Cokin Filter Guide: It’s a Different World Altogether
*Published May 2017 *Updated January 2019
Traditionally, camera lens filters have been screw-on type filters. The filters are screwed on the top of the lens, and it is ready to use, with the ability for adding more filters on top of the previous one.
While this is a convenient method because we use so many different lenses, we often require a completely new set of filters for different lenses, and it comes out cheaper in the long run.
To avoid this issue, the filter manufacturers are developing square filters, which can be added via adaptor and filter holders easily.
One of the popular systems is Cokin System which involves filter holder series and filters based on the widest focal length you intend to use. Therefore, the first step toward using the Cokin system is to identify the camera body or bodies you will be using, and the widest focal length you would be using.
Cokin System Series
After that, Cokin has four series. These can be deduced from the image below:
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Now the series has been decided; it is about the selection of the filter holder. It is based upon the maximum number of filters you wish to stack-up together, the versatility you require, and the filter size of your lenses.
Although there are adaptors and step-up rings to cover some of those factors up.
S Series / A Series:
- Filter sizes: 67 x 72mm(rectangle) and 67 x 67mm (square).
- Adaptor rings: 36mm-62mm filter size range.
- High-impact plastic.
- The holder can take up to 3 filters.
M Series / P Series:
- Filter sizes: 84 x 100mm(rectangle) and 84 x 84mm (square).
- Lightweight but fixed design.
- High-impact plastic.
- Holder holds up to three filters and 95mm circular polarizer (screw-on)
- Adaptor rings: 48mm-82mm filter size range.
L Series / Z-Pro Series:
- Filter sizes: 100 x 150mm(rectangle) and 100 x 100mm (square).
- Lightweight with a Modular design.
- Most versatile.
- The high-impact plastic that holds up to 3 filters and 105mm circular polarizer (screw-on).
- Adaptor rings: 52mm-96mm filter size range.
XL Series / X-Pro Series
- Filter sizes: 130 x 170mm(rectangle) and 130 x 130mm (square).
- Lightweight but fixed design.
- High-impact plastic.
- Holds up to 3 filters and 127mm circular polarizer (screw-on).
- Adaptor rings: 62mm-112mm filter size range.
Filter Adaptors and Step-up Rings
Considering you have an 82mm filter size and an L series holder, you will need an L series 82mm adaptor ring to put it over your lens.
If you have two lenses of different filter sizes, all you need are different size adaptors ring for them, while the filter holders can be the same. Adaptors are low cost, and the main cost is of filters.If you have two lenses of different filter sizes, all you need are different size adaptors for them Click To Tweet
Therefore it saves much of the cost following the Cokin system and other similar systems.
I suppose you have a filter size range with a minimum being 62mm, and you have a lens with 49mm filter size – what do you do? There are no adaptors but step-up rings.
These step-up rings first help in stepping up the filter sizes to the necessary value. After that, adaptors and filter holders can be automatically used.
The Types of Filters
Some of the most common types of applications of filters in common photography genres are:
Landscape photography is one genre of photography that is exceptionally blessed to have the availability of filters.
Many filters affect landscape photography in varying degrees, often coming up with results vastly different and better as compared to ones that would have been without these filters.
CPL or Circular Polarizer filter is perhaps the most critical filters a landscape photographer carries. This helps the landscapes by
- Making the blues of the skies darker and thus having the white puffy clouds stand out
- Taking the reflections off the water a bit and giving it a more serene look.
ND of Neutral Density filters cut stops of light. This is useful while taking pictures during sunlight and you want to use the slow shutter.
A slow shutter helps capture movements of the clouds and water by giving them a motion blur. Same is the case in case of waterfalls and rivers.
Landscape photographers love the beautiful moving skies and water, and the motion blur and an ND filter are a go-to. ND filter is of two types
- Constant – which stops consistent stops of light.
- Variable – in which you can vary the stops of light to cut out.
A constant ND of 2 stops will require you to slow down the shutter two stops while keeping the aperture and ISO same.
c. Graduated ND
Graduated Neutral Density filters cut the stops of light in one half of the frame. This helps in getting the exposure of sky and land correct in the same frame in case the skies are overexposed.
The filters of Graduated ND are generally rectangular, thus allowing you extra space to control where the gradation of transparent and translucent part occurs. Translucent part stops light while transparent allows all the light to pass through.
2. Portrait & Studio Photography
ND filters are an amazing addition to a studio photographer’s arsenal. While it is commonly considered that ND filters can be used only outdoors, sometimes in the studio, especially in larger studios, the light can be too much.
To get shallow depth of field in such scenarios, ND filter is of immense value as it helps in cutting down stops of light, and thus allowing a wide open aperture to be used instead of a stopped down the aperture to cut out excess light.Cokin Filter Systems are a beautiful addition to the filter management. Click To Tweet
Cokin Filter Systems are a beautiful addition to the filter management because you have to buy the main glass only once, as also the filter holder.
The step-up rings and adaptors are all you will be spending on, and those aren’t really as costly and valuable as the glass – the main part of any filter.
How to Use Cokin Filters
Below you have an image showing you in what order to assemble the Cokin System:
- Attach the Adapter Ring to your lens
- Slide the Series Filter Holder
- Slide the Cokin Filter
It is that simple.
How Do Filters work?
If you’ve ever looked at a professional’s photographs and wondered why they looked so much more realistic, intriguing, or dramatic than your own?
The answer: Filters
Because the human eye and cameras do not respond the same way to all colours, filters are most often used to adjust the colour of light from the scene, so that the shades reproduced on camera correspond to those we see with our eyes.
A colour filter permits light of its colour to pass through and, to varying degrees, absorbs or blocks the light of other colour.
Nearly all filters, because they reduce the light entering the camera, require a larger aperture or a slower shutter speed than you would use without a filter.
The change, although now frequently given in f-stops, is traditionally specified as a filter factor – a number that indicates how much you must multiply your exposure.
A filter factor of 2, for example, tells you that you must double the amount of light-the equivalent of a one-stop change. A factor of 4 requires four times as much light-the same as a two-stop increase.
When you purchase a filter, be sure it is the same size as the diameter of your lens, adapter or holder.When you purchase a filter, be sure it is the same size as the diameter of your lens, adapter or holder. Click To Tweet
Cokin Filters Tips
- A Cokin Filter System allows you to put different filters on the lens of the camera.
- Different lenses use different ring sizes for their accessories.
- Buying a filter on every size for every lens you own can get expensive.
- This system works by having one holder that attached to many lenses with different ring sizes.
- You use the same holder, and you switch the ring to fit the lens you want to use.
- The system will allow you to have different effects on the image.
- Cokin filter system that can be used with film and digital cameras.
- With digital cameras, you can see the results right away so you can check as you go.
How to Choose your Filters
The Cokin Creative Filter System Explained
Skylight 1A and Skylight (230)
Adds warmth to pictures and reduce blue casts in backgrounds or dark areas, where the sky is reflected. It may be left permanently on the lens for protection.
The Skylight filter (230) suppresses only ultra-violet rays without affecting the colour of the shot. Unlike 1A which add a slightly pinkish cast. It can be used at all times to protect the surface of your lens from rain or scratches.
This protective filter absorbs ultra-violet rays without affecting colours. Good for black and white films.
Neutral Polarizer (160)
Suppress non-metallic reflections, improves contrast and reflection on the water.
Colour Polarizers (161, 162, 163)
A polarizing filter controls glare and unwanted reflections. These Colour Filters allow you to take polarized images with colour. They are used with the Cokin Neutral Polarizer filter.
When you use vari-colour filters (170, 171, 172, 173) you can produce truly bizarre effects. Different rotations of the filter will produce very different results.
Cokin Diffusers Filters
These filters (083, 084) have little effect on the sharpness of the picture. They diffuse highlights, reducing contrast, and can be used to soften a landscape and skin tones.
With this set of filters (082) you can create romantic pastel like effects
Super Speed Cokin Filter (217)
Super Speed filter speeds things up, make the image move, give life to inanimate objects. This filter is suitable with lenses up to 250mm.
These filters (040, 041, 042) have engraved prismatic grooves that, like a prism, diffract the light into its spectral colours, but without distorting the image.
A magic mirror (220) that allows you to photograph a scene as if it is reflected on a large lake. Mount the mirror as close you can to the lens.
Yellow Cokin Filter (001)
Absorbs ultra-violet and reduce blue and violet rays lighten foliage tones. Bring out clouds in a blue sky.
Orange (002) + (029, 030, 031)
002-Enhances the sharpness of yellow and red tones and absorbs blue, dramatic effects in landscape with nice sky and strong contrast with blue and yellow.
Orange Filters (029, 030, 031) use them when the light is badly positioned or want to warm a cold mood, accent a sunset, a portrait or a landscape.
Red Cokin Filter (003)
Absorbs ultra-violet, blue, green and yellow. Perfect for sky and night effects. Can be used to create a dramatic contrast.
Increases contrast in pictures by lightening green subjects. Reduce blue and red.
Used for outdoor portraits, adds natural tones by lightening skin.
ND Cokin Filter
Allow you to reduce the light if you wish to use larger apertures for a smaller depth of field.
Dreams Creative Cokin Filters
Cokin Dreams 091, 092, 093. They can be combined with others filters for creative effects.
Cokin Graduated Filters
Use the Graduated filters to reduce the excessive brightness, for instance, the difference in light between the foreground and the sky in a landscape.
The Cokin Graduated filter are 120-Grey, 121-Grey, 122-Blue, 123-Blue, 124-Tabacco, 125-Tabacco, 126-Mauve, 127-Mauve, 128-Pink, 129-Pink, 130-Emerald, 131-Emerald, 132-Yellow, 133-Yellow.
The dense area covers less than half of the filter but can be adjusted vertically.
Cokin Warm Tone
These Cokin filters (026, 027, 028) add warmth to light and a pleasant tan to your models. In general, they suppress blue casts on overcast days and on subjects lit by blue sky.
Creative Blue Filters
The Cokin Blue filters have 2 majors groups:
- Colour conversion 020, 021, 022.
- Colour compensating 023, 024, 025.
These filters can be used with lenses of any focal length and with virtually all other Cokin filters and special effects attachments. You can combine these filters with nearly all Cokin filters.
Sepia Cokin Filter
Recapture the Sepia tones that give old pictures that special charm. This filter will yield a pleasant effect when combined with a soft-focus attachment.
The pastel filters ( 086, 087) can be used to add delicate pastel hues to your subject. You can combine the pastels with orange filters.
Cokin Rainbows Filters
With these filters (195, 196) you can create a rainbow or two. You can use this filter in any weather. The Cokin Rainbows should not be used in combination with other heavily coloured filters.
With a Sunset filter (197, 198) you don’t need to wait until evening. you can simulate the colours of the setting Sun in the morning or anytime. These filters can be combined with all other filters.
Double Exposure (346)
Check whether your camera is designed to have multiple exposures. The camera must be firmly supported on a tripod or base.
Cokin Fog Filters
These filters (150, 151) are available in 2 different densities and have a misty graduated area: Fog or Mist effect. Can be combined with graduated and Sunset filters.
Stars Cokin Filters
Stars filters (055, 056, 057, 058) have the best results when your subjects are brilliant points of light against dark areas. Can be used with all other Cokin filters.
Cokin Center Spot Filters
The center spot filters (060 to 068 and 070 to 078) include 2 ranges of colour filters and 2 ranges of neutral filters that produce a coloured diffused area around a sharp centre.
These filters (397-pack of 10) allow you to concentrate on the subject itself and eliminate all unnecessary background detail. Use them for portraits, nudes, still life, landscapes.
Multi-Images (201, 202, 203, 204)
You can create more than just repeat images because the filter holder is fully adjustable. This gives you much more control.
Cokin Close-up Lenses
With these lenses (101, 102, 103) you can get yourself closer to the subject. Because of the limited depth of field, use the smallest lens stop.
When you place a Cokin Prism ( 219) in front of the lens, you can create astonishing effects. The prism allows you to bring out the blue, yellow, green and red colours. The crystal can be combined with colour or graduated filters.
Buying a filter on every size for every lens you own can get expensive. Click To Tweet
The Cokin Creative Filter System has three main components:
Series Filter Holder
The Cokin filter holder is mounted on the lens by use of an adaptor ring, the holder has 4 grooves. The nearest to the lens takes round filters which can rotate. The other 3 accept square filters.
There are four different sizes of filters available:
According to Cokin website, Series Name Change.
- Size S (previous A series) small size fitting diameters from 36 to 62) and Hasselblad
- Size M (previous P series) medium size fitting diameters from 48 to 82
- Size L (previous Z-Pro series) large size fitting diameters from 49 to 96
- Size XL (previous X-Pro series) XL size fitting diameters from 62 to 112
What are Cokin filters made from?
Cokin filters are manufactured from CR-39 polymer launched initially for the vision lens industry, CR-39 natural glass boasts several significant features: Extra lightweight. Highly resistant to shocks, meaning that photographers, videographers and camera operators can handle the filters in complete confidence and safety.
Excellent optical transmission and high compatibility to colouring.
See where to buy Cokin filters:
Cokin Creative Filter System
By – Worldview Productions, Jason Edwards checks out the Cokin Creative Filter System and tests the graduated grey filter on a cloudy day at Dove Lake in Tasmania.
Cokin Filter System – What is it?
By – Cameras Direct
Read more: How To Use Hoya Filters
**Updated January 2019
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