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Buying camera lens filters by Rollei - optical lens filters for decelerated image composition with discernment

For years the Rollei Company has represented genuine quality and smart functionality in photo filters and thus provides a wide variety of optical correction filters for a DSLR camera and lens, which you can buy directly in our on-line shop. The optical camera filters have become the passion of our managing director, Thomas Güttler, who provides support for every new product from the initial design to the test series in the company’s own Rollei laboratories. Above all colour neutrality, high light transmission, avoidance of optical distortion, durable low-maintenance filter glass, as well as smart functions, which satisfy all the requirements of modern professional and amateur photographers, are thus our personal standard for any lens filter that leaves our warehouse. Especially in times of smartphone photography and the selfie generation, where we produce pictures incessantly, patient picture composition - Slow Photography – has become something that is dear to the heart of the Rollei Company and of its managing director. And optical photo filters are an indispensable tool of this art of conscious landscape, urban and architectural photography. Let the hectic flood of images with our products pass by and create pictures that are lasting memories of moments and subjects that are impressive. And with the assistance of our high-quality, multicoated, resistant ND Filters, Polarising Filters, Astroklar Filters, UV Filters and Grey Gradient Filters. It doesn’t matter whether you are on holidays, in the Arctic, in the Sahara or in natural surroundings at your front door, dimensional stability, durability and reliability are guaranteed with our camera filters.  You will find the best lens filter for every job, every situation, every subject, every landscape and every lens you will find in our Mark II, Rock Solid, Extremium and Premium series. Get to know our products for plug-in filter systems and our screw-on filters, as well as their unique, individual advantages and characteristics. In our blog section on the topic of camera filters you will also find many Tips for Filter Photography & Use of the individual kinds of filters. Because especially beginners working with photo filters often find themselves in a labyrinth of technical terms, techniques and filter types, out of which we would like to help you.

Rollei Managing Director, Thomas Güttler engaged in landscape photography with optical photo filters from our range.

For what do photographers actually need photo filters?

The Alpha and Omega of picture composition, apart from an experienced eye and patience, is the option of being able to adjust the exposure time optimally, to obtain colour balance with high dynamic range and thus many contrasts in a subject and to guarantee colour neutrality and light transmission at the same time. Also filtering of reflections or the intensification of certain colour shades is fundamental in many subjects and scenes. The core competency of Rollei’s camera filters is the conscious mastery of these situations irrespective of daylight or weather. Also digital image processing of the RAW files still cannot take over much of this work. No image processing programme can take the place of photo filters in the reduction or intensification of contrasts and the orchestration of elaborate structures such as clouds and skies. At least not with the same quality and precision. In the process, each camera filter helps in its own way to reduce the beam of light on the image sensor (ND Filters & Grey Gradient Filters) or to filter specific light waves (CPL Filters / Polarising Filters & Astroklar Night Filters in order to remove reflections on non-metallic surfaces such as water surfaces or windows for example and to intensify green and blue tones in nature. Or in order to compensate for light pollution due to artificial sources of light for nocturnal photography or astrophotography.

Overall, photo filters are thus used to:

  • To master difficult light, subjects and scenes (e.g. crowds of people in front of buildings, long-term exposure in bright daylight, light pollution at night, darkening of the frequently overexposed sky, in order to lend the upper half of the image more structure and strength in the case of city or landscape photography or to avoid underexposure of the foreground)
  • To control the light balance with high dynamic range (e.g. sunset or an uneven horizon line with many contrasts)
  • To intensify colour shades and to reduce reflections (e.g. to intensify reflections on water surfaces or windows and blue and green in nature)
  • To control the image display purposefully and to slow down photography

What is distinctive about Rollei’s photo filters?

The Rollei photo filters…

  • have multiple dirt-repellent & scratch-resistant coatings
  • prevent optical distortions
  • guarantee the highest degree of colour fidelity
  • guarantee a high degree of light transmission
  • are usually manufactured from extremely sturdy Gorilla® glass
  • checked in accordance with special measuring procedures and narrow technical provisions and tested several times (beyond the AQL principle)
  • Extremium: the filter glasses of the new Extremium screw-on photo filter series are also enclosed in a titanium ring that remains dimensionally stable even in extreme temperatures and that isn’t set in the lens thread for example.

Gorilla® Glass:

  • extremely durable and scratch-resistant
  • prevents cracks by means of very high surface tension due to an ion exchange process in an extremely hot, alkaline solution
  • Is impressive due to its high degree of light transmission and freedom from distortion
  • this special glass from the traditional American manufacturer is also used for tough displays and screens
  • 160 years of experience in the production and coating of glass
  • prevents damage and material alteration due to solar radiation
  • optical characteristics of the photo filters still survive contamination due to fat, water and oil

Luminance Coating & Unbreakable Coating

  • prevents incidental occurrence of light effects/reflections, which would destroy the careful screen layout
  • in spite of a coating that limits reflections there is absolute colour fidelity and insensitivity due to a high degree of mechanical ruggedness.
  • Is an additional enhancement of the photo filters, which are already made from durable, colour-neutral Gorilla® glass
  • optical reference values for the homogeneous curve of the colors between 400 to 800 nm – if these are not reached, the filter glass will not be processed further
  • The Unbreakable Coating of the Rock Solid series prevents bursting of the filter glasses, if these fall from a height of up to 1.2 metres between 3 and 10 times

Engineered and Quality Controlled in Germany

  • Very strict quality assurance and narrow tolerance values
  • All production steps are aligned to the pre-defined optical criteria
  • After the release of the production samples by our experts a strict quality control procedure is implemented in accordance with the AQL standard (Acceptance quality limit), which goes beyond a mere projection from samples. If the maximum number of unsatisfactory samples is exceeded, the entire production batch is rejected.
  • After the delivery of the successfully tested merchandise another AQL examination is conducted.
  • Filters that do not meet our strict requirements will not be sold as Rollei filters that are Engineered and Quality Controlled in Germany.

The different ranges of application of photo filters

Which photo filter now actually does what? Where are the differences? Which photo filter do I need for which subjects and lighting conditions? Which combination options are there?

Mark II, Rock Solid, Premium & Extremium ND filters/Grey filters

Due to reduction of the quantity of light, which hits the sensor of your camera, you can implement long exposure times and photography with the widest aperture in the day time for example, e.g. in order to filter people out of architecture photographs or to make water surfaces appear to be velvety smooth and to decrease the shutter speed overall. For that you need evenly grey-coloured filter glass, which can guarantee colour neutrality owing to special neutral grey tinting and at the same time reduces the quantity of light on the whole surface. Grey filters (also called ND filters / Neutral density filters) are available in various strengths and series, which differ in how greatly they reduce the quantity of light and with respect to whether they are purchased for filter holders or as screw-on filters. When it comes to strength so-called F-stop-reduction or aperture increments are mentioned. Filters are designated in accordance with the so-called ND strength, thus ND8, ND64, ND1000 etc. The higher this value is, the longer the possible exposure duration in daylight. Without neutral grey photo filters shutter speeds of several seconds with an open aperture would result in completely white pictures, since it then ends in overexposure. 

Grey filters are available as screw-on filters and plug-in filters for filter holders:

  • Rock Solid 100-mm ND plug-in filter (Unbreakable Coating / Gorilla® Glass / ND8 / ND64 / ND1000)
  • Mark II ND 100-mm/ 150-mm ND plug-in filter (Luminance Coating / Gorilla® Glass / ND8 / ND32 / ND64 / ND1000 / ND2000)
  • Premium & Extremium screw-on filters (49-mm – 82-mm lens thread / Luminance Coating / Gorilla® Glass / ND8 / ND64 / ND1000)

ND filters for:  

  • long time shots in daylight without overexposure
  • larger aperture openings without affecting the colour and contrast of a subject
  • velvety smooth water surfaces, cloud courses or filtering out people from architectural shots

Polarising filters / CPL filters – Premium and Extremium screw-on filters

A polarising filter / CPL filter filters polarized light and thus, for example, the reflection of the blue sky on the water or in windows. This effect can never be duplicated with digital image processing. By turning the filter you can determine to what extent reflections should be reduced or blue and green should be intensified and can observe the result right away through the viewfinder. This is helpful in order to produce a transparent water surface that is free from mirror images in landscape photography, for instance, or to remove reflections on windowpanes in architectural photography. In product photography as well, these camera filters, which are also called polarization filters, are important for reducing mirror images on non-metallic surfaces.  They are available as screw-on filters or rectangular filters as they are attached in front of the lens and are adapted to the effect on the light situation by turning the filter or filter holder. Here, Rollei polarization filters are impressive due to corrugated surfaces for turning or due to a cleverly devised mechanism on the 100-mm filter holder, which is also easy to locate and operate using gloves or cold hands.

Polarising filters are available as plug-in and screw-on filters

  • For 100-mm rectangular filter photographers a polarising filter is available in a diameter of 82 mm for the rectangular filter holder. In the 150-mm system there is a rectangular polarising filter with the dimensions of 150 x 150 mm.
  • Extremium polarising filters are enclosed in a titanium ring, which withstands extreme temperatures and therefore guarantees dimensional stability
  • Premium & Extremium polarising filters are made of Gorilla® glass, have a Luminance Coating and are available for all lens threads between 49 mm and 82 mm

Polarising filters for:

  • Filtering mirror images and reflections on water surfaces, windows and non-metallic surfaces
  • Intensification of green and blue

Grey gradient /GND filters - Mark II and Rock Solid GND plug-in filters

The human eye perceives high-contrast lighting conditions substantially better than a camera. Thus we see both dark and bright areas in a good intensity. Cameras cannot shoot details of very bright and very dark areas at the same time, such as during a sunrise or sunset for example or in the case of other subjects with high dynamic range, thus many different contrasts and lighting conditions. Frequently for example details of the design and structure of the mainly overexposed sky and the under-exposed area in the foreground and/or in the lower half of the image of a subject are lost although the eye perceives them. Grey process filters, which are also called GND (graduated neutral density) filters are used here, in particular. In their function, they resemble the normal grey filters. However they are not coloured evenly in neutral grey but have a hard, medium soft or reverse grey gradient. In this way forms a more or less hard line, which can be adapted to the horizon, is formed on the filter glass. Grey gradient filters are available exclusively as plug-in filters, since they are adapted to lighting conditions and the dynamics of a subject by sliding them up and down in the filter holder. Less light reaches the sensor from overexposed areas and more arrives from under-exposed areas. Thus, you obtain impressive lines in the sky and lend it more structure, while subjects with high dynamic range are captured in richer detail at the same time.

For example in the case of rugged mountain landscapes, forested areas with heterogeneous vegetation or urban subjects without a clear horizon line. Here you use a soft grey gradient (soft GND) without a clearly detectable dividing line.  However, if the horizon line is straight, the gradient can also be harder (hard GND filters), as bright and dark areas are clearly separated, e.g. in the case of photographs at the sea. However, for photographs of a sunset or a sunrise you resort to a reverse GND filter since the brightest area is to be found in the middle of the subject here (the sun) and the grey gradient therefore diminishes from the centre outward instead of the other way round. Therefore it is also a “reverse grey gradient“. In situations, where it would be best to combine a soft and a hard GND filter, a medium GND filter is used. Perfect for atmospheric and excitingly illuminated city panoramas, horizons and mountains. In addition you obtain gradient filters is well as ND filters in various strengths and thus with various f-stops /aperture increment reduction both for 100-mm and for 150-mm filter holder systems.

Grey gradient filters are available as Mark II or Rock Solid plug-in filters:

  • Mark II 100-mm / 150-mm GND plug-in filters (Luminance Coating/Gorilla® glass/Hard GND/Soft GND/Reverse GND/GND8/GND16/GND32)
  • Rock solid 100-mm GND plug-in filter (Unbreakable Coating / Gorilla® glass / Hard GND / Soft GND / Medium GND / Reverse GND / GND4 / GND8 / GND16)

Grey gradient filters for:

  • Subjects with different lighting conditions / high dynamic range
  • Photographs at the sea
  • Sunrises and sunsets
  • Urban subjects, rugged mountain landscapes or forested areas with  a horizon line that is not clearly defined
  • More structured definition of the sky and clouds

UV filters - Premium & Extremium screw-on filters for 49-mm – 82-mm lenses

UV filters from Rollei are particularly impressive as screw-on filters for expensive lenses. Because they are also manufactured from durable Gorilla® glass and coated multiple times with Luminance Coating. Due to their colour neutrality they can be left on the lens for an extended period of time, as long as no other screw-on filter is to be used and can also thus remain on the thread as a lens protector for example. So the resistant filter glass protects the lens from damage, if it falls or is put at risk by other effects such as pointed objects.  Replacing a UV filter is considerably more economical than purchasing a new lens. Contrary to what their name may suggest, today they serve mainly as inexpensive, durable lens protection. Because the other function of the UV filter, filtering UV light, which otherwise would have damaged the sensor on old cameras and would have rendered the photographs useless, normally takes the place today of a UV protective layer on the camera sensor that is already integrated. Thus, in the case of UV filters, the emphasis should be primarily on durable, high-quality glass so that lenses receive optimal protection.  

UV filters are available as Premium & Extremium screw-on filters:

  • Extremium UV filters are enclosed in a titanium ring, which withstands extreme temperatures and therefore guarantees dimensional stability
  • Premium & Extremium UV filters are made of Gorilla® glass, have a Luminance Coating and are available for all lens threads between 49 mm and 82 mm

UV filters for:

  • Lens protection
  •  Filtering of UV light

Astroklar nocturnal filters – screw-on & plug-in filters

Screw-on filters and rectangular filters in the Astroklar series are used as so-called Night filters.  Artificial sources of light such as spotlights and lanterns in cities provide for the so-called light pollution, which wraps subjects at night in a yellowish “light dome” and thus has a negative effect on the clarity of the starlit sky. Astroklar filters filter the light of yellow and orange wavelengths in order to facilitate photography with a clear starlit sky or a cold nocturnal atmosphere, for instance. For this a special Coating (finish) is applied to the filter glass, which exclusively blocks light of the appropriate wavelengths.

Astroklar filters are available as plug-in and screw-on filters:

  • Astroklar plug-in filters for 100-mm and 150-mm filter holders (special double-sided nano-coating /dirt, oil and water-repellent and neutral within the IR light range)
  • Astroklar screw-on filters for 39-mm and 105-mm lenses (special double-sided nano-coating /dirt, oil and water-repellent and neutral within the IR light range)

Plug-in or screw-on filters? 

That depends above all on how much and what equipment you possess and particularly want to carry, on which lenses you use you and on what kind of photographer you are. Both the Mark II and Rock Solid plug-in filters, as well as the Premium and Extremium circular filters have their advantages and disadvantages - depending upon their range of application and the kind of the photography. In addition some filters are available exclusively as screw-in filters or for filter holders. Thus, it also depends on which photo filters you would explicitly like to buy.

Plug-in filter systems - Rollei Mark II & Rock Solid 100-mm and 150-mm plug-in filters:

  • Foam material prevents the penetration of light between the filter glass and the lens in the case of ND filters.
  • Filter holders can be screwed onto all the prevalent lens sizes thanks to adaptor rings
  • Plug-in filter systems are impressive due to the simple option of combining them with up to three filter types without vignetting
  • Gradient filters can be easily shifted in order to adapt the darkened area to the subject
  • Fast filter change: each filter can be immediately changed independently and simply
  • Grey gradient filters are available exclusively for filter holders
  • Gorilla® glass -- durable, distortion-free and with a high degree of light transmission
  • Luminance Coating the highest degree of colour fidelity, scratch-resistant, dirt-repellent and with the slightest reflections
  • Engineered & Quality Controlled in Germany -- strict technical specifications, special measurement procedures and individual quality checks in Germany (AQL standard)
  • Rock Solid series: the Rock Solid series receives a special Unbreakable Coating, which demonstrably protects the filter against damage from a fall from a height of up to 1.20 metres as can be prove against damages (number of falls up to a maximum of 10)
  • Easy-lock system – the filter holder is very securely mounted and also withstands a lot of hustle and bustle.  By simply mounting the filter holder and the adaptor ring without the use of force by turning and pressing you will also prevent the focal length that was previously painstakingly set and the picture section from shifting due to subsequent attachment of the filter holder. 
  • An additional CPL filter can be used in the base ring of the 100-mm filter holder
  • The slow work with a tripod and filter system leads automatically to more deceleration and thus to more image composition -- our main concern
  • Special filter holders are suitable for lenses without filter threads, which do not permit the use of screw-on filters (e.g. Tamron SP 15-3-0mm wide-angle lens, the Nikon AF-S Zoom-Nikkor 14-24-mm 1:2.8G ED lens and the Canon EF 11-24 mm)
  • Available as plug-in filters: Astroklar filters, ND filters, GND filters and CPL filters (150 mm)
  • Not available as plug-in filters: UV filters

Screw-on filters - Premium & Extremium for 49 mm – 82 mm lens thread

  • Are screwed directly into the lens thread  
  • UV filters are available exclusively as screw-on filters
  • Prevent scattered light/vignetting between filter and lens
  • Need no accessories such as adaptor rings and filter holders
  • Can be used for lens protection
  • Considerable lighter than plug-in filters and therefore comfortable to transport
  • The lens with the filter screwed on also fits into the photo bag or the  lens pouch
  • Screw-on filters facilitate more inconspicuous photography and faster use of the prepared lens
  • Gorilla® glass -- durable, distortion-free and with a high degree of light transmission
  • Luminance Coating – the highest degree of colour fidelity, scratch-resistant, dirt-repellent and with the slightest reflections
  • Engineered & Quality Controlled in Germany -- strict technical specifications, special measurement procedures and individual quality checks in Germany (AQL standard)
  • Extremium: the camera screw-on filters of the Extremium series are also equipped with a dimensionally stable, temperature-resistant titanium ring
  • Space saving in your rucksack (normally you have 1-2 screw-on filters with you)
  • Available as screw-on filters: Astroklar filters, ND filters, CPL filter, UV filters and Dark CPL filters
  • Not available as screw-on filters: GND filters

Screw-on filters are thus particularly suitable for press and urban photographers, who must often be versatile and move in large crowds of people. In addition some street photographers consciously want to work inconspicuously in order to capture people and situations authentically. Here you wouldn’t get very far with a filter holder or a plug-in filter system. In addition screw-on filters are more convenient and more compact and thus also ideally suitable for flexible travel photographers and beginners in filter photography, who possibly travel with only a holster bag and a lens pouch, instead of with a fully packed rucksack.

Plug-in filters/filter holders are particularly suitable for conscious, patient landscape and architectural photographers, who can work with a tripod and compose a picture undisturbed and without any great time pressure. In addition they weigh substantially more than screw-on filters, and for this reason they are recommended for photographers, who have already been involved in the pursuit for a long time and have sufficiently large equipment + a photo rucksack.

What should you look for when you are purchasing a camera filter?

  • Coating - camera filters should be multicoated if possible. That is the case for all Rollei photo filters. Furthermore, the coating is dirt-repellent, is protective against dust and cracks and guarantees optimal light transmission
  • Colour neutrality & optical distortions -- despite the reduction of incidental light by neutral grey shading, our filters guarantee colour neutrality. We also ensure that there is freedom from distortion by means of our complex quality assurance process and our proprietary testing procedure in a filter machine
  • Which size -- buy the correct size for your lens thread or a filter holder that you may have already
  • Screw-on or plug-in filters -- are you a rather conscious landscape photographer, do you want to combine different filters with one another and capture details by means of gradient filters or do you wish primarily to take photos with filters in a space-saving and uncomplicated manner?
  • Which filter do I actually need? In principle, it is advisable to be prepared for all eventualities and to hold several filters in readiness. But in any case you should familiarise yourself precisely with the function and the areas of application of the different photo filters, before you decide on a purchase. You will learn more about each of the camera filters in the blog and on the respective category pages
  • Filter glass – the quality and durability of the filter glass are also crucial of course. Our filters are made from Gorilla® glass and thus satisfy all the requirements that a photographer can only have of a photo filter

Accessories that are worthy of recommendation for photo filters

  • Tripods – in principle, we recommend the purchase of a tripod if you purchase a photo filter. Because extended exposure times in particular are only possible with a tripod. Filter holders for plug-in filters are heavier into the bargain. Here, blur-free, good results are virtually impossible if they are used freehand.
  • Remote releases – make greater flexibility and a better overview from the picture layout right to the shot possible.  They also facilitate vibration-free release.
  • Rectangular filter bag – for comfortable, secure storage of filter holders and plug-in filters
  • Photo bags & lens pouches – for secure, comfortable storage of screw-on filters and + lenses
  • Filter holders & adaptor rings – adaptor rings make universal use of your filter holder possible regardless of the lens thread that is used. The filter holder per se is indispensable for the use of your plug-in photo filters

The Rollei Filter Machine for Flawless Quality & Colour Fidelity

How can we actually guarantee the absolute colour neutrality of our photo filters with such certainty? On the one hand, we guarantee the quality of every one of our photo filters that bears the Rollei name by means of our internal quality assurance system in accordance with strict tolerances.  Something more is still needed especially for the optimal light transmission, freedom from distortion and colour fidelity – above all, know-how and the right technology.  Naturally, we conduct long-term tests with all of our photo filters and take photographs under the most diverse weather and lighting conditions with a subsequent analysis of the results. But before it ever gets that far, we carry out special measurements of individual filter glasses in order to determine light transmission and colour neutrality, for example, accurately and verifiably above all.  This is done with the help of our filter machine, which we developed ourselves and which covers a colour spectrum from the UV to the IR range and also measures light transmission on a large number of measuring points based on the type of photo filter.

Another Brand Manufacturer’s ND4 Filters

  • Strong fluctuations = low colour neutrality
  • High component of blue green and red

Rollei ND8 filters

  • Homogeneous curve over the entire colour spectrum = high colour neutrality
  • Light transmission approx. 12% (target value)

In combination with our “Engineered & Quality Controlled in Germany” principles we can thus ensure that all of our photo filters guarantee absolute colour fidelity and optimal light transmission and set this also in relation to the competition. It doesn’t matter which of our camera filters you decide to choose, it will always fulfill its task reliably and with the utmost professionalism.

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