Whenever I head out on a shoot, I always pack certain “staples” like spare batteries, SD cards, and lens cloths. Those are the basics… the things every photographer packs… or should pack. In addition to those necessities, there is one more piece of kit that ALWAYS makes it in my back and that’s a Circular Polarizer (CPL). Of all the filters available, the CPL ranks at the top for me and they should be up on that scale for you, too. Whether you’re shooting landscapes, architecture, or an event, a good CPL can instantly up the final straight-out-of-camera (SOOC) results. Just take a look at the before/after of this photo I took at Yellowstone National Park.

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What do you see? Did you notice the total removal of reflections from the sun? What about the warm boost of the rock wall? And the boost of contrast in the sky? All of these improvements are due to the CPL. If you want even more reasons as to why the CPL should always be a part of your kit, watch this video that I recorded awhile back. It should leave no doubts as to whether you should always pack a CPL on every shoot you go on.

While there are a ton of filter manufacturers who make CPLs, I only use one type: The Firecrest Circular Polarizer by Formatt-Hitech. I’ve used this filter for the last 3-4 years and have always loved the results. If you already own screw-on filters, I recommend getting step-up rings for each of your lenses’ filter thread diameters that adapt to 77mm. For example, two of my lenses have a 67mm filter thread diameter, so I have a 67mm-to-77mm step up ring. This allows me to use one filter on all of my lenses, even if they have smaller filter thread diameters.

So that’s my most important filter. What about you? Is there a particular filter that you can’t live without? What about any other accessories? Leave ’em in the comments below!