ND Filters and CPL Filters: Why, How, and When To Use Them

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Some photographers often don’t want to overcomplicate their setup further than necessary. However, for those wishing to excel in their expectations and forward their hobby into a real profession, CPL and ND filters can potentially turn otherwise standard photographs into something much more mesmerizing and dynamic. While both the CPL and ND filters perform different tasks and functions, each has the ability to give the photographer more control over what appears in your final product.

So, what are CPL and ND filters, and what do they do? These questions are valid concerns and pose an exciting take on elevating our photography level(s) from amateur to professional.

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1. What’s a CPL Filter?

A CPL filter – a circular polarizer/linear – is a glass attachment that can reduce the glare from reflected surfaces.

How does it help? Polarized light comes from light that has been reflected off of something. It can come from the light reflecting off an alpine lake, reflections from a coffee shop window, or even light reflecting off moisture and pollution in the atmosphere. Polarized light is made up of scattered rays and is something you don’t want in your shot. The CPL Phone Filter filters out this polarized light, leaving you with an awesome image you can’t replicate post-production. Your final image has bluer skies, greener trees, and super-sharp clarity.

Of course, I work for Moment and believe we make top-quality products. I’m constantly astounded by the perfectionistic tendencies our gear team commits to and the many hours of hard-earned beers it takes to get there. However, I’m a very non-technical photographer; I avoid unnecessary gadgets and gizmos, filters included. I sighed in disbelief when asked to create photographs with our new CPL. Nonetheless, I accepted the challenge and bribed my best friend, Eunice Beck, to gander around Arizona’s famous Canyon Lake for sunset. We packed our to-go coffees and tea, strapped our beloved cameras around our necks, and drove an hour East to a place where reflective surfaces and sunny skies were over the atmosphere.

Upon initial reaction, I didn’t quite understand the point of such a tool. I threaded the filter on my lens before looking at the LED screen and noticed crisp detail in the water and skies (DUH, Natalie, where you’re supposed to!), but I wasn’t taken aback. However, I immediately gasped once I removed the filter, kept the same camera settings, and saw the difference between having it on and not at all. The skies without the CPL were vastly overexposed, had little to no detail, I could barely make out the actual color of the sky, and the foreground’s shadows were muddier than desired. The AntiGlare CPL filter made it so that the image’s dynamic range was much crisper and clearer than what your eyes can see, almost like having an iPhone's classic, juicy dynamic range. See below for a side-by-side difference.

Features and Compatibility for Moment’s Antiglare CPL Filter:

  • Premium fused silica optical glass for supreme clarity
  • Advanced 16-layer optical coatings
  • Knurled grip texture for more control and easy removal from lenses
  • Stacks with fixed NDs, Moment Cinebloom, or UV Filters
  • Smooth rotation ring for precise polarization adjustment
  • Available for standard camera lens sizes 58mm - 82mm
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AntiGlare CPL Filters - 67mm


Our AntiGlare CPL Filters offer pro-grade polarization at a fair price. These filters help control reflections, boost colors, and mitigate shadows by filtering out unwanted glare. Using premium fused-...

Add for $85

With vs. Without CPL Filter

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Without CPL
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With CPL
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2. What’s an ND Filter?

I’m sure you’ve heard me tout the benefits of using an ND filter before in previous articles… like sunglasses for your camera, they give you ultimate control over the light hitting your sensor, and that means slower shutter speeds, giving you smooth motion in your clips and more color in those sunset shots.

How Does It Help? It lets less light in, so you can do longer exposure shots during the day. If you have taken a landscape shot before, you know that your sky is either too bright or your foreground too dark - because you’re choosing between sky and foreground on what will be properly exposed.

Moment’s phone filter system uses the same bayonet design as the M-series cases you love. Simply pop the 37mm Filter Mount onto your photo case, and you’re ready to shoot with any of our 37mm filters.

Features and Compatibility for Moment's ND Filter:

  • Featherlight (TM) Construction
  • 37mm
  • Cinema quality, shatterproof glass
  • The neutral color and incredibly sharp
  • Low 1.46 refractive index glass
  • Proprietary optical coatings
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Variable ND Filters - 67mm / 2-5


We’ve shot with a lot of Variable ND filters. They were either too expensive or the quality wasn’t there. None of them hit the sweet spot on affordability, functionality, and quality… so we made our o...

Add for $199
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3. When To Use CPL or ND Lens Filters

There are many scenarios when one might want to use a CPL or ND filter, as both excel in different areas of expertise. Let’s narrow down to a handful of opportunities you’ll most likely encounter daily.

👉 For a CPL filter:

Removing Glass Reflections:A common first mistake people might notice when starting out in photography is how difficult it can be to take a photo from inside a window or car door. A polarized filter reduces any unwanted streak of light or milky blurs that get in the way of your shot. It can also do the same for reflected light on water surfaces.

Make the Blues More Blue: Nothing ruins your landscape shots more than an overexposed sky. Foreboding a sense of tension and mood and darkening the sky using a CPL filter, you’ll notice just how much more of a dynamic range you’ll produce.

Remove the Haze: If you hope to make a specific color more vibrant in detail and hue, then a CPL filter is an excellent choice. See every detail of the leaves on a tree without the unwanted haze coming from the sun.

👉 For an ND Filter:

Long Exposures:Time to go manual mode! This is one of the more common ways to use an ND filter, as it commonly produces a hazy motion blur in the background of an action shot or milk the moving water in a waterfall scene. Stack additional ND filters for a more groundbreaking effect.

Action Shots: Reducing the amount of light entering the lens allows the photographer to select unique combinations of aperture, exposure time, and sensor sensitivity that would otherwise create an overexposed image. Action shots with an ND filter allow the subject to stay tack sharp without unwarranted streaks or flares.

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4. Combined CPL/ND Filters:

Some filters combine the functions of ND and CPL filters, providing light reduction and polarization benefits in a single filter. These hybrid filters offer a versatile solution for photographers who wish to avoid carrying and switching between multiple filters.

The combined filters adjust the polarization level alongside the amount of light reduction, offering a range of effects from minimal to significant light blockage and polarization. This versatility makes them particularly useful for dynamic lighting conditions and reflective surfaces.

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5. Practical Recommendations:

In conclusion, both ND and CPL filters are highly regarded in the photography community for their distinct and complementary capabilities. Whether used separately or in combination, these filters offer photographers enhanced control over their images, enabling creative effects and improved image quality that would be difficult to achieve through post-processing alone.

  • ND filters are recommended for photographers experimenting with motion blur and depth of field in bright conditions.
  • CPL filters are suggested for those aiming to improve color saturation, reduce reflections, and enhance skies and water surfaces in their photography.
  • For photographers who frequently encounter varying light conditions and reflective challenges, investing in a combined CPL/ND filter could offer the best of both worlds, simplifying their workflow while maximizing creative potential.

With / Without CPL Filters

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Without CPL Filter
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With CPL Filter

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