best filter for bird photography

Best Filter for Bird Photography: Choose The Right One

Best Filter for Bird Photography: Choose The Right One

Birds are fascinating creatures, and capturing their beauty and behavior is a unique experience for avid bird lovers. With some training, you’ll be able to approach them, so you can take a memorable photo that everyone will appreciate. In order to improve your bird shots quality, you need to invest in the right equipment and learn how to use it to capture flawless photos. So, what is the best filter for bird photography? How can you pick the right one?

Read this article to find the answers.

What is a Filter?

camera lens filters

If you’ve ever seen a professional photographer, you’ve probably seen them slipping on semi-transparent discs and attaching them to the lens of the camera. These are filters.

The ability to choose the right filter and use it to take flawless photos is a skill you need to learn if you’re serious about your bird photography endeavor. So what does a filter do?

A filter is a tool that allows the photographer to capture the essential details in a shot. It also protects the surface of the lens, so it comes in handy when you’re taking wildlife photos. Filters are attached to the front of your camera to block specific colors or light from entering into the camera, thus changing the photo’s overall mood.

Changing the tone of your photo elements has become possible and probably more accessible to beginners through editing apps. However, there are special effects that you can’t add using an app. Moreover, digital editing will eventually affect your photo quality.

How to Choose the Right Filter for Bird Photography

Sparrows on sunflowers head.

When it’s time to pick a filter to enhance the quality of your birds’ photos, you need to focus on the quality. You get what you pay for, so you need to make sure that the filter is adequately made. There are other factors that you should think about before buying and installing the filter.

Shape

Filters can be round or square. Round filters are attached directly to the lens of the camera, while square filters need a special mount.

Round filters will work if you use your camera with the same size of lenses to take bird photos. If you’re using several lens sizes, you might need to buy different sizes of the same filter. With a square filter, you’ll only change the adaptor ring. Some types of filters like Graduate ND filters are best used in a mounting system.

Mounting

Filters can be drop-in or screw-in. A screw-in filter can be mounted right on the front of the lens and has a ring made of aluminum or brass.

A drop-in filter mounts into a system. In most cases, the mounting system can also accommodate a screw-in UV filter which can be used with other drop-in filters to enhance the photo quality.

Material

Filters are either made of glass or resin, and both can enhance your photos’ quality. Glass filters are more suitable for experienced users and should be adequately maintained to avoid scratches that affect the photos. The chemical composition of the glass and its thickness affect the way your images will look after installing a glass filter.

Resin filters are usually more affordable and flexible. This means that a resin filter is more resistant to drops and impact, which is pretty common when taking wildlife photos. However, there might be a loss of sharpness if the filer isn’t well-made. Some types of thin resin filters provide even better quality than glass filters.

Filter Types

For every camera, there are several filter options that you can use to take better photos. These filters can be made of several materials, and the main difference is the coating and how it affects the details in your birds’ photos.

UV Filter

This is the first filter that every beginner needs to buy, and it’s usually quite cheap. The UV filter or Haze filter is quite basic as it mainly lessens the amount of UV light entering through the lens. As a result, it improves the quality and reduces blurriness.

A UV filter is an essential tool for taking birds and wildlife photos because it enhances natural colors. Moreover, it protects the camera lens from dirt, moisture, salt spray, grease, and scratches, which might affect your camera lens.

Although these filters aren’t expensive, a very cheap one might affect the quality of your photos. It won’t also provide the needed protection for your lens.

High-quality UV filters are multi-coated to reduce the flare. You can remove the UV filter if you’re incorporating another to minimize the shadowing in the corners of your photo or the Vignetting Effect. However, if you want to draw attention to the center of the picture, you might still keep this filter to achieve this effect.

A high UV filter works when you’re taking photos of birds in bright sunlight or next to water bodies. The filter might look yellow or amber-like due to the number of coatings. A low UV filter is almost transparent.

There’s a special kind of UV filter which is called the Skylight filter. Unlike the amber ambiance of the UV filter, this one has a weak orange or magenta tinge. It protects the lens like the UV filter and warms up cold colors.

The Amazon Basics UV Protection Camera Lens Filter is a great option for beginner photographers and is available in multiple sizes. The Breakthrough Photography UV Filter and waka 72mm MC UV Filter feature multiple coatings to block more light.

If you’re looking for a Skylight filter, you can consider the TIFFEN 72MM 1A Skylight Filter.

Polarizing Filter

A polarizing filter reduces the glare and improves your photo’s saturation, thus adding to its sharpness and overall quality. The filter blocks reflected or polarized light from water bodies or metal objects to make your image clearer.

Polarizing filters enhance the colors of birds and landscape elements and make them look richer. It brings out the fine details of every element by reducing the glare. However, a polarizing filter shouldn’t be used all the time. For example, when you’re using a wide lens, this filter might deteriorate your photo’s quality.

A polarizing filter will be a perfect addition to your camera if you’re taking bird photos next to water bodies because it reduces the glare. However, this filter isn’t clear and basically reduces the amount of light passing through the lens, so using it in low-light conditions might not be the best idea.

This is why you need to adjust the shutter speed to improve your image exposure if you’re using this filter. You can also change the Aperture and ISO to stabilize your image and enhance its details.

Polarizing filters don’t only work in bright light but can even improve your bird photos’ quality on overcast or rainy days. They can also be used to increase the saturation of your subject.

The Amazon Basics Circular Polarizer Camera Lens Filter and Breakthrough Photography Circular Polarizing Filter for Camera Lens are excellent polarizing filters to improve your photos’ saturation.

ND Filter

Neutral Density filters keep your photos neutral by reducing the overall amount of light passing through the lens, unlike a polarized filter that reduces the amount of reflected light. Even in bright light conditions, an ND filter will help you create blur effects. This filter allows you to use wider Aperture settings.

ND filters come numbered to show how much filter is blocked by the filter. For example, an ND2 filter allows half of the light to pass through the lens, which is the equivalent of 1 f-stop. An ND4 filter is twice as dark and is equivalent to 2 f-stops. You can use several filters on top of each other to make your photo even darker.

ND filters don’t work well for shooting bird photos because they can make your photo too dark. However, you can adjust the exposure a little to get a better shot. Nevertheless, with a strong ND filter, seeing your composition and adjusting the autofocus can become quite challenging.

You can also buy a variable ND filter that attaches to the front of the lens and darkens, depending on your needs. This reduces the possibility of ruining the image quality by stacking multiple filters. This filter works for very shallow depths of field when taking macro shots of birds.

The Neewer ND2 / ND4 / ND8 / ND16 Neutral-Density Filter Kit is a versatile option for photographers because you can experiment with several darkening filters, depending on the light conditions. The Gobe 67mm ND8 maintains the neutrality of the colors while enhancing saturation.

Graduated ND Filter

This filter features a darker ND degree at the top, with almost clear glass or resin at the bottom. In most cases, you need to use a system with these square filters or hold them with your hand in front of the lens.

The Graduated ND filter is perfect for capturing landscape and wildlife photographs’ beauty in more challenging light conditions. So, if you’re taking a photo of a bird flying at the time of sunset, this filter will block the bright light in the background of your composition while showing the details in the foreground.

It mimics the smart function of our minds that allows us to see the details in the bright and dark sections of a scene. It improves the overall exposure of your photo.

You can try the Rangers 8pcs ND Filter Kit, which offers several solid and graduated filter options.

Wrap Up

Buying and installing the right filters will significantly impact the quality of your birds’ photos. While some filters like a UV filter are pretty basic, there are other types that work for more challenging photography conditions. We hope you enjoyed this article on the best filter for bird photography.

Fly high friends!