Distorted water, deep blue sky, many photo effects can be created by taking photos with a filter. In this post I want to give you an overview of what different filter systems are and what their advantages and disadvantages are.

The differences in the filter systems

The two most common filter systems are screw-in filters and plug-in or slide-in filters. A distinction is made here between the type of filter attachment.

Screw filter

With screw filters, as the name suggests, the filters are screwed directly onto the lens.

How do I use this?

You will find the corresponding thread on the front of your lens. In order to do justice to the different sizes of the lenses, there are screw filters with different diameters.

You can use various sources to find out the diameter of your lens:

  • The lens itself – there is usually a Ø and a number somewhere on the lens
  • Operating instructions or manufacturer’s website

Advantages of screw filters

  • From my point of view, the big advantage of screw filter systems is the 100% “light tightness”. As the lenses and filters are screwed together, daylight cannot penetrate and cause reflections in the filter glass. This could cause problems, especially with long exposure.

Disadvantages screw filter

The disadvantage of such a system is quite clear, the lack of flexibility in use:

  • You are tied to the filter diameter
  • Graduated filters cannot be adjusted

Slide-in filter

In order to be able to take photos with a slide-in filter, filter holders are necessary. Well-known manufacturers of such filter holders are Lee, Formatt Hitech or Haida. These filter holders are mounted on the lens and the filters (often made of glass or plastic) are inserted.

A practical report on the Haida filter holder for the Nikon 14-24 f2.8 can be found here:

  • Haida filter holder for the Nikon 14-24mm: experience report

Advantages of slide-in filters

The disadvantage of the screw filter is also the advantage of the slide-in filter. This means, ..

  • .. for many filter holders there are adapter rings for different focal lengths. For example, I bought a filter holder for the Nikon 14-24 ( my photo equipment ) and a matching adapter ring for the Nikon 24-70mm. This means that the expensive filter glasses can be used on both lenses.
  • I am also much more flexible when using graduated filters. The course of the filter can be adapted to the subject. In a screw filter, the gradient is rigid in the middle.

Disadvantages of slide-in filters

Disadvantage for me is ..

  • the comparatively complex attachment of the filter holder
  • .. and the size and amount of extra baggage

As can be seen in the video, the lens has to be removed for the Haida 150mm filter holder and the filter holder screwed on from behind. The filter bag and filter holder also have to be in the photo backpack.

Screw filter vs. Slide-in filter – how to get in?

For many, the number of filters and filter systems will have grown historically. I speak from my own experience 😉

I succeeded in taking photos with filters through the screw filters. They are easy to assemble and can be stored in the photo backpack to save space. At the same time, you can leave a screw filter on the camera and stow the camera back in the photo backpack. This is ideal, especially with UV or polarizing filters.

I only came across the slide-in filters when I wanted to venture into photography with graduated filters. The uncertainty at the beginning was great ..

  • how do i attach the filter holder?
  • how do I transport the filters safely?
  • … and is it even worth the investment?

I have now found an answer to all of the questions. However, I actually use the holder for taking photos with a graduated filter less because I can get the effect more precisely in Lightroom (see my tutorial: Tips for better photos: an exciting sky ).

Since there are no other ways to use filters for the Nikon 14-24, the filter holder is still used frequently. Then mostly with a polarizing filter.

I hope I was able to give you a small overview of the different filter systems and I am curious what experiences you have had so far.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *