Interested in solar photography? Before you go out and start taking shots of the blazing sun, you should know that proper gear is absolutely necessary. The sun is extremely bright and constantly radiates harmful rays, such as ultraviolet and infrared, making certain precautions necessary.
Taking a direct photo of the sun without the correct filter can permanently damage not only your camera but also your eyes. The glass within the lens acts as a magnifying glass and multiplies the intensity of the sun as it hits the sensor of the camera or your retina. Other parts that can be damaged within your camera are the shutter curtains as well as the autofocus sensor.
Luckily for photographers, the selection of lens filters is vast, and among them, there are plenty of solar filters to consider. It is recommended that you stick to a designated solar filter instead of choosing a neutral density filter, though they may be marketed for solar photography.
A solar filter is designed to view the sun. It not only dims the intensity of the sun, it also protects both your eyes and your equipment from the damage. The average range of solar filters decreases light by 16 to 24 stops. You should never use a filter with less light-stopping power than this. In this post, we are going to focus on the best solar filters for cameras you can find today.
1. Thousand Oaks Optical 77mm Solar Filter (Overall Winner)
Thousand Oaks Optical has been manufacturing safe solar filters for more than 35 years. According to the official website of the company their filters were used by NASA aboard the space shuttle as well as other professional users. Their threaded black polymer solar filter fits cameras lenses with a 77mm diameter and is CE & ISO approved.
The black polymer is the most frequently used material for filtering. It allows users to observe sunspots and granulation through their cameras. The threaded black polymer solar filter by Thousand Oaks Optical has an optical density of five and it also effectively blocks IR light.
2. 4”x4” Solar Filter Sheet (Budget Winner)
If you are looking for an affordable solar filter for your camera, then this sheet can be a great choice. This sheet allows users to make their own solar filter and save a lot of money.
This filter sheet by Thousand Oaks Optical is ISO approved and easy to use. The sheet is easily attached to an inexpensive UV filter in order to make the design more durable and professional.
All that’s necessary is to cut the filter sheet into a small circle and place it into the glass filter. This requires unscrewing the threaded inner metal assembly that presses the glass against the outer diameter metal collar. Then, just place the sheet in and screw the assembly back together. While it may seem complicated at first glance, the whole process takes 15 minutes or less.
Just like the solar filter mentioned above, the SL58-T threaded solar lens filter was also made by Thousand Oaks Optical. These specialized SolarLite films have the optical quality of glass with advantages of impregnated polymer i.e., the black polymer. Sun will appear yellow in images captured with this filter. In addition to the filter itself, buyers also get a small, tubular plastic storage case.
To make sure the 58mm solar filter fits various camera models, Thousand Oaks Optical made sure it is mounted with universal camera threads. According to some users, due to the fact the SL58-T is dark, it won’t work with autofocus.
The 70mm lens filter from DailyStar Filters utilizes an ingenious spring-folded assembly design that holds it securely in place while you are capturing amazing shots of the sun or solar eclipse. It’s useful to mention that DailyStar Filters created this item to work on telescopes as well.
This universal lens filter is made of 12312-2 ISO-certified SOLARLITE film which blocks 100 percent of UV and IR radiation as well as 99.999 percent of intense light. That way, the filter reveals super granules and sunspots on the solar surface and allows you to capture stunning shots.
Bear in mind that the filter has a clear aperture of 70mm and vignetting may occur when it is used on lenses and optics that approach the maximum recommended diameter. Users report the universe solar lens filter works great, and it’s easy to remove without disturbing the camera.
Hoya’s Pro ND 77mm solar filter was specifically created to allow users to shoot solar eclipses, but also allow users to dive into the solar photography world. This solar filter has a 100,000x filter factor and 16.6 stop exposure reduction. Thanks to the 5.0 density, the Hoya solar filter creates a darkening of the image.
With this solar filter, you can easily take photos with a wide aperture and long exposure, but it also allows reduced shutter speed. Vapor-deposited optical glass was used for the manufacturing of this solar filter. As a result, the filter forms a consistent layer and enhances the quality of the photo you take.
Hoya’s Pro solar filter doesn’t add or alter colors; it provides an accurate, neutral color rendition without any noticeable color-cast to the images.
Seymour Solar is a well-known name in the solar photography equipment business. All their products meet the ISO 12312-2 requirements. This particular solar filter is specifically made to thread into a 67mm camera lens.
Seymour Solar used .002” thick Helios Solar Film to make the filtering materials in the aperture of the filter. It is important to mention that Helios Solar Film is strong, durable, and has a one-layer design with absorptive filtering material spread across the substrate.
Helios Solar Glass and Helios Solar Film block IR and UV rays which are harmful and also block out 99.999 percent of all light. The sun appears yellow-orange when shot with this filter. Durability and strength of Seymour Solar 67mm Helios Solar Film camera filter are ensured through the sturdy aluminum cell.
This second solar filter from Hoya provides exceptional quality photos at a reasonable price. The HMC NDX400 screw-in filter has coatings applied to both surfaces in order to suppress reflection and increase light transmission. The neutral density filter reduces the amount of visible light that enters the lens, thus allowing users to opt for wider apertures or slower shutter speeds, especially in bright conditions.
It’s worth mentioning that the Hoya 52mm HMC NDX400 screw-in filter decreases light values by nine stops to less than 1/500th of the original intensity for additional safety. Due to the fact the brand multicoated the filter, you can avoid common pitfalls such as ghosting.
Keep in mind that the objects shot through this filter have incredible details, so the filter doesn’t actually degrade the images at all. Besides the sun you can also take photos of nature and landscapes.
Choosing Solar Filters
The popularity of solar photography keeps growing, and if you want to try it out, then getting the best solar filters for your lenses is the first step you need to take. Solar filters allow you to protect the camera and its lens but also enable users to take high-quality photos of the sun without altering the color, clarity, and other common problems.
Most solar filters are threaded but easy to use, but solar filter sheets are also a viable and inexpensive option to consider. Just make sure you choose the right filter for your camera in order to get the most out of this experience.