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Thread started 23 Mar 2014 (Sunday) 15:36
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To UV filter or not to UV filter?

 
Alwayslearning
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Mar 23, 2014 15:36 |  #1

Looking at another thread which someone had started asking for feedback and advice on their pictures, the question about the UV filter came up.
Now since having a DSLR ( 350D of 8 years standing ) I have always had a UV filter on all of my lenses - think at the time of purchasing it was suggested to me by a friend.
Doing some online searching and research ( not always wise I know :) ) I am finding a lot more mixed advice out there.
So I was wondering what other users on POTN thought, firstly is it essential to have a UV filter fitted as standard - more for the lens protection aspect. If you think it is essential then do you think it does impact on the image quality, especially regarding sharpness.
My other reason for asking is that I do find that some images I have taken are not as sharp as I would expect ( not all the time but more than expected ). I do have a filter fitted but I was wondering if it is the fact that I have a UV filter in place or is it that I have a cheaper filter that is the problem.
Up til now I've been lucky and never dropped my camera but sods law is that if I take the filter off I will then do that :lol: However I'm willing to upgrade the filter to something better if the consensus is that it is a real necessity


Peter
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SqueekyBoy
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Mar 23, 2014 16:01 |  #2
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You'll never get a consensus on this issue. Do what makes you happy. I'd give you my opinion, but it is totally irrelevant.




  
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blanex1
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Mar 23, 2014 16:25 |  #3

i for one use uv filters on all my lenses mostly because of the protection they offer,i feel they can't heart with image quality although some hear will disagree with this! and i would stick with the higher end brands like B+W and there mrc -coatings as to offer the best quality of your photos,cheaper filters can degrade.


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SkipD
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Mar 23, 2014 16:32 |  #4

Peter - try a few test photos with and without the filter(s) installed.

Try shooting backlit subjects, particularly where a bright light or the sun can impinge on the front element of the lens. You'll want to look for flare with the filter that is either less intense or gone without the filter.

Look carefully at otherwise identical images but with and without a filter and consider any distortion (due to a less-than-perfectly-flat filter) or possible reduction of sharpness on images where a filter was used.

In 45+ years of using my cameras, I have never used filters for "protection" and I've shot in numerous places where stuff is flying around such as trackside shooting off-road auto races and motorcycle motocross races. I do always use OEM rigid lens hoods. All of my lenses that I bought in the mid 1960s and have used very heavily over the years have nearly pristine glass in them.


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MalVeauX
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Mar 23, 2014 16:34 |  #5

Heya,

UV filters are pointless for digital sensors.
They are often used strictly as protection for front elements.
They are hardly good protection. If shattered, it's the UV filter that will scratch your element.
If you want element protection, always use your lens hood.

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rdalrt
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Mar 23, 2014 16:49 |  #6

Hood always, filter never, except when I have a remote camera mounted someplace it may get blasted with dust/debris (ie. on the wall at a short track stock car race).

The other exception is a polarizing or neutral density filter for the situations that can make use of them.


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pwm2
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Mar 23, 2014 16:55 |  #7

Remember that five good filters is a much larger expense than having to replace the front element of a lens.

And in the end - not too many people do need to replace any front element.


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sandpiper
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Mar 23, 2014 17:11 as a reply to  @ rdalrt's post |  #8

I am a hoods always, filters only if needed for a purpose (i.e. a CPL or GND) guy.

Good filters shouldn't hurt your image quality except in some circumstances, such as shooting into the light where flare may occur, or on some lenses such as the 100-400L which does not seem to take filters well and softness is often the result.

So my reason for not using them is not because I am worried about them degrading the image, but simply the expense for something that gives negligible protection (when that is most peoples reason for buying them). In a drop situation, the filter will break because they break easily, this does not mean that it has "saved" the lens which remains unbroken. Lens glass is much thicker and much tougher and will survive most falls anyway. The broken filter may now scratch the lens element due to the broken shards however, I have seen this happen to other peoples gear.

For every lens element that may be saved in that rare circumstance that a filter will provide some slim impact protection, I am sure that more have been damaged, by broken filter shards, which would otherwise have been fine.

Filters can be useful if shooting in a sandstorm or around hazardous spray, but the rest of the time I feel safer with them OFF, and a good hood protecting the lens.

For me, I have been shooting for over 30 years, I have dropped many lenses and cameras yet (despite never fitting "protection" filters) my front elements have never been damaged, even though the filter threads are well dented on a couple of them.

In all that time, I have saved myself enough money by not buying such filters to buy at least one nice new L lens, which is far more useful to me than a bunch of filters. Should I ever damage a front element, they can be replaced for reasonable money, you don't need a new lens, just the front glass. That will cost way less than buying several filters that will likely never do anything for me and could actually damage a lens.

In the end, this is simply my personal opinion and others have a different view. You won't get any help from asking this question as both views have strong supporters and there is no right or wrong answer. Ultimately, you just need to decide for yourself whether you feel better with them on or off.




  
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Mar 23, 2014 17:17 as a reply to  @ sandpiper's post |  #9

A long (long, long) time ago, I handed my father my brand new Canon FT to take a photo of my girlfriend and myself. While fussing with the camera, he dropped it... onto the concrete sidewalk. Lens first at about a 30 degree angle. UV filter was shattered, some of its glass was in between the front element and filter. The filter ring was pretty bent up.

Took the camera to the local photo store. The owner and I fashioned a strap wrench to remove the mangled filter, and once off, inverted the camera and gently blew the powdered glass and fragments off the front of the lens. No harm to the lens or camera. I let him use the destroyed filter for a sign at the counter to encourage others to use filters for protection. I'll never go without one.


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outmywindow
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Mar 23, 2014 17:23 |  #10

I think that the general opinion seems to be that if you indeed decide to use a UV filter on any lens that one might own, its always a good idea to get a well manufactured UV filter rather than buying a cheap filter. Case in point, when I first got my 11-16mm I had a cheap 77mm filter on the lens and was wondering why my images were not as sharp as some of the images folks had posted in the Lens Sample Archive section of the forums. Turns out the filter was significantly degrading the image quality as well as adding unnecessary flare.

Though filters do still have an important place in anyone's camera bag in my opinion, and of course for some lenses the weather sealing is not complete until a filter is added to the front on the lens. Some environments and subjects are hostile and could pose risks to the integrity of a lens, and again filters can be that added bit of protection in those circumstances. But at the end of the day, you want to protect your investment whilst avoiding a significant degradation in image quality. That's pretty much the main reason why most individuals in photography will say that one should buy quality filters.


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1Tanker
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Mar 23, 2014 17:26 |  #11

ThreeHounds wrote in post #16780480 (external link)
A long (long, long) time ago, I handed my father my brand new Canon FT to take a photo of my girlfriend and myself. While fussing with the camera, he dropped it... onto the concrete sidewalk. Lens first at about a 30 degree angle. UV filter was shattered, some of its glass was in between the front element and filter. The filter ring was pretty bent up.

Took the camera to the local photo store. The owner and I fashioned a strap wrench to remove the mangled filter, and once off, inverted the camera and gently blew the powdered glass and fragments off the front of the lens. No harm to the lens or camera. I let him use the destroyed filter for a sign at the counter to encourage others to use filters for protection. I'll never go without one.

That proves nothing (other than the fact that the UV filter couldn't handle the fall). So, you're asserting that the front element would have suffered the same fate? :confused:


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SqueekyBoy
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Mar 23, 2014 17:28 |  #12
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Consensus? Coming right up.




  
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dpds68
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Mar 23, 2014 17:41 |  #13

Also ThreeHounds there have been Instances where the same thing happened and the broken filter Glass scratched the front Element .

OP Check this sticky .

https://photography-on-the.net/forum/showthre​ad.php?t=807555


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Mar 23, 2014 17:41 |  #14

Alwayslearning wrote in post #16780256 (external link)
Looking at another thread which someone had started asking for feedback and advice on their pictures, the question about the UV filter came up.
Now since having a DSLR ( 350D of 8 years standing ) I have always had a UV filter on all of my lenses - think at the time of purchasing it was suggested to me by a friend.
Doing some online searching and research ( not always wise I know :) ) I am finding a lot more mixed advice out there.
So I was wondering what other users on POTN thought, firstly is it essential to have a UV filter fitted as standard - more for the lens protection aspect. If you think it is essential then do you think it does impact on the image quality, especially regarding sharpness.
My other reason for asking is that I do find that some images I have taken are not as sharp as I would expect ( not all the time but more than expected ). I do have a filter fitted but I was wondering if it is the fact that I have a UV filter in place or is it that I have a cheaper filter that is the problem.
Up til now I've been lucky and never dropped my camera but sods law is that if I take the filter off I will then do that :lol: However I'm willing to upgrade the filter to something better if the consensus is that it is a real necessity

Much depends on the environment in which you take pictures.

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The event pictured above is a race in the Grand National Cross County series. Each autumn it's contested across trails thick with freshly fallen leaves and across recently harvested cornfields. In an era where insurance restrictions push photographers further back from the action each year, this event is unique in that it allows you to get as close to the action as your sense of personal safety allows. There are no fences or walls in the way.

Since the race is run across unprepared ground, the air is always filled with flying mud dirt and debris. Despite the personal risks a photographer must take, the action is so intense and the access so open that it's one of the most photogenic events in motorsports.

There are two useful real-world precautions to be taken: wear a heavy pair of boots to protect your feet in the fields, and put a UV filter on the lens to protect the equipment.

Now, of course, most photographers would never take the risks and accept the inconvenience of marching through the woods to photograph an event such as this. They'd rather stay with something more controllable and operate in an environment more pristine and avoid the risks of a GNCC event. They operate in comfortable worlds where there are no risks of randomly flying debris and where that debris has never struck a lens' front element. However, in a rare case such as those illustrated above, there could be an argument for using a protective lens filter.



  
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Mar 23, 2014 17:59 |  #15

ThreeHounds wrote in post #16780480 (external link)
A long (long, long) time ago, I handed my father my brand new Canon FT to take a photo of my girlfriend and myself. While fussing with the camera, he dropped it... onto the concrete sidewalk. Lens first at about a 30 degree angle. UV filter was shattered, some of its glass was in between the front element and filter. The filter ring was pretty bent up.

Took the camera to the local photo store. The owner and I fashioned a strap wrench to remove the mangled filter, and once off, inverted the camera and gently blew the powdered glass and fragments off the front of the lens. No harm to the lens or camera. I let him use the destroyed filter for a sign at the counter to encourage others to use filters for protection. I'll never go without one.

1Tanker wrote in post #16780509 (external link)
That proves nothing (other than the fact that the UV filter couldn't handle the fall). So, you're asserting that the front element would have suffered the same fate? :confused:

^ This. UV filters aren't nearly as tough as the elements in the lens. There was actually a video posted about a year ago of some guys smashing the front of a lens for fun. They took the bottom of one camera and swung it (pretty hard) into the front element of another lens mounted on another camera. With no UV filter the lens was fine. With the UV filter the filter shattered, loosing shards of broken glass that then scored up the front element of the lens. There's another video of guy taking a hammer to the front element of a nifty fifty, unable to break it. Then there is Kai at DigitalRevTV using the front element of a kit lens to drive a nail. Your UV filter isn't going to handle that.


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To UV filter or not to UV filter?
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