Why You Need a Filter Kit for Landscape Photography

What filters do I need for landscape photography? This is one of the more common questions I hear or see from fellow photographers. 

I have my favourite go-to filter kit for landscape photography that I will share with you as well as some reasons to have lens filters in the first place.

Filter kit can mean a couple of different things to different photographers, so let me clarify first what I’m calling a filter kit these days.  

One photographer may refer to their various screw-in landscape photography filters as a filter kit. For instance, when I shot film, I carried around a pouch of my most used filters such as the polarizer, warming filter to compensate for cool skylight when shooting color, plus a set of step up and step down rings.  

The other definition of filter kit is something like the Haida M15 Filter Kit. In other words, a filter holder with adapters for various lenses and a mix of very usable filters for digital photography such as neutral density (ND), graduated neutral density (GND), and circular polarizer (C-POL) filters. This is what I usually mean now when discussing filter kits.

Why Use Lens Filters In Digital Photography

Since we have so much post processing capability with digital photography, are there reasons to have lens filters as part of our gear. Reverse GND filters are best used in sunset or sunrise situations where you need extra density near the center third of the image, but they can be used anywhere with some creative thought. I tend to go a little darker on the density, the ND 0.9 GND (3 stop) is my usual choice.

There are good reasons to have lens filters for our modern DSLRs and mirrorless cameras. The one that jumps out at me is that you can’t post-process everything. Even with the marvelous programs we have available to us, some issues are better handled in camera.

This seems especially true with our landscape photography filters. While I might be able to use or some other program to adjust for color balance and certain exposure issues, I find that if I limit my use of post processing to tweaks, as opposed to major changes, I get consistently better results.

Additionally, there are some things that simply can’t be done after the exposure. Handling polarized light and attenuating the overall exposure value of a scene are two situations that require physical lens filters.

These filters are why I got into the Haida system in the first place. Combining their rectangular shape with the magnetic mount system makes thes GND extremely versatile and useful.  

I use this type of filter to balance out the extremes of light and dark in certain scenes without requiring me to spend hours on the computer for what I consider substandard results.

The GND 0.6 hard edge filter gives a hard but not instant edge between clear and ND. That plus the ease of positioning allows for precise placement of the filter, such as on an horizon or turned vertically for urban landscape uses such as against a building. A softer edge version is also made for all of the densities.