Black and white photography is a useful technique that helps convey various effects, whether you wish to make an urban landscape image feel classy and appear timeless, or focus on the finer details of a natural environment. Like, say, you want to emphasize a line of trees protruding into the skyline or highlighting technical marvel like steel girders of a bridge.
When a photographer makes the decision to take black and white photographs, there’s more to it than merely altering the image in Photoshop. For the best results, you’ll want to use a filter. No, filters aren’t just for color photography. This is because filters can do anything from enhancing your B&W photographs to even modifying the texture and contrast — at times to fantastical proportions that make your imagery feel otherwordly.
So, what filters are best for black and white photography? Let’s explore our favorites below.
Black and White Photography Neutral Density (ND) Filters
You might be thinking, “What’s the purpose of ND filters for black and white photography?” Normally, ND filters are used to manage the light from your lens, like on a sunny afternoon when shooting black and white landscape photography. In moments where the sun is high overhead and overexposing your image, you can slap an ND filter on to mitigate the amount of light that hits the lens and control it by stops.
NDs normally work by simply screwing them on your lens for better color accuracy. But when it comes to black and white photography, NDs let you lengthen shutter speeds for longer periods of time. However, if you want to avoid any form of vignetting then you’ll need to make sure to use trusted filters and lenses.
A reliable ND filter for black and white photography comes in the form of our QuartzLine with its 16 layers of anti-scratch coating that is capable of filtering light up to 15 stops. All our QuartzLine filters are available in 3 thread sizes: 67mm, 77mm, and 82mm. Plus, when you do choose to capture color photography, you’ll experience zero color shift.
Below are the Neutral Density filter types provided by QuartzLine.
Polarizing Filters for B&W Photography
Whether you’re taking natural or urban environment photos and anticipate plenty of reflections, a polarizing filter is ideal. For example, a lake beneath a mountain range and open sky or skyscrapers full of windows both suffer from the same reflective challenges. Fortunately, you’ll enjoy the same benefits of a polarizing filter for black and white photography as you would taking photos in color.
A polarizing filter also allows you to reduce polarization from the sun and removes glare. By darkening the skyline and bodies of water, a polarizing filter also improves the texture of clouds and currents as well as adding dimension and crispness. A key takeaway of a polarizing filter is how it produces a greater dynamic range. That way, your final image will look much closer to how the scene appeared when you originally captured it.
The QuartzLine Circular Polarizer (CP) Filters are a solid choice for B&W landscape photography. It’s perfect for blue skies, ice, and water alike. What sets QuartzLine CP filters apart from others is how they are comprised of a fused quartz glass element that resolves up to 400-megapixel sensors. Plus, you won’t need to worry about color shift with its perfect color neutrality feature.
ND and Polarizer Filters All-In-One
Rather than cramming filters where you need to expose for additional layers, there’s a solution with the QuartzLine Neutral Density + Polarizer Filters. ND/PL filters bring you the best of both worlds by merging 16 ND coating layers on a polarized glass element.
This is much more convenient while in the field as you won’t need to worry about juggling multiple filters to mitigate glares, reflections, and too much light entering your lens. You may find this to be your workhorse filter during the day when dealing with both lots of sunlight and reflections.
QuartzLine Neutral Density + Polarizer filters are available in 4 filter types.
Ultra Violet (UV) filters work especially well for black and white film photography to create a sharper image and reduce hazing from sunlight. Without color, there’s even more emphasis on details for B&W photography.
However, one of the main functions of a UV Filter is for weatherproofing and protecting your lens against the elements. So, if you’re taking photos in a desert environment, a UV filter will keep dust and sand from scratching your expensive lenses.
QuartzLine UV Filters securely seal your lens from the elements, meaning that your optical coating will be protected from dust, extreme heat, and rain. But not only that, the QuartzLine UV filter keeps your lens from fogging which is incredibly helpful when dealing with extreme humidity. The UV filter also incorporates QuartzLine’s notable 16 coating layers that are designed to both be anti-oil and hydrophobic.
Best Filters for Black and White Photography
To know what filters are best for black and white photography, it depends on what kind of photos you’re taking.
ND filters are the best way to manage the light hitting your lens. Polarizer filters remove glare and reflections which is particularly useful when snapping photos through glass or on lakes. To manage haze and protect your expensive lens, you’ll also require a solid UV filter. And when used correctly, you’ll notice an enormous boost to the quality of your black and white photography.
When capturing black and white photography, remember, you drive the eye to focus on details that may otherwise be obscured by colors or draws you into a perspective you wouldn’t normally see. And with the right filters, you can enhance your B&W photography performance with deeper shadows and finer details.