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Lens filters

edited August 2016 Posted in » Nikon D5300 Forum
I am an absolute beginner in the world of DSLR cameras and will soon be venturing out to purchase a Nikon D5300 with 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 Zoom Lens and a NIKON AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G SWM ED VR Telephoto Zoom Lens. My question is about the lens filters I require. I understand it is best to have a UV filter fitted to my lens permanently, but if I want to use a polarizing filter, can I, or do I need to have two filters fitted at the same time? Also what size filters do I need?
All help appreciated.


  • edited August 2016
    First of all, I would suggest you skip the UV or other filters for normal use. The actual filtering such things do is not necessary for digital cameras, whose bandwidth is better controlled than it was for film. You will have little if any effect from these, except for an increased likelihood of flare from the added layer of glass.

    A filter of this sort is useful to have around if you expect to use your lens in very harsh environments such as ocean spray or blowing sand, to protect the lens, but the likelihood of preventing ordinary damage is very small, and rarely pays off. Some people are convinced that they should always have a sacrificial filter on a lens, but others skip it, preferring to avoid any possible degradation of the image from the filter itself. I think this is especially true for the kit zoom, because, although it is a good lens and very useful, it's relatively cheap to replace. A little front element wear and tear will never be seen on your pictures anyway, but flare will.

    A polarizing filter is the only one whose effect cannot be duplicated in any other way, because it actually filters out certain wave patterns, and reduces glare and reflection as nothing else can. The problem here is that the action of the filter depends on precise rotation of its front element, and lenses such as the usual kit lens on cameras before the D3300 and D5300 have a rotating front element. This means that a polarizing filter can only work properly if you adjust it after focus is achieved, and then make sure that AF does not operate after it's set up.

    It's still something that can be used, but it's really only convenient to use for scenic work on a tripod.

    Another filter that can be useful is a neutral density filter. These do not depend on rotation, but darken the image in the lens to a degree (depending on the strength of the filter). An ND filter is useful when conditions outdoors are bright, and you wish to use a wide aperture to limit the depth of field and blur backgrounds. Again, though, the uses for a ND filter are relatively limited.

    If by some chance you are getting the later version of the 18-55mm (distinguished by having a push button for retracting the lens), then it also has a non-rotating front element, and a polarizing filter will work nicely on it.

    The filter size for the 18-55mm of all kinds, and for many other Nikon lenses, is 52mm. The filter size for the 55-300mm, which also, unfortunately, has a rotating front element, is 58mm.

    Stacking filters is generally not a great idea, in part because of lens flare, but also because at the widest angles, the protruding filters may cause vignetting, or darkening of the corners of your view. It is possible to do this, though, when needed. You can stack several ND filters to darken a view a great deal, or even use two polarizers to make a variable ND filter (with some color corruption when it gets very dark), but results will vary.

    For the kit zoom, you're likely to get better results, both in lens protection and in performance, if you get a good screw-in lens hood. If you have resources for older stuff anywhere nearby, the old Nikon HN-3 screw in hood, which was made originally for the 35mm prime lens, is a perfect fit on the 18-55mm DX lens, strong and rigid. You can also get various screw in hoods with collapsible rubber shades. A good hood will shade it and protect your lens, and the correct Nikon lens cap will insert inside a lens hood.

    The 55-300mm comes with a hood, which is not very robust, but works well enough. When you store this lens, you reinstall the hood backwards, and again, the supplied lens cap goes on over it.
  • edited August 2016
    I disagree with Bruto on the UV filter, but only because it is protection for your front glass. Buy a reasonable make and leave it on. Also try not to stack filters it is asking for trouble.
    Cokin p type system are freely available on the bay at ridiculously low prices, but are quite good quality.
    Buy an adapter ring and holder for each lens size like 52mm, 55mm, 62mm, etc. Use the same filters for each lens. Use polarizers at 90 degrees to the sun, or elbow to the sun.
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