a 58mm polarizing filter. The polarizing filter that I had in my camera bag was 52mm – a perfect fit for my 18-55mm kit lens.
Oh, one more thing……if you are shopping for a new lens hood (which is also helpful in blocking light and preventing glare), the filter diameter will be the same for the lens hood. Here’s the 58mm lens hood I bought for my 50mm lens.
Hope you’re all set to buy a filter that’s a perfect fit for your particular lens so you can shoot in your garden – rain or shine!