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Astroklar light pollution filters to combat light contamination – for astrophotography & 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 reduces yellow colour casts resulting from light pollution and the gloomy night sky for nocturnal landscape and 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?

There is scarcely any city or landscape photographer, who doesn’t love them: 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 night sky with a multiplicity of stars and celestial objects in the background. But the artificial sources of light in our large cities provide for a phenomenon that is increasingly affecting rural areas in close proximity to cities and for any photographer, who has already been involved in astrophotography/deep sky photography or night photography, it is a term - light pollution, also known as light smog. This reduces the contrast between celestial objects and the night sky that has been brightened by city lighting and/or artificial sources of light since artificial light radiates into the atmosphere. Thus, frequently a yellow colour cast is also created in night shots of a city or a landscape and the starlit sky just appears to be dark. The multiple stars and their beauty are no longer visible. Likewise, a night sky that is actually dark blue and cool becomes a dull grey haze above the brightly 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 night photographs. In rural areas the Astroklar filter improves photography of the starlit sky in addition, by intensifying the contrast between the night sky and stars, which is reduced by light pollution. In this way, you can produce clear pictures of the starlit sky and natural city and landscape photographs with nocturnal “coolness” and no yellow cast. That facilitates editing as well since you can obtain better contrasts and prolong the exposure time in situations where you previously had to stop down already without filters because of light pollution due to disruptive city light.

It is precisely for this reason that our special Astroklar photo filters are suitable not only for night photography but also for astrophotography because they make more detailed pictures with a significantly clearer, higher-contrast representation of the stars and deep sky astronomical objects possible. In the process our Astroklar filter reduces the incidence of light by a 2/3 aperture.

Left: Without an Astroklar filter 

Right: With an Astroklar filter

How Rollei’s night light filters function 

You have to understand exactly how so-called light domes develop in order to understand exactly how the night light filters of the Astroklar series 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 once 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 imbued with light. A city with approximately 25,000 inhabitants is sufficient to light up the sky within a radius of approx. 20 kilometres and thus to disrupt astrophotography and both city and landscape photography at night by means of light pollution. It is therefore a question of a concomitant effect of industrialization. 

This light dome appears yellow and orange, because the sources of light causing it generally just radiate light of these yellow and orange-coloured wavelengths into the atmosphere. The largest producers of light smog are industrial plants, large cities and strongly directed emitters such 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 these can no longer reach the sensor of the camera. In this way, the results of nocturnal city and landscape photography or of astrophotography are cleared up 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 manual white balance for example to 3,600 K when it’s dark and to correct the colour temperature for the shot of between +700 K and +1,500 K upward from the selected white balance without a filter in order to guarantee colour fidelity at night and to 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 stand, attach the camera and install the remote release
  2. Select the desired subject & 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 push in the Astroklar plug-in filters very easily. In addition, the clearly audible sound when the filter holder clicks into place prevents the latter 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 rectangular 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. On the other hand, light wavelengths of other colours come through without a problem. In addition, the fact that our night light filters behave extremely neutrally above all within the IR range is a large advantage for astrophotography.

The double-sided nanocoating

Likewise, 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 rectangular or round filters?

This depends above all on personal preferences. There are differences particularly with respect to the possibility of combining different filters. Thus, you can already incorporate 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 rectangular- 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 rectangular 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 rectangular filters regardless of 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 with the use of graduated filters since you can adapt the filter gradient here in accordance with the picture composition.

Round filters are then used mostly 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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