Best lens filter kit: 9 we recommend
14th Dec 2011 | 14:55
The finest lens filters tested
Camera lens filters come in a range of styles, from inexpensive UV protectors to multicoated pro-grade options with three-figure asking prices.
Their cost is reflected by a number of factors: the optical materials used, as well as the type and number of coatings, for example, all of which determine how well they can transmit light and reduce reflections.
Their external construction also varies with price; more expensive filters boast shallow profiles to minimise vignetting, where the edges of the frame darken due to the edges of the filter creating an obstruction.
There are many varieties available, but here's our selection of our favourite camera lens filter kits and ND Grad filter kits, all but one of them available for under £100.
Cokin H250A ND Graduated Filter Kit - £50
Graduated Neutral Density filters even out exposure differences in landscapes and these square filters are particularly useful. The kit comes with P121L (one-stop), P121M (two-stop) and P121S (three-stop) filters of darkening, plus a standard filter holder, so the only extra you need is an adaptor ring, which costs about £13.
We identified a little vignetting on ultra-wide lenses, but a wide-angle filter holder is also available for around £13.
Hoya Pro1 Digital Twin Filter Kit (58mm) - £75
These filters are super-slim to cut the risk of vignetting and have advanced multi-coated surfaces to reduce ghosting and flare. This kit combines a clear lens protection filter and a circular polariser to add drama to landscapes.
Cokin H200A Portrait 1 Filter Kit - £40
This kit's P027 81B warm-up filter will give you warm skin tones. The P840 Diffuser 2 gives a soft-focus look and a flattering finish. Finally, a P071 Centre Spot Warm Incolour 2 filter keeps the central area of the frame sharp while throwing everything else out of focus.
Hoya Pro1 Digital ND4 and ND8 (58mm) - £90
On sunny days, ND filters enable you to use large apertures to minimise depth of field. These screw-in, non-graduated filters offer a two- or three-stop reduction respectively, or you can use both for a five-stop reduction.
Cokin H117 Creative Filter Kit - £60
Cokin's P-Series kits typically include a filter holder that can accommodate up to three square filters and three filters. You get the P056 Star 8 filter for turning lights into stars, a P123 Gradual Blue to turn grey skies blue and a P830 Diffuser 1 for a soft-focus effect.
Kood Close-Up Set (58mm) - £35
A cut-price alternative to a macro lens, this kit comprises three different filters of +1, +2 and +3 dioptres, which you can use individually or together – attaching all three for a +7 dioptre magnification. Sharpness and contrast are compromised, but it's a good budget solution.
SRB P-size ND Grad Kit - £46
Unusually, this high-quality resin-based filter set includes not three but four P-sized ND grads, adding a four-stop ND16 to the usual mix of ND2, ND4 and ND8 filters. This means that up to four stops of light can be cut from the brightest part of an image using a single filter. This should be more than enough for most situations, but if not, the filters can be used together.
The filter holder costs an additional £5 and is identical to the Cokin P-series holder. Thanks in part to their chamfered corners, the filters slip in to the holder easily.
SRB filters come in a choice of soft or hard transitions; hard is best for clean horizons, while soft works better for trees or mountains. At this price you can afford to buy both. We found the filters are neutral and didn't impart any colour cast, making them ideal for retaining detail in white clouds.
Hitech 100mm ND Grad Kit - £71
This collection of three filters is available with either soft-edge or hard-edge transitions. Excellent quality is matched by a superbly engineered aluminium filter holder, although this costs an extra £56. The holder includes a front-mounting adaptor ring to enable you to fit extra 105mm screw-in filters or a lens hood.
Kood Pro Series 84mm Filter System - £12
These individual Kood filters slot into a Cokin P-series holder. They cost a little more than half the price of similar Cokin filters. However, Kood only make ND grads in ND2 and ND4 options (soft or hard transition).
Liked this? Then check out Best DSLR: top cameras by price and brand
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