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Astroklar filters to combat light pollution – for astrophotography and night photography

Astroklar filters are night light filters made from optical glass and are available both as screw-on filters for 67-mm, 72-mm, 77-mm and 82-mm lenses and as plug-in filters for 100-mm and 150-mm plug-in filter systems. The special coating on the filter reduces yellow colour casts resulting from light pollution and the gloomy night sky for nocturnal landscape, city shots and astrophotography. But what exactly does that mean?

  • How does the Astroklar filter work against light pollution?
  • How do pictures with and without the Astroklar filter differ?
  • How do I use the Astroklar filter?
  • What is distinctive about Rollei’s Astroklar filters?

Wether you are a fan of cityscapes or landscapes are more your thing, most photographers love taking pictures and photography at night with a clear starlit sky. Nocturnal city photographs of a skyline or breath-taking landscape shots at night with an impressive starry sky and celestial objects in the background can produce the most stunning images. However, the artificial sources of light in our large cities are increasingly affecting rural areas in close proximity to cities. This is known as light pollution or light smog which reduces the contrast between celestial objects and the night sky that has been brightened by city lighting and/or artificial sources of light. Often, a yellow colour cast is also created in night shots of a city or a landscape and the starlit sky appears darker than it actually is. The multiple stars and their beauty are hardly visible. The other problem photographers face is a night sky that is actually dark blue and cool becomes a dull grey haze above the illuminated skyline. Some examples of artificial sources of light include street lighting, video walls, neon signs, floodlights and industrial lighting.

  

Left: Without an Astroklar filter 

Right: With an Astroklar filter

The Astroklar filter, which is  also known as a light pollution filter or a night light filter, gives the night sky its cool darkness back and removes the typical yellow cast from photographs taken at night. In rural areas, the Astroklar filter improves photography of the starlit sky by intensifying the contrast between the night sky and stars. By using the Astroklar filter, you can produce clear pictures of the starry sky and natural city and landscape photographs with nocturnal “coolness” and no yellow cast. This also helps when it comes to editing since you can obtain better contrasts and prolong the exposure time in situations where you previously had to stop down because of the problematic light pollution.

Therefore, our special Astroklar photo filters are suitable not only for night photography but also for astrophotography because they help you to capture more detailed pictures with a significantly clearer representation of the stars and other astronomical objects. When using our Astroklar filter the incidence of light is reduced by a 2/3 aperture.

Left: Without an Astroklar filter 

Right: With an Astroklar filter

How Rollei’s night light filters function 

A city with approximately 25,000 inhabitants is sufficient to light up the sky within a radius of approximately 20 kilometres and therefore causes light pollution problems for astrophotography and night photography. 

It is important to know exactly how light domes develop in order to understand how Astroklar night light filters function, and how astrophotography and night photography are facilitated by them. The part of the artificial light that is radiated upward into the atmosphere reflects again on the atmospheric layers, as well as on atmospheric dust and water and is thus scattered over a wide area. In this way, a so-called light dome is created as the air is brightened and perneated with light. 

This light dome appears yellow and orange, because the sources of light causing it generally just radiate light of yellow and orange-coloured wavelengths into the atmosphere. The largest producers of light smog are industrial plants, large cities, even as the high beams of cars and light art such as Skybeamers and laser shows. This light smog then envelopes nocturnal subjects like a kind of shroud, which adds a yellowish tinge to the natural, nocturnal light and reduces the visibility of stars.

Our Astroklar filters are provided with a special coating that largely allows all light waves of the entire chromatic spectrum to pass through and predominantly blocks yellow and orange-coloured light wavelengths so that these colours can no longer reach the sensor of the camera. In this way, the results of nocturnal city and landscape photography or astrophotography are much clearer and appear to be much richer in detail, with more brilliance and structure, which previously remained hidden due to the light smog.

For comparison – a picture with and without an Astroklar light pollution filter 

Nonetheless, due to the night light filter, photographs also appear at first to be a lot cooler because the cooler colours become even clearer due to filtering and the associated reduction of yellow and orange light waves. Here we recommend that you set the white balance manually. For example, if your white balance at night is 3,600K without a filter then you would need to increase it to around 4,500K when using the filter. This will ensure colour fidelity at night and counteract the “coolness” that can be expected.

  

Left: Without an Astroklar filter 

Right: With an Astroklar filter

Guide – how do I use Astroklar filters?

  1. Set up your tripod, attach the camera and install the remote release
  2. Select the desired subject and set the image section
  3. Set the manual white balance to 3,600 K for example
  4. If necessary, counteract a cool colour temperature, by increasing the white balance to from +700 K to +1,500 K
  5. The Astroklar screw-on filters can simply be screwed onto the lens by means of the thread.
  6. Also the mounting plate for the 100-mm and 150-mm plug-in filter system can easily be attached. Then you can insert the Astroklar plug-in filters very easily. In addition, the clearly audible sound when the filter holder clicks into place prevents the filter from falling down due to an incorrectly fastened mounting plate.
  7. Set the exposure time and shoot the subject with a remote release.

What distinguishes Rollei’s Astroklar filters Das Coating

The coating

Both the Astroklar screw-on filters and the square filters for the filter holder have a special coating that filters light pollution caused by yellow and orange-coloured light waves, which are emitted from the usual sources of artificial light such as street lighting. Light wavelengths of other colours come through without a problem. In addition, the fact that our night light filters behave neutrally within the IR range is a large advantage for astrophotography.

The double-sided nanocoating

Both filter types have a special nanocoating, which not only prevents reflections, but is also water, oil and dirt-repellent. In addition, the filter glass can be cleaned very easily. 

Astroklar square or round filters?

This depends above all on personal preference. There are differences particularly when combining different filters. You can already add a CPL filter into the 100-mm filter holder for our plug-in systems and combine it very easily with your plug-in filters. All of our Astroklar light pollution filters – regardless of whether they are round or square - ensure that night skies are clear with numerous stars and that nocturnal photography is more detailed and structured without yellowish-orange light pollution.

 

Left: Without an Astroklar filter 

Right: With an Astroklar filter

Advantages of square filters:

  • Different filters can be combined more easily
  • CPL filters can be integrated into the 100-mm filter holder
  • When ND filters are used in addition, a foam material cover protects against light penetration between holders and filters

Advantages of round filters:

  • Can be screwed directly onto the lens
  • Substantially lighter in weight
  • Provide a lightproof seal between the lens and the filter

All photographers can use round or square filters whether they are amateurs or professionals. It depends on whether you already have a filter system and would also like to use several filters as well. For the most part, just when it’s a question of combining filters, this is simpler to accomplish with a plug-in filter system than with round filters. In this case, filters can then be inserted into the filter slots of the rectangular filter holder. This is helpful particularly when using graduated filters since you can adapt the filter gradient here in accordance with the picture composition.

Round filters are used if you only want to use a certain type of filter. So, if you only need a Rollei Astroklar filter and have a lens with a screw thread, then you can simply screw the filter on and take photographs. No further filter equipment is required.

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