How to choose lens filters for time lapse

Oct 20, 2022    6 min read

How to choose lens filters for time lapse

When it comes to the time lapse genre, some of the best subjects we find are out there in nature. However, the charm of capturing time lapses of natural elements is entirely different.

While creating outdoor time lapses is an exciting experience, we cannot deny that we get a tad bit worried about our gear - which is placed outdoors for a long time.

It’s essential to protect your gear and secure it to ensure it is safe and sound and does not get damaged easily. One such piece accessory you can consider investing in is the lens filter.

Lens filters may be just another tiny accessory, but apart from securing your lens, they help you introduce creative effects in your time lapse.

A set of lens filters are must-haves in every time lapsers kit - so if you create time lapses often, pick a good set of time lapse filters.

Let’s have a look at the different types of lens filters and their features so that you can make an informed choice:

  • UV Filters
  • Polarizing Filters
  • ND Filters
  • Natural Night Filters

UV Filters - Lens Protector

UV Filters - with filter and without filter comparision

These filters protect the glass and coating of your lens when shooting in broad daylight.

However, UV radiation induces lens flare and counter contrast and sharpness, which may mar your time lapse shots.

You need to pick a lens filter with more robust UV filtration for increased protection.

In addition, these filters can protect the lens in extreme weather conditions such as high altitudes or snowy shoot locations. 

  • Benefits of UV filter
  • Protect the glass and coating of your lens
  • Protect the lens in extreme weather conditions

A common misconception about lens filters is that the thicker the lens, the better the protection it would provide - but that’s a myth! You should always look for thin lens filters - they work the best.

Let’s run you through some types of lens filters for professional shooting: 

Polarizing Filters

Polarizing Filters - with filter and without filter comparision

Polarizing filters offer increased contrast and saturation, adding more contrast to the sky in your time lapse frame.

The increased saturation helps separate the subject from the sky and also helps remove reflections during daytime shoots.

In addition, polarizing filters do not reduce light from entering the lens, as compared to their neutral density (ND) counterparts.

Thanks to this, the video appears more bright, vivid and colorful.

  • Benefits of Polarizing Filter
  • Remove reflections
  • Increase contrast and saturation

ND Filters

ATLI ND8 Filters - with filter and without filter comparision

ND filters reduce the light entering the lens while ensuring accurate color replication. With this feature, you can comfortably shoot moving objects in slow motion.

During time lapse shoots, you can’t extend your shutter speed; because you do, everything will be blurred out. But ND filters allow you to fix overexposure, which gives you the flexibility to use larger apertures even on bright sunny days.

ND filters come with a bunch of numbers on them, and to pick the right ND filter, you need to be aware of what these numbers indicate.

So here are some basics you need to know about ND filters:

  • ND filters are created in stops, and one ending in photography is either halving or doubling the amount of light entering the lens.
  • For every stop of an ND filter, you split the amount of light entering the camera.
  • Typically, ND filters are available in three types - you have the ND8 (3 stops), ND 64 (6 stops) and ND1000 (10 stops). Of these, the ND8 strength is the most versatile. 

If you’re capturing time lapses with an ATLI EON camera, you have nothing to worry about, as the camera is equipped with an ND8 filter.

You can use the lens filter for a variety of subjects - right from streams and rivers to waterfalls and woods! All you have to do is multiply the shutter speed by 8 for the best results. Here’s a quick formula you can remember:

Shutter speed with filter = number of the ND filter * original shutter speed

So if your original exposure values are ISO 300, f/8 and 1/800, the values will change once the ND filter comes into the picture. The new applicable values will be ISO 300, f/8 and 1/100. 

  • Benefits of ND filter
  • Fix overexposure
  • Accurate color replication
  • Perfect for shooting moving objects in slow motion

Natural Night Filters

ATLI Natural Night Filters - with filter and without filter comparision

If you love shooting time lapses at night, you must have the natural night filter in your kit.

These filters help reduce the appearance of light pollution in the video, so you won’t have to worry about artificial light sources running your shoot.

The natural light filters provide higher contrast and low reflectance of light, making them well-suited for shooting in low-light conditions.

If you’re already using the ATLI EON camera, you can pair it with the EON 49mm Natural Night filter for best results. 

  • Natural night filter effect:
  • Reduce reflections
  • Increase contrast and saturation
  • Reduce the appearance of light pollution

What filter would be best for you?

The type of subject and the shooting conditions are key factors you need to consider when investing in lens filters. You also need to take note of the creative elements you intend to add in the time lapse shoot and pick lens filters accordingly.

And yes, the most important aspect - is to ensure the diameter of the filter is the same as that of your camera lens.

Investing in simple, cost-effective accessories can revolutionize not just your workflow but the quality of the resultant time lapses too.

So if you’ve been considering adding lens filters to your kit for a while now, it’s time to look for the perfect ones - we’re sure you’ll have a fantastic experience shooting with these unique lens filters!