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Filters: Hardware or Software

Discussion in 'Digital Image Editing & Printing' started by TonyKillay, Sep 13, 2009.

  1. TonyKillay

    TonyKillay Well-Known Member

    Beginning to need some filters, initially to 'combat' the high dynamic range needed for landscapes under some conditions. But I suspect once one gets into them there are more uses. I've tried using HDR with mixed results, sometimes great, sometimes not so. I've downloaded Dfx trial, and the results look promising and I intend to experiment further before investing.
    What do you think of software filters, are they better, or more flexible, or more tolerant when a beginner like me is using them or do the advantages of hardware make them the best alternative? I guess there are some circumstances where software can't compete
    Your experiences and/or thoughts on the subject welcome

  2. Wheelu

    Wheelu Well-Known Member

    I continue to make use of conventional coloured filters when shooting B&W film, despite scanning the negatives into Photoshop for further manipulation. It's always better to get the image right in the camera whether you use conventional or digital processing. For example you can darken a sky using either an orange filter on the camera or levels in PS, but, if you push the image digitally you get the appearance of more grain, which might actually be electronic noise.

    However there are times when a physical filter can do more harm than good. For example shooting into the light when you risk increased flare, particularly if you have to remove the lens hood to fit, say, a graduated neutral density filter.
  3. Monobod

    Monobod Phantom of the forum

    Also, you cannot recover detail from totally blown highlights, which could be most of the sky, using software. I filter over the lens is then probably the only answer, or you can expose for the highlights and recover the shadow detail using software.

    The problem with glass filters is that it is just something else to carry around, adding to the weight of your bag. Where does it all end? :(
  4. beejaybee

    beejaybee Marvin

    and the problem with software filters is that you are dependent on the photons being captured by the sensor - you cannot rebalance what has failed to record or been blown out by overexposure.

    Having said that, colour balance filters are now obsolete, and many "special effects" are perfectly feasible to do in software. But monochrome filters remain essential if you're shooting digital B+W, software just doesn't do the job as well.

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