Best Light Pollution Filter For Astrophotography [Buyers Guide]

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If you live in a light-polluted area but still want to observe and take near-perfect images of the night sky, then a light pollution filter can make all the difference. 

But what are the best pollution filters that are currently available on the market? Here they are:

Best Light Pollution Filter For Astrophotography

For 1.25″ Eyepieces 

Editors Choice
Optolong 1.25" L-Enhance Dual Narrowband Light Pollution Filter (H-Alpha and H-Beta/O-III)
Baader Planetarium UV-IR Cut Filter - 1.25"
Astromania 1.25" O-III Filter - Produces Near-Photographic Views of The Veil, Ring, Dumbbell and Orion Nebula, Among Many Other Objects
Optolong L-Enhance Dual Narrowband Light Pollution Filter
Baader Planetarium UV IR-Cut Telescope Filter
Astromania O-III Filter
Editors Choice
Optolong 1.25" L-Enhance Dual Narrowband Light Pollution Filter (H-Alpha and H-Beta/O-III)
Optolong L-Enhance Dual Narrowband Light Pollution Filter
Baader Planetarium UV-IR Cut Filter - 1.25"
Baader Planetarium UV IR-Cut Telescope Filter
Astromania 1.25" O-III Filter - Produces Near-Photographic Views of The Veil, Ring, Dumbbell and Orion Nebula, Among Many Other Objects
Astromania O-III Filter

For 2″ Eyepieces 

Editors Choice
Optolong 2" L-Enhance Dual Narrowband Light Pollution Filter (H-Alpha and H-Beta/O-III)
Baader Planetarium UV IR-Cut Telescope Filter - 2"
Astromania 2" O-III Filter - Produces Near-Photographic Views of The Veil, Ring, Dumbbell and Orion Nebula, Among Many Other Objects
Optolong L-Enhance Dual Narrowband Light Pollution Filter
Baader Planetarium UV IR-Cut Telescope Filter
Astromania O-III Filter
Editors Choice
Optolong 2" L-Enhance Dual Narrowband Light Pollution Filter (H-Alpha and H-Beta/O-III)
Optolong L-Enhance Dual Narrowband Light Pollution Filter
Baader Planetarium UV IR-Cut Telescope Filter - 2"
Baader Planetarium UV IR-Cut Telescope Filter
Astromania 2" O-III Filter - Produces Near-Photographic Views of The Veil, Ring, Dumbbell and Orion Nebula, Among Many Other Objects
Astromania O-III Filter

Light Pollution Filter Details

So here are the filters; please note: all filters are available in both 1.25″ (31.75mm) and 2″ (50.8mm).

The only difference is size, the same features still apply. You can access each size on Amazon via the table at the top of this buyer’s guide.

There are two types of filters to be aware of Bandpass and Narrowband.

They both help pass frequencies within a certain range (deep sky objects) and reject frequencies outside of that range (light pollution).

Whilst Bandpasses are the most common and are brilliant at excluding unwanted light, Narrowbands are typically considered a slightly more premium choice due to their higher performance and durability.

This is due to their structure, the narrower the filter the better, and their ability to transmit heat and ultraviolet rays.

In many ways, a Narrowband filter is not always necessary, but depending on your level of experience, the clarity you seek, and your budget then they are definitely an option.

Optolong L-Enhance Dual Narrowband Light Pollution Filter (Editors Choice)

Specifications

Filter Size: Available in 1.25″ and 2″

Filter Shape: Round 

Type of Filter: Narrowband

Visual and Photographic Use? Yes 

Single or Set? Single

Summary:

The Optolong light pollution filter is another well-constructed accessory.

It has been enhanced which basically means it dramatically reduces the contrast-sabotaging effects that light pollution has on your observations.

Whether it is artificial or natural sources of light, using this filter will ensure that the background sky becomes darker. This increases the visibility of all deep-sky objects.

This is a great choice if you are imaging under severely light-polluted areas due to its more rigorous light pollution suppression. 

The Optolong filter reduces Skyglow, (effects of oxygen in the atmosphere) alongside sodium and mercury vapor lamps.

The result is that you can still observe and capture images from areas of heavy light pollution.

The filter enables desirable wavelengths to pass through at a peak transmission of 95%, including emission lines at OIII, H-Beta, NII, H-Alpha, and SII.

This filter also has a substantial red passband, so objects like the Orion Nebula look amazing!

Finely constructed with Schott glass which has been multi-coated to prevent scratches and promote stability onto the central wavelength.

This is a lightweight yet sturdy filter, the outer composition consists of anodized metal which keeps the filter thin without reducing aperture.

The Optolong filter is suitable for all color CCD cameras and unmodified DSLRs making it a great option for Astrophotography.

Pros
  • Constructed with quality materials; Schott B260 substrate material from Germany.
  • CNC machined and black anodized aero-metal filter cell that is ultra-thin to provide largest clear aperture; Laser-engraved to prevent fading
  • Multiple layers of anti-reflection non-cementing coatings applied via electron-beam gun evaporation with Ion-assisted deposition

Baader Planetarium UV IR-Cut Telescope Filter

Specifications

Filter Thickness: 2mm

Filter Size: Available in 1.25″ and 2″

Filter Shape: Round 

Type of Filter: Bandpass

Visual and Photographic Use? Yes 

Single or Set? Single

Summary:

Next up is the Baader Planetarium UV IR-Cut Telescope Filter; great in terms of performance and structure. 

The Baader filter provides high-contrast and seamless views of the emission nebula, planetary nebulae, and supernova remnants but it does so without too much dimming which can result in the loss of background stars.

It works so well in even the most light-polluted skies, but it also works very well to boost the contrast of nebula even if used in darker skies.

Baader is a premium manufacturer and utilizes advanced technology coatings for the best optical quality. As such, you can expect the filter to obtain a transmission higher than 97% across the entire passband, along with complete blockage of very light polluted lines.

What this essentially means for you is that you get to experience maximum image brightness and contrast; giving you clear views and photos of deep-sky objects.

The major benefit is the usage of this filter on different telescopes, from 4″-10″ and beyond. Whilst it works best on telescopes of 6″ or more Aperture (darkens the entire field of view) it’s great on smaller Aperture telescopes. 

Pros
  • High-contrast and natural views of emission nebula without excessive dimming and loss of background star fields.
  • Planeoptically polished for the highest image quality.
  • Produces a much brighter image with superb contrast than a conventional Nebula filter.
  • High Quality tested to comply with MIL-specifications.
  • All Baader filters have individual coating sealed edges, impermeable against aging because the penetration of moisture is impossible.
  • Completely scratch-resistant and can be cleaned as often as required.
  • Can use for both visual and photography.

Astromania O-III Filter

Specifications

Filter Size: Available in 1.25″ and 2″

Filter Shape: Round 

Type of Filter: Bandpass

Visual and Photographic Use? Yes 

Single or Set? Single

Summary:

The Astromania O-III Filter enables you to capture amazing deep-sky images even in the heaviest light-polluted skies with your CCD or DSLR camera- all you need to do is thread the aluminum cell into the nosepiece.

It also fits seamlessly into 1.25″ and 2″ accessories. 

Using custom-designed technology, the filter can selectively block out unnecessary and offending wavelengths of light that typically come from your local environment – ensuring the light emitted from deep-sky objects comes into focus.

You’ll also benefit from longer exposure times without any background saturation.

Plus, as the white light spectrum will stay mostly intact, the color balance of your images will not be affected, resulting in no need to undertake corrective processing later.

By improving contrast with this filter, you can take long-exposure photographs of faint galaxies, nebulas, and star clusters regardless of the light and brightness surrounding you – at a significantly higher quality.

This filter should definitely be considered.

Pros
  • Enhances contrast of all types of deep-sky objects: galaxies, nebulas, and star clusters
  • Does not reduce/change the color of Stars
  • Increase of Exposure Times by around 5x
  • Neutral color balance preserved; no need to correct color processing at a later time

Why Invest In A Light Pollution Filter For Astrophotography

Known as the “abomination to Skygazers” light is something that you really do want to limit if you are hoping to see the finest objects in space.

This is particularly true if you are getting into Astrophotography, whereby better pictures are the result of optimizing the finer details.

Whether you live in a highly light-polluted area (like a city) or even one that appears to be darker (town/ neighborhood), you will be sure to benefit from a light pollution filter when taking pictures of the sky.

The truth is that due to modern-day environments, street lighting, signs, buildings, housing, and other illuminations simply envelope a preventative dome of light pollution above us.

The result is that the entire constellation is concealed from view, and the ability to observe the Milky Way becomes impossible.

Thankfully, due to technological advancements, light pollution filters can reduce and eradicate local light pollution and give you back the ability to observe some of the most interesting deep-sky objects, like Nebulae.

It is these filters that enable us to pick up certain wavelengths of light unique to objects of the sky and therefore give us clear views despite unfavorable conditions here on Earth.

Remember the ability for us to observe objects in the sky entirely depend on how much light we can pick up through our apparatus (Telescope, Binoculars, etc).

Light Pollution Filters, therefore, swing the balance back into the favor of those objects in the sky.

What Are Light Pollution Filters (What Do They Do?)

Light pollution filters are glass optical filters that have been designed with dozens of layers of closely integrated coatings.

They reduce the effects of certain wavelengths of lighting (like those produced in our environment) to reveal deep-sky objects that can be hidden due to high light pollution.

They will not be able to completely block out light pollution, and they will never be better than when you observe with completely dark skies, but when you choose the right filters for your own interests and telescope, they will prove to be an unbelievable aid when taking photos of great detail on celestial objects.

Light pollution filters generally are created in the following sizes: 1.25″ or 2″. They are easy to attach to telescopes, usually, they just screw in.

There are various places where you can screw a filter in: onto your camera adapter, telescope eyepiece, or onto a diagonal.

Then, there are some that clip directly inside DSLRs but these tend to be immensely specialized and probably beyond the scope of this article.

When looking for a light-pollution filter it is important not to be confused with contrast boosting filters or those that only block out a limited range of light (or an entire range for that matter).

The best and most recommended way to identify a cheap filter is to look for, or look at, the charts that come with it and that are cited.

This will provide you with the wavelengths of light that the filter was designed to block (and also which ones that it cannot block). 

So, it is important to always use respected manufacturers that provide such material. If they do or cannot – it’s usually a red flag!

Another thing to avoid on these charts is any entire blocks that are completely eliminated through the filter.

Finally, be cognizant of manufacturers and the images they provide for proof of the filter in use.

Some may fake the before and after pictures whilst others may use the filter to take terrestrial (on the Earth) pictures.

Consider that you want to use the filter to observe Planets, Nebulae, and Galaxies – not cities! The cheaper filters are normally sourced from China and are of inferior quality.

Nonetheless – with these considerations in mind, the right light filter can be transformative, especially to those of you who have not used them before.

Final Words

I hope you enjoyed this article on the best light pollution filters, and I hope you found it helpful and informative!

Ultimately, each and every filter on this list has been reviewed, compared, and thoroughly researched to ensure that you can get a filter that provides you with only the best views and photos.

All filters are available in both 1.25″ and 2″ sizes.

When it comes to buying a light polluting filter, there are a few things to be aware of to ensure it works as expected. 

If by now you are yet to make a decision, here are the last couple of the things that can help you make your choice.

With light pollution filters, typically the more expensive the better.

This is because they tend to be better-constructed, are better coated, have better optics, and will last a lot longer.

To conclude, it’s always best to stick with the well-respected astronomy equipment manufacturers like Orion and Bazaar.

Not only do they have a wealth of positive reviews, but they undertake rigorous quality testing and can provide documentation regarding their high standards.