Lens Filter Effects that Can Be Simulated Digitally
In the days before digital photography and computers, most photography effects had to be achieved in camera using lens filters. Digital photography has greatly changed the game making some lens filters obsolete. It makes sense to simulate the effect digitally as opposed to using a filter because it cuts costs by not having to buy or rent equipment and, if the effect is being applied in photo editing software, you can always change your mind and erase the effect if you don't like it.
What Lens Filter Effects Can Be Simulated Digitally?
So what lens filter effects can be simulated digitally? Let's start with what you can do in your camera. When people shot on film and wanted to warm (add orange) or cool(add blue) the overall color scheme of their image, they used color conversion filters. You don't need them anymore, thanks to the white balance features on your camera. You can white balance to achieve true white or alter your settings to make the picture a little warm or a little cool. Alternatively, you can also adjust color balances in editing software too.
Sepia filters were once popular for creating photos with an old feel to them. Now you can either have your camera simulate the effect or you can add it in editing. The same thing goes for vignettes (black) and mattes (white), which create dramatic circular borders around your image. Some cameras allow you do add the effect in camera, and if not, you can easily apply it in editing software and maintain control over it's size, borders and fall out. This is great because you can always make changes, whereas with the filter, you're stuck with whatever you shot.
Special effect filters like fog, pop and softening can all be done in your software. Dual image filters are now a thing of the past. It was a filter that covered half of your lens so you should shot an image, flip the filter, and shoot another image on the same piece of film. Using double exposure, it created a split screen effect. You can now quickly do this in Photoshop.
Lens Filter that Can't Be Stimulated Digitally
There are some lens filters that can't be simulated digitally because they are vitally important to controlling shutter speeds, exposures and filtering out unwanted light. Neutral Denisity, UV and Polarizer filters will always be needed because they enhance the quality image that is shot. Neutral Density controls light without needing to adjust exposure. UV and Polarizers filter out unwanted light that causes images to be washed out. Polarizers also remove unwanted reflections in glass and water that you can't erase in editing without a lot of labor.
With so many lens filter effects being able to be simulated digitally, you want to take advantage of them for a lot of reasons. They will save you money and time but more important, they offer you more control over your images. Try to shoot the best looking image possible and add the effects in later because you can always change your mind.