Do you use a UV filter with your lenses?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by glocke12, Mar 7, 2010.

  1. glocke12 macrumors 6502a

    glocke12

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    Jan 7, 2008
    #1
    I recently bought a fairly expensive lens, and the salesman was trying to talk me into buying a heliopan UV filter with the lens, more as a means to protect the surface of the lens than anything.

    Ive used them before, but stopped because I was getting lens flare and would always forget to take it off to avoid it.

    Anyone here use one? Do you feel its really worth buying the more expensive ones? Aside from flare, do they affect image quality?
     
  2. Phrasikleia macrumors 601

    Phrasikleia

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    #2
    This question comes up a lot. There are those people who think there is no such thing as a good UV filter, so you're just degrading the nice glass of your lens by using one. However, there are some good reasons to use a UV filter. For starters, some lenses require a UV filter to complete their weather sealing. (Canon's utra-wide-angle lenses, for example.) Another reason is resale value; a lens that has no dust under the front element will be easier to sell.

    If you do buy one, get one that is multicoated. See this experiment for more information.
     
  3. filmweaver macrumors regular

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  4. macbrooke macrumors regular

    macbrooke

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    #4
    I don't personally, I understand filters serve a purpose in some applications but if this is not the case I find a lens hood is good protection from bumps and potential scratches.
     
  5. firestarter macrumors 603

    firestarter

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    #5
    Please search... this question comes up again and again.

    Even a good UV filter can cause ghost reflections in your photos, especially with high contrast subjects such as night time lights etc.

    A lens hood provides good protection, and so does camera insurance.
     
  6. Westside guy macrumors 601

    Westside guy

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    #6
    You should make this a poll. As you'll see from previous discussions, there are adamant supporters and detractors.

    If you're going to use one, you should spend the money to get a good one - and I'm not talking $20.
     
  7. Abraxsis macrumors 6502

    Abraxsis

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    #7
    I look at an UV filter like an SUV. If you live in the city, you probably don't need usually, but the one time you do you'll be glad you did. However, if you live the woods, it is indispensable most days.

    I shoot in a lot of wild locations miles and miles from civilization. When scrambling over rocks and down muddy slopes one should utilize every aspect of protection at his/her disposable. This includes UV filters, even if it is a cheap one. My buddy has saved his 70-200 VR three times, getting out of the situation with only a cracked UV filter. Ultimately, I carry a spare 77mm filter for my two large end pieces of glass, if I crack a UV filter I can change it and go on. Which is a far cry from what will happen if my front element gets cracked.

    It a classic "better safe and sorry" situation.
     
  8. SLC Flyfishing Suspended

    SLC Flyfishing

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    #8
    I have them, but I never use them. They were degrading my image quality too much; and there came a point where I just decided that I didn't spend $4,000 on a pair of lenses just to put an additional piece of glass in between them and my subjects, much less one that's no where near to the quality of the glass in my lenses.

    Lens hoods are your friend, so is good insurance and proper care when shooting.

    SLC
     
  9. pdxflint macrumors 68020

    pdxflint

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    #9
    I'm not sure a filter will prevent potential dust from getting behind the elements since most of it enters the lens from the openings (focus/zoom rings) and rear. Zooming usually causes a 'pumping' action of the air and if there is any dust at all in the body it can be sucked into the lens where it will float around and can wind up anywhere. Lens changes are the most likely time to get dust in your camera body, which can eventually wind up in your lens.

    I use filters primarily for protection and easy front surface cleaning depending on the environment I'll be shooting in (damp, rainy, fast action, lots of moving and running, etc.) and often don't have a lens hood on just because of the extra length and bulk. Without a hood attached, if I'm seeing flare I shade my lens with my hand -- works just fine in a pinch.

    If ultimate image quality is the primary goal, I don't use filters at all. Many types of shots won't work well with a UV filter on your lens, like fireworks, which I learned the hard way... ;)
     
  10. Phrasikleia macrumors 601

    Phrasikleia

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    #10
    It really depends on the lens. Have a look at this review and scroll down to the mouseover of the front element that shows the "pumping action" as you call it. This lens is designed to contain all of that movement up front, so a filter will seal it off to the elements. For any lens that is not weather sealed, then you'll have dust coming in at every opening.
     
  11. toxic macrumors 68000

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    Nov 9, 2008
    #11
    bad filters can affect CA and sharpness, in addition to flare.

    a "protective" filter has one use: protection from objects traveling on the same axis as the lens. a hood will protect the lens from drops and most other debris. so if you're prone to dropping your lens on stalagmites or shoot paintball or at a racetrack or somewhere with debris flying in all directions, a protective filter is useful. it has no use otherwise.

    some lenses require a front filter to complete their weather sealing. for Canon, these are the sealed, non-supertelephoto lenses, except for the 200/2. I don't remember them all, but I think they're the 14L II, 24L II, 50L, 85L, 24-70, 24-105, 70-200/4 IS and 70-200/2.8 IS.
     
  12. HBOC macrumors 68020

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    SLC
    #12
    As i stated in another thread, UV filters (in my experience and opinion) is a waste of money. I live in Portland, and I have hiked 10 miles into the wilderness one way and never had have a problem with my lenses. EVER. Of course when shooting waterfalls in the gorge (or wherever), i will use an ND filter to slow up the shutter.

    If you have to use a filter, you get what you pay for. If you have a $600 lens, you wouldn't want to degrade a photo with a $30 filter. Also, UV filters do nothing other than give a false sense of security for protection on a lens. Lenses have protection on them. They are coated from the factory. It would take a sandstorm to cause nicking in the front element. I have been shooting since I was 14 (I am 30 now), and have been in less than ideal conditions. I have never had any problems.

    It is good that people want to protect their gear. I am just stating what my experience is. I only spend money on filters that i need and that work for me. I usually dont shoot in mid day (dawn, dusk, night or overcast - which is alot in the PNW). So a polarizer is hardly used for me, but an ND filter is my most used filter.
     
  13. runlsd macrumors 6502

    runlsd

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    Mar 17, 2009
    #13
    Generally a good idea to protect the glass. But my current lens, Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 "pancake", has flare issues with UV filters.

    All of my previous lenses when I had a DSLR had UV filters on. Imagine if I scratched the glass.. my resale value would have plummeted.
     
  14. Phrasikleia macrumors 601

    Phrasikleia

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    #14
    Also 17-40/4L, 16-35/2.8L II. FWIW.
     
  15. VirtualRain macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

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    #15
    I always thought it was the job of the lens cap to provide protection when not taking a photo?! :p :)p = smart ass remark).

    I actually like the analogy to an SUV Abraxsis noted. Sometimes you need an SUV with winter tires and even chains to stay on the road. Sometimes summer tires on a sports car is adequate. I say equip yourself appropriately for the conditions.
     
  16. gnd macrumors 6502a

    gnd

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    #16
    While cheap filters definitely degrade the image quality (introduce ghosting and flare, decrease contrast, etc.) I wouldn't generalize this to all filters. For some of them (Hoya Super HMC for example) it would be really hard to prove that.

    I do believe in using filters to protect the lens. If you shoot in any kind of windy conditions you're sure to get dust (and other stuff) on your front element, I've even had to clean insects off my filter. It is also a lot easier to clean a filter than your front element (you can wash your filter under running water for example). Surface of the filter is flat, unlike most front elements and there are no deep edges where dust can hide and creep inside.

    You do get what you pay for with filters. So if you have to use one, use a multicoated one.
     
  17. TheReef macrumors 68000

    TheReef

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    #17
    I use them 50/50.

    In 'high risk' situations I use them...I've heard salt water (and other environmental nasties) can erode the coatings on the front of the lens, as gnd says they are much easier to wash.
    I remove them if there is flare to retrieve colour and contrast.

    I'd say get a good filter for every day protection, and in those instances where you want to squeeze as much out of the lens just remove it.
     
  18. Doylem macrumors 68040

    Doylem

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    #18
    I have always used 'skylight' filters on lenses. I don't think they degrade the image (compared to, say, photographing uninteresting subjects in poor light :p), but they make me feel more comfortable about using my gear in remote places. And if I'm not fretting about such things... I take better pix... QED
     
  19. GoodWrites macrumors newbie

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    Washington, DC Metro
    #19
    Search and decide

    Like "firestarter", I think you do a search online for a couple of articles (or at www.popphoto.com and other photography sites.

    The filter issue is like the Canon vs. Nikon issue (I'm a Canon guy -- ;)

    I used to use them all the time. They were always on my lens. I have all "L" glass from Canon. Now, I never use them unless I am using a polarizer for its effect.

    Why? I decided to buy insurance instead. I was heading to China through multiple airports and decided I needed a different type of protection. As a rider on my homeowner's policy, it is cheap. It is definitely cheap relative to the cost of replacing a stolen or dropped lens.

    BTW - I always use the lens hoods. I have dropped my camera once, and the hood saved the lens.

    Best of luck in your decision. No one can answer for you, regrettably. It is a very personal decision!
     
  20. Check 6 macrumors regular

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    Nov 12, 2007
    #20
    YES, if at all possible. There may be a slight reduction in image quality but I will take that to protect the lens. Example. I had my Canon EF 70-200 F2.8 lens in my camera bag with the UV fliter and the lens cap on. I don't know what bumped it but when I opened the bag later and took the lens out the cap was broken as was the filter but there was no a scratch on the lens coating. I will keep a filter on whenever possible. A lens hood will also offer protection when the camera is on your shoulder my .02
     
  21. jbernie macrumors 6502a

    jbernie

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    #21
    If you are in an environment where there will be things flying (small rocks etc) where you are increasing your risk of damage then you are probably going to be more comfortable with a filter, if you are sitting in a studio doing portraits only then your risk is greatly reduced, but it still exists as a kid might knock your rig over even if on a sturdy tripod etc, so a filter won't be the highest priority.

    If you can afford to have your lens damaged before you get off the first shot for the day when shooting the local car rally then more power to you, if the lens accept a filter and it does not cause issues with image capture then it is worth considering.

    Do you risk assessment but don't just go with the attitude of it will never happen to me as we all know how well that works.

    Edit: I will add that I think you were smart to walk away from the store without the filter so you can have a chance to see what was being offered and make an informed decision in good time & not by impulse.

    We saw some CF cards at Best Buy over the weekend (just browsing) and they had 4GB cards for the cost of 8GB cards (identical brand etc) through Amazon, if you had to buy one right away you just suck up and pay, but if you didn't need it that second you buy it through amazon & probably get next day shipping for still only 70% of the Best Buy price.
     
  22. SLC Flyfishing Suspended

    SLC Flyfishing

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    #22
    This is a cool story, but if I understand what happened in your bag properly, it sort of provides a reason not to fret over filters. You claim that your cap was broken, your filter was broken, but not a scratch on the lens? If your filter broke while it was on the lens and sitting in your bag, yet the broken glass didn't even scratch the front element, then don't you think the front element could take a lot more abuse than you imagine?

    I'd imagine that all of that broken glass would have at least lightly scratched the lens, but apparently they are even tougher than I imagine!

    SLC
     
  23. VirtualRain macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

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    #23
    It would be interesting for someone to do a video with an old lens to show different types of abuse to the front element of a lens just to get a feel for just how vulnerable it really is. Spray it with salt water, put it in sand, poke it with something, drop it, etc. Then see how difficult these things are to clean and how noticable the after-affects are, both cosmetically and in pictures taken with the abused lens.

    While I don't expect the front-element of my lens to be as robust at the windshield on my car, I do expect it to be less scratch resistant than a cheap piece of Plexiglas. :confused:
     
  24. gkarris macrumors 604

    gkarris

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    #24
    Used too...

    Took them all off - much better quality now (I was using the cheap filters, though).
     
  25. Chip NoVaMac macrumors G3

    Chip NoVaMac

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    Location:
    Northern Virginia
    #25
    I use UV/Protection filters all the time

    For disclosure I work in a high-end camera shop.

    More times than not I have seen where filters saved the lens from repairs when accidents happen. The key is getting a good filter IMO.

    For high-end lenses the newer "digital" filters help in reducing the potential for ghosting.

    Learned my lesson about filters a few years back on a trip to Chicago. My G9 got sprayed by some fountain water by the lake side.... Ended up with water spots that were tough to remove.... if I had only used a filter tube that day....
     

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