Photography Tip: UV Filter vs No UV Filter and hands on comparison

10 years 3 weeks ago - 8 years 4 months ago #132105 by PhotographyTalk


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10 years 3 weeks ago - 10 years 3 weeks ago #132136 by Henry Peach
Even back in the film days many experienced photographers didn't use UV filters either. I stopped using them a decade before trying digital. There are some places in the world where the UV filter effects are more noticeable. On top of a mountain for instance. But where I do my photography I don't see an improvement using a UV filter with film or digital. If UV were an issue with digital sensors I would expect the manufacturers to include it in the internal filters that every digital camera has over the sensor.

Pressure on the front of the lens, such as bashing the front of the lens repeatedly on trees, is likely to screw up the internal focusing and zoom mechanisms in the lens whether it has a filter on it or not. Where the filter helps protect is small objects thrown directly at the front element, glancing blows to the front element (often because the camera is hanging around the neck and swings forward), or sometime dropping the lens. I find a lens hood protects even better than the filter from glancing blows and falls. The rubber or plastic absorbs a lot of the shock, and if it were to crack it's usually cheaper than a nice UV filter. Also they rarely get jammed on the end of a lens like a filter can.

When I worked at the camera store (back in the days of only film cameras) none of us used protective filters on our cameras, but the boss rode our asses making sure we told new camera buyers about how dangerous the world was for lenses. Competing with mail order and the new internet sales we almost made more profit selling accessories like filters than we did on the cameras and lenses themselves. I'm sure it's still the same.

The "which would you rather wreck? filter or lens?" argument sounds good at first, but I see it differently. Which would I rather have? 20 years of photos with reduced contrast and some flaring, or occasionally have to replace a lens? If you are using the tools they will eventually break. I would rather replace the occasional lens (haven't had to yet for damage a filter would have prevented) than deal with the potential problems of having a filter on the end of my lenses all the time. If I were shooting in a situation where rocks or something else was flying at the end of my lens I'd put one on in a second. I just don't encounter that sort of situation.

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