UV filters

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous Equipment' started by osprey48, Jun 11, 2013.

  1. osprey48

    osprey48 Member

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    Does anyone use UV filters on their lenses? I've always used one mainly to protect my lens, but it seems a bit pointless putting a clear glass filter over an expensive lens. Isn't it just an extra layer of glass for the light to travel through, or doesn't it make any difference? I'd be interested to hear your opinions.
    Also, I suspect that those cheap £5 - £10 UV filters from ebay may only be plain clear glass. Or am I wrong?
     
  2. Jim Noel

    Jim Noel Member

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    Why put a $5-10 piece of glass in front of a $1000 lens? If you want to "protect the front element", use a metal lens hood.
     
  3. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    I understand why people use these to protect the lens, but as an integrity nutcase I don't like the idea of this extra bit of glass and so don't use one.
     
  4. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    I put them on every lens for protection. I remove them when I want to use another filter or I want to take a photograph without it. It is cheap insurance that does not degrade the quality of the photograph in any meaningful or measurable way.
     
  5. Truzi

    Truzi Subscriber

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    I use one occasionally/sporadically. If I'm changing lenses often (because I did drop one on concrete once), or climbing in a hilly wooded area where I may slip and hit the camera on something, I usually put one on.
     
  6. BainDarret

    BainDarret Subscriber

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  7. Two23

    Two23 Member

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    I used to use them, until a UV filter shattered and then caused about $200 damage to a very expensive Nikon lens. There are a lot of problems with thinking a filter is really going to protect anything. First, it is flimsy glass. When it breaks, it's going to scratch up your lens WORSE than it would have been. Few things are as good at scratching glass as another piece of jagged glass. This has happened to one of my friends as well. Second, using a flimsy piece of glass generally seems to make people a bit more careless. REAL protection comes from using the very tough plastic lens cap. It's not going to break, and even if it did it's not going to scratch your lens up. I also always use a lens HOOD. These protect my lenses in several ways. First, it deflects a lot of crud from ever getting near my front element. Second if I accidentally drop the lens it keeps the front element away from the ground. The plastic flexes a bit and takes some of the shock. I like to photo trains, and I often have a lot of trouble with flare from even the very best multicoated filters. I've had a lot of great shots ruined by flare caused by using filters*. Finally, I've figured out that for me to place QUALITY filters on each of my best lenses, it would cost me MORE than a repair! What's the sense of that? I've been shooting outdoors pretty much daily, in the worst conditions the Dakotas can come up with. I've used my lenses in wild places such as Iceland, Baffin Island, Hawaii, Artic Canada, and shooting from a sea kayak in Florida. I've been doing this for 20+ years now. The ONLY time I've damaged a lens was when a stupid filter broke and scratched up an expensive lens. I see filters as more RISK than they are "protection." No thanks--I use the lens caps.


    Kent in SD

    * yes dessertrat, filters have very
    DEFINITELY caused me problems.
     
  8. jstout

    jstout Subscriber

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    Thanks very much for that link to the lensrentals.com article. That was really interesting reading, and a unique experiment, because who else could have all those filters available for the study? One thing to learn from all the feedback on this subject; opinions vary.

    A long time ago, in the time before computers, my Nikkormat swung and bumped a rock on a trail in Hawaii (Kauai, where the road ends), and I was dumbfounded to see the filter all dented and smashed, broken glass all over, and the lens not affected. That taught me to not bump rocks. Don't remember exactly, but I probably went without a filter after that (since my filter was broke).

    As far as paying more for the best filters, some things just have to be taken on faith, and not that it matters, but I think there's a whole lot of ways of melting stuff down and calling it "glass".
     
  9. Two23

    Two23 Member

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    Yes, one lesson is don't bump rocks. But the other lesson is what I was getting at: people tend to be more careless when they think a filter is "protecting" their lens. Here's how I look at it. If you had been using the lens cap, or even just the lens hood, nothing would have been broken at all. If it was a 77mm B+W mrc filter you hit, not only would you be VERY lucky it didn't scratch the lens, but you are certainly out $77 (plus shipping) for the filter. That's still a pretty big hit. This is why I just use the lens cap and don't mess with flimsy filters.


    Kent in SD
     
  10. cowanw

    cowanw Member

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    I took the opposite view. I fell on cobblestones and the edge of my filter hit the stone and cracked. No damage to the lens at all. I decided the filter was a must. We are what our history makes of us.
     
  11. jstout

    jstout Subscriber

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    whatever
     
  12. Dr Croubie

    Dr Croubie Member

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    There's going to be as much debate about filters as there is over film vs digital. Short answer is, everything has its place.

    I got a cheap Tiffen UV for my general-zoom when I got my first (d)SLR. After a few months and a few tests, I got rid of it. I could actually see the difference that it made to lower IQ (not only the vignetting at the wide end).
    But then a few years later, I got the new Canon EF 70-300L, and put on a B+W MRC filter. Testing and pixel peeping with and without, there is absolutely no difference to IQ. Not only is it better glass, but it's multicoated (unlike the cheaper ones), and it's easier to clean with some fancy coating.

    Sure, lens hoods protect against falls, but lens hoods also tend to prohibit using CPLs (in general, but I hear Pentax makes a nice one with a cutout). And lens hoods just won't protect against sandblasting. Maybe you don't go down to the beach and shoot surfers, but I do. It's dusty and windy and sandy here in Aus.
    So if I'm going to shoot surfers or birds on the beach, it's UV and no hood (sometimes with CPL, I've also got a nice KSM CPL for that lens). If i'm shooting indoors on stage (with lots of incidental light from the roof), it's hood and no filter (well, sometimes filter, like I said there's no IQ loss so sometimes I just leave it on. And yes, I know a 70-300L is hardly a fast indoor lens, but if i'm using Delta 3200 there's no harm in going an extra stop to 6400).

    Also, see this: http://www.lenstip.com/113.1-article-UV_filters_test.html
    tl;dr: B+W MRC are good. Tiffen are junk. Good Hoyas are good, bad Hoyas aren't. Marumi ain't bad.
     
  13. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    I would use a UV filter if I felt it would be necessary for exposure control. Example, suppose I felt that I needed the extra precision offered by (also debated at length ... a Zone VI modified light meter). One of the interesting stories that Fred Picker told about the Zone VI modification is that, although he did include an IR blocking filter, he did not modify the meter on the UV end of the spectrum. For this, he said, you use a UV filter on the meter... and a UV filter on the camera. If I didn't want to make Fred turn over in his grave, by gum, I would use a UV filter if I used a Zone VI modified meter.
     
  14. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    I've been known to put the odd fingerprint where it doesn't belong, so I sometimes appreciate having an easily cleaned filter in front of my lenses.
     
  15. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    Here's what I do with my lenses.

    For all of my lenses, I have either NC (no color) or UV filters on them. I only use quality filters and most of them are Nikon branded NC type. As soon as I receive the lens, I inspect it and clean it if necessary, then the filter goes on. They don't come off unless I have a reason to do so.

    I'm sure this thread will soon evolve into lengthy argument as it always does. I know what works for me and I stick with that.
     
  16. Jeff Kubach

    Jeff Kubach Member

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    I use one to protect my lense if using color. If I'm using B&W I use yellow or orange, red.

    Jsff
     
  17. benveniste

    benveniste Subscriber

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    And the perpetual debate continues...

    In all of photography, I can't think of a subject where so much has been written about such a minor issue. Personally, I use protective filters only in adverse environmental conditions, but doesn't mean that's right for anyone else.

    Lens hoods, filters, and insurance each provide overlapping but different types of protection. A lens hood can deflect some incoming dangers, assuming they come in at the correct angle. They can also absorb some energy from a drop, and act as an "early warning" system when you are about to strike an obstacle. But when grit from a dirt bike or salt spray is coming at you, the lens hood isn't nearly as useful. Both hoods and filters work best against small "day-to-day" traumas, but for gear-destroying events, "all risk" insurance is your best bet.

    I've personally owned two lenses where I've picked up "cleaning marks" on the front element which a filter may well have prevented but a lens hood did not. The effect on lens performance of the marks is negligible; the effect on resale value much less so. One lens I sold at about a $100 discount off of a copy with clean glass. The other, a Nikon 180mm f/2.8D, went begging at the same reduction in price. Nor does insurance cover such losses; it's rightly considered normal "wear and tear."

    On the other hand, quality filters are not inexpensive, and adding even the best filter increases the likelihood of flare spoiling your shots. Compared to a clear protective filter, UV filters also block a small amount of additional visible light in the violet range. My tests showed that adding an B+W MRC 010 reduces overall transmission by about 1.8% and imposes a color shift of about 25 degrees K. These aren't huge effects, but there's no compensating upside unless you:
    • shoot either non-chromogenic B&W film or tungsten balanced color film AND
    • shoot either 25+ year old lenses or simple Tessar-like lenses.
    (I do both, which is one reason I haven't swapped out my 010 MRC's).

    In the end, it's your gear, your shots, and your money. If you feel uncomfortable enough using a lens without a filter that you start missing shots, then by all means use them. If, like me, you're willing to accept that lenses are tools, and that cosmetic wear and tear is part of the deal, then don't. No matter how long people argue about it, there's simply no "one size fits all" answer.
     
  18. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Member

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    I have a $95 UV(Haze) Kenko Zéta on all my lenses (alternates with B+W Kausmann C-POLs). I have never, not ever put a $5.00 filter on a $3,000 lens, as much and often as I observe others doing that. It's much easier to wreck a reasonably expensive filter than to wreck the front element of a lens, that's for sure. That is the guiding philosophy of providing protection, if not function (but a UV filter will reduce the excessive blue at higher altitudes; for everyday use though it has little visible effect and should be there for the protection of the front of the lens, no less). Filters do introduce an additional risk of flare and ghosting that can occur more easily, particularly with aspherical or apochromatic front elements.
     
  19. Two23

    Two23 Member

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    But you're still out a lot of money. If you keep the lens cap on when not taking a shot, you're out no money at all. Filters are false "protection." To place a quality filter on each of my lenses that cost more than $500 would cost much more than a lens repair! It makes no economic sense. Add to that you are placing the one thing that is best at scratching glass--pieces of thin glass--right next to your lens.


    Kent in SD
     
  20. osprey48

    osprey48 Member

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    Thank you so much for all your opinions. I wasn't expecting so many posts! I suppose it all depends on the conditions at the time of taking the shot. I just got so used to having the UV filter on all the time that I never considered taking it off, especially as I use rangefinders, so I'd never miss a shot due to forgetting to take the lens cap off! For landscapes on a tripod, I'll take the filter off for the shot in future and see if I can spot any difference.
     
  21. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Member

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    Lens caps are silly. Move on from that idea. More photographs have been lost from the task of removing camera and lens cap than in changing a filter.

    There is no contact with any element at all with any of the filters I use; that is made quite certain through years of experience. But I've been present to see other people in their enthusiasm quickly screw on a filter and watch it made rasping contact with the front element. Not funny. Filters crack when hit; they very rarely shatter. A side impact will damage the filter's ring, deflecting that damage from the lens flange (a much more serious type of damage).

    Some people might view it as false economy and risky. So too is using your camera at the beach. "No risk", they say. Period. You bet there is! :wink:
     
  22. pgomena

    pgomena Member

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    I use a UV filter as protection only if I'm shooting around salt water spray and not using another filter to manipulate the light. In 32 years, haven't damaged a lens. Yet.

    When I was a news photographer, my lenses were always in my bag with the shades on and the front caps off, shade-end down. In my Hasselblad kit, I always have the caps on. Same with my large format lenses.
     
  23. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    Since I do a lot of high altitude shooting, I use a UV filter strictly as a UV filter. I buy only the best quality. But what constitutes an appropriate
    one depends on the specific color film and field conditions. This requires testing. I almost never use them just to cover the lens - saltwater
    spray would be the rare exception.