Key Filtration Terms (Camera Lesson 15)

Summary: Ryan covers the filtration terms you need to know.

Length: 2:54 minutes

Video Lesson

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Camera filtration can be a powerful tool that you can use to influence the perception and emotions of your audience. In this video we are going to begin by taking a look at the types of filters, where you can mount them, and the key terms you need to know.


Filters alter the properties of light as it enters you camera. It’s important for two reasons. It helps you control your exposure.
No Filter Example - Camera Lesson 15
Filtration Example: ND Filter - Camera Lesson 15
And secondly it helps you create looks that can become an integral part of your production. You’ll come across two types or classifications of filters: those made for photography and those made for cinematography. Photography filters are circular and are mounted to your lenses using threads, and they come in wide range of sizes to match the wide range of lenses.
Adding Filtration: No Matte Box - Camera Lesson 15
Filters made for cinematography on the other hand are mostly square in shape, and they require a matte box to be mounted to the camera. They come in 4 popular sizes to fit different sizes lenses and matte boxes, and they are measured in inches. There are 4×4 filters, Panavision, which is 4 by 5.65, 6 by 6, and 138mm round.
Adding Filtration: Matte Box - Camera Lesson 15
Common Filter Sizes - Camera Lesson 15


There are two key filter terms that you need to know:…

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3 replies
  1. Rich49er
    Rich49er says:

    Are cine filters and photography filters different from in each other besides the shape? For example, Do they filter the light in different ways?

    • Ryan E. Walters
      Ryan E. Walters says:

      If they are made by the same company, they are the same thing just in different shapes. (For example, Schneider makes photography & video / cine.) If they are made by different companies, they will be similar in what they do, but can have different outcomes / effects. Photography filters do not have to be as exact as video filters- especially when it comes to ND, as photos are not seen in succession (Shot to shot) like and edit is in video. So they do not have to be as exacting in quality and consistency.

      So the answer is it really depends- but on the whole, and in general, there shape is the biggest difference.

    • Tim
      Tim says:

      The goal of cine filters and photography filters is different just as the goals and styles of video and photography is different. So the variety of filters for these two media is different too. That being said, when you compare a video and a photography filter that are doing the same job — such as a neutral density (ND) filter — they will probably filter the light in the same way. Companies like Tiffen and Schneider make filters for both video and photography, and so will use the same methods and technology for both. In fact, some photographers use rectangular filters (4″x4″, 4″x5.65″, 5″x5″, 5.65″x5.65″) such as with wide angle and ultra-wide angle lenses; and some videographers use round filters. So unless the filter is specific for video or photography, the differences in how they filter light will probably be so nuanced to not make a difference.

      Another thing to keep in mind is that the shape of the filter affects the physics of the light going through it. Rectangular filters all are 4mm thick, while round filters are often much thinner. This added thickness can affect the light, such as distorting it or adding ghosts and reflections.


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