Since I uploaded my “What’s in My Bag” YouTube video and accompanying blog post, I’ve received many questions about what camera filters I use with my Fujifilm system. That’s why I’ve put together this blog post and a new video to answer those questions and show you my go-to filter kit!
It’s great to see an interest in filters because I am an advocate of getting the shot “right” in-camera, or as close to it as possible. Don’t get me wrong, I love Lightroom and Photoshop, and I process each and every image. But my goal is to have the image at least 85% finished when I press the shutter button. Filters have helped me do that in many situations.
My weapon of choice is the Cokin P-Series square filter system. I started with this system many years ago. The relatively low price point makes it a great system for beginners who want to enter the world of filters without spending too much. But even as I advanced, I chose to stick with Cokin because it just works. No, they might not be the highest-end filters available, but they do the job and have helped me produce many wonderful images over the years. Moreover, other manufacturers such as Haida have started making filters that will fit the Cokin system, and they are putting out some great products!
Cokin P173 Blue Yellow Varicolor Polarizer
Fujifilm X-E1 + Samyang 12mm f/2.0
Why Square Filters?
The first reason I chose to go with square filters is because they are versatile. Compared to screw-in filters, which you have to match to your lens diameter, a square filter system will work with a wide range of lens sizes. Just get the corresponding adapter ring for each lens and you can use the same filters on all of your lenses.
Square filters are also quick to install and stackable. The slot-type filters make it easy to swap out and even combine filters for various effects. It also enables the Graduated ND (dark on the top) to be moved up and down, depending on where your horizon is. This isn’t possible with a round screw-in filter.
Cokin P121S Graduated ND 3 Stops
Fujifilm X-E1 + Samyang 12mm f/2.0
Glass vs. Resin
One of the first considerations to make when choosing a filter is what material it is made out of. Most filters you will find will probably be made out of either glass or resin. Resin filters are generally less expensive, but are known to add a color cast to images or degrade image quality, especially when stacking multiple filters. They also scratch more easily. Most of Cokin’s filters are made of resin, but recently they have been putting out newer ND filters made of optical glass as well.
Glass filters, on the other hand, are more expensive but are known to be more neutral. I experienced this myself when I compared my glass Haida Neutral Density filter to my Cokin ND’s. The difference was huge. Glass filters are also heavier and potentially more brittle than resin. However, I’ve dropped my glass filter onto some rocks during a beach shoot and it survived without a scratch! 🙂
Haida ND 3.0 1000x 10-Stop Optical Glass Filter
Fujifilm X-T1 + XF 35mm f/2 WR
Use in Video
Another great reason to use filters is they can be used for shooting video as well. You can use the unique effects of filters to enhance the look of your video. This actually inspired me to make a video showing each filter’s effect, which you can find at the end of this blog post.
These are the filters I carry with me in my travel and landscape kit and what they do:
- Cokin P160 Linear Polarizer – polarizers reduce reflections and glare, therefore enriching colors. They are widely used in landscape photography to enhance water, foliage, and skies. The P160 is a close cousin to the P164, the latter supposedly being better for autofocusing. I use a manual lens for most of my landscapes, so the P160 works great.
- Cokin P154 Neutral Density (ND) Filter – darkens the scene by 3 stops, or down to 12.5%. Useful for doing long exposures.
- Haida ND3.0 1000x 10-stop Filter – darkens the scene even more by 10 stops, or down to 0.1%. This is an extremely dark filter that enables you to do long exposures even in brightly-lit situations. It also enables you to do exposures that are minutes long. The Haida filter is made of high-quality optical glass and adds little to no color cast to the image. In my experience, however, 10 stops is a bit overkill. I’d personally go for a 6-stop next time.
- Cokin P007 Infrared Filter – this filter lets in light from the normally invisible infrared spectrum. This makes for very interesting images, especially when you swap red and blue channels in Photoshop, enhancing the false colors and giving that trademark surreal look.
- Cokin P121S Graduated Neutral Density (GND) Filter – dark at the top and gradually becomes clear towards the middle, this filter is commonly used to darken the sky and even out exposures between the top and bottom of the frame. I prefer softer-edge GND’s for a smoother transition from light to dark, especially when the horizon has mountains or other elements that are not straight.
- Formatt-Hitech Reverse Grad 0.9 ND – much like the GND, this filter darkens only a certain part of the frame. The difference is the reverse gradation,which is specifically useful for sunsets, where the ND is needed closer to the horizon line.
- Cokin P173 Blue Yellow Varicolor Polarizer – this polarizer is different from a regular polarizer in that it introduces color into the image. The blue and yellow tint is perfect for enhancing landscapes, especially around sunrise and sunset. It has the ability to pump up relatively bland sunsets.
Cokin P007 Infrared Filter
Fujifilm X-E1 + Samyang 12mm f/2.0
I love Cokin filters because they work for me. And they don’t break the bank. I totally understand those who want the absolute best of the best and spend thousands of dollars on their filters. Perhaps I will join them someday. But for several years I have been happily making images with Cokin and will probably do so for the foreseeable future. As with any sort of gear or software, if the tool works and helps me make images that I’m happy with, then that’s all I need.
If you have been wondering about what Cokin filters do and want to take a closer look at them, I’ve made a video showing my P-Series kit in-depth, with video footage showing each filter’s effect:
Thanks for reading and see you next time!
*As usual, affiliate links are used to show you the products discussed here. Clicking and shopping using these links helps me out at no additional cost to you! thanks!
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