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Forums > Photography Talk > Can we talk UV filters, or even clear filters Search   Reply
first12
Photographer
CameraSight
Posts: 1,077
Roselle Park, New Jersey, US


Caveman Creations wrote:
No.

+1
I  use a lens shade/ hood

Jan 11 13 02:24 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Kevin Fair
Posts: 2,493
Palm Coast, Florida, US


ChanStudio - OtherSide wrote:

I have B+W UV MRC filter on all my lenses.. Shooting outdoor where high wind, on top of mountain, at the beach, etc can cause issues with front elements.  Also it is easier for me to clean the filter and not have to worry about sand/dirt, etc getting the front element scratch.  Lens hood won't do much (except for blocking the other light source) for me because of the way I abuse some of the lenses.. smile

In terms of degrading IQ with filter, I don't see much from B+W UV filter.  Probably 1% or 2%?.  I am more worried about AF accuracy, lights, composition, lens sharpness, etc.

The only other filter I have is B+W Circular Polarizer MRC filter, which I use to darken the sky, remove reflection etc.

+1

Jan 11 13 02:26 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
DougBPhoto
Posts: 37,852
Portland, Oregon, US


Hero Foto wrote:
going bareback is a little foolish ... guess that separates the pro from the gwc's

wink

what about my IR filters? or those soft focus filters?

If the purpose of a filter is to obtain a desired optical result, then definitely use it.

If the purpose of a filter is because you're afraid or paranoid, take up crossword puzzles, unless you're afraid of a paper cut.

Jan 11 13 02:29 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Hero Foto
Posts: 878
Phoenix, Arizona, US


DougBPhoto wrote:
If the purpose of a filter is to obtain a desired optical result, then definitely use it.

If the purpose of a filter is because you're afraid or paranoid, take up crossword puzzles, unless you're afraid of a paper cut.

70-200 2.8 has got a nice nic across the front element ... no glove = sad

happened at a tough mudder ... so yeah, I AM PARANOID ...

Jan 11 13 02:41 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
DougBPhoto
Posts: 37,852
Portland, Oregon, US


Hero Foto wrote:

70-200 2.8 has got a nice nic across the front element ... no glove = sad

happened at a tough mudder ... so yeah, I AM PARANOID ...

Typically lenses are at greater risk of damage due to dropping, maybe we should cover them in bubble wrap at all times.

Cameras are more likely to break each time we trigger the shutter, maybe we shouldn't clicky clicky then.

Jan 11 13 02:46 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Hero Foto
Posts: 878
Phoenix, Arizona, US


DougBPhoto wrote:

Typically lenses are at greater risk of damage due to dropping, maybe we should cover them in bubble wrap at all times.

Cameras are more likely to break each time we trigger the shutter, maybe we shouldn't clicky clicky then.

i get it, just givin' ya some $#!t ... smile

Jan 11 13 02:48 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
ACPhotography
Posts: 8,619
Plainview, New York, US


Hero Foto wrote:

70-200 2.8 has got a nice nic across the front element ... no glove = sad

happened at a tough mudder ... so yeah, I AM PARANOID ...

Should have had the lens hood on...

Jan 11 13 02:58 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Michael Fryd
Posts: 3,606
Miami Beach, Florida, US


Untitled Photographer wrote:
I use UV filters on all my cameras.  I have read that digital cameras are not subject to US problems like film cameras are.  I've also read that US filters can lead to less sharp images.  I have not experimented to see if this holds true on my cameras, I'm not sure if I have the eyesight to tell the difference.

I use a UV filter only because I'm worried about breaking a camera lens.  The truth is I have never even bumped one of my lenses, I'm super cautious.

So I thought I would put this out to the experts:

1) how do we feel about UV filters on digital cameras
2) How do we feel about using any filter in order to protect the lens.

Cheers!

At best a filter will have no noticeable impact on image quality.  At worst, it will cause noticeable flare and/or noticeable decreased contrast.

Ignore anyone who tells you whether or not filters will affect your images.  Without knowing the specifics of your shooting circumstance, they don't know.  In some circumstances even a cheap filter won't be a problem, and in some circumstance even the best filter will add flare.

If you shoot against bright white backgrounds, have light sources in/near the image, use hair/rim lights, or shoot a model with the sun setting in the background, then you should be careful with filters.  These are the circumstances that are most likely to cause a problem.

Digital is more susceptible to flare than film so you can't apply film experience to digital.  Unlike film, digital cameras are generally not UV sensitive, so there is no need for external UV filtering.

Put your camera on a tripod and take some typical shots both with and without filters.  Layer them in Photoshop and put the top layer in difference mode.  If there is no difference you will see a completely black frame.  Flare will show up as white marks.  Decreased contrast will show up as grey areas.

Perform this test and then you will know how filters affect your image quality.


In terms of fingerprints, a smudge on the filter affects the image the same as a smudge on the lens.  If you can clean your filter, you can clean your lens.



In terms of physical protection, filters don't provide much (if any).  A good filter is a very thin (and fragile) piece of glass.  The front element of your lens is probably much stronger.

In terms of finance, a good filter can easily cost more than a lens repair.  Imagine a filter costs $150, and the lens repair costs $200. 
- if you never have a problem, you would have saved $150 by not buying the filter.
- If the filter sacrifices itself to save the lens, you would have saved money without the filter.  The lens repair is $200.  The broken filter was $150, the replacement filter was another $150, totaling $300.  Much more than the repair.




Where a filter is useful is when it gives you a psychological boost.  Some people won't use their lens without a filter.  Put the filter on the lens and they take chances they wouldn't otherwise take.  Even with added flare a picture you catch is better than no picture at all.


There certainly are circumstances where a filter is a good idea.  These are much rarer than most salesmen would lead you to believe.


My advice is to weigh the pros and cons of filters and decide what's right for you.  Base your decision in reason, not sound bites.

- Perform a test to see how filters are affecting your image quality.

- Run the numbers to see what filters are costing you.

- Make an honest assessment of how much protection filters are actually providing.

Only then will you be able to make a rational decision on what's best for you.

Jan 11 13 04:47 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
CP_
Posts: 310
Seattle, Washington, US


Jan 11 13 09:08 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Hero Foto
Posts: 878
Phoenix, Arizona, US


ACPhotography wrote:

Should have had the lens hood on...

silly :p

the hood protects the sides not the front ... when the debris came at me, it was from the FRONT ... so ya me ... seen it coming thru the viewfinder way too late ...

Jan 12 13 04:33 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Al Lock Photography
Posts: 15,832
Bangkok, Bangkok, Thailand


The only filters that ever go on my lenses are polarizers or ND filters. I do not use filters to protect the glass. I do always have the hoods on them (and have one that the hood saved the lens from serious damage, but the hood was trashed).,
Jan 12 13 04:37 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Dark Shadows
Posts: 2,269
Miami, Florida, US


Jan 12 13 04:46 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Michael Fryd
Posts: 3,606
Miami Beach, Florida, US


Hero Foto wrote:
silly :p

the hood protects the sides not the front ... when the debris came at me, it was from the FRONT ... so ya me ... seen it coming thru the viewfinder way too late ...

There are a few important questions to ask:

1) Are your trying to keep the front element clean, or are you trying to keep the optical path clean?

2) What sort of physical protection does the filter really provide?

3) Is the filter more or less expensive then the repair you are hoping to prevent?


If you are trying to keep the front element element clean because you believe that a smudge will hurt image quality, then a filter doesn't help.  A smudge on the filter is as bad as a smudge on your lens.  On the other hand some people believe that a filter increases the lens' resale value.  Perhaps people will pay more if you say the lens always had a filter on it.  If this is your goal you should also use a lens coat to protect the lens, and perhaps leave the lens at home.  An unused lens still in the box will likely be worth even more.



If you are trying to provide physical protection you need to realize that the filter is much more fragile than the front element of a typical lens.  We see lots of posts of people proudly showing off damaged filters with the claim that it saved their lens.  We see very few images of damaged front elements from people who don't use filters.  When we do, it's a situation where the filter would not have helped.

In order for a filter to save your lens, the impact must be to the filter glass.  It must be an impact that is just big enough that it would have hurt the lens.  The hope is that the small amount of energy dissipated in breaking a filter weakens the impact enough that it will no longer hurt the lens.  A strong impact (such as a big pebble at a car race) will pass through the filter and still hurt your lens.   The danger of a filter is that an impact that would not have hurt the lens will break the filter, and the filter shards will damage your lens.


Then there's the economics.  Most people will never damage their front element (with or without a filter).  The money spent on filters is money better spent elsewhere.  Even if they do damage a lens or two over the years, the repairs likely cost less than years of filters for every lens.


Obviously people are capable of taking great images with filters on their lenses.  You can even take a great picture with a consumer lens, a pinhole camera, or a 3 megapixel SLR.  However it's easier to take a good picture when you stack the odds in your favor.

Jan 12 13 05:13 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
photo212grapher
Posts: 1,538
Saint Louis, Missouri, US


I use the cheapest UV filter I can find. I use them as screw-on lens caps. The only time I shoot through the filter is when the environment warrants it - which is quite rare for me. A dust storm might be one time to consider using a filter.
Jan 12 13 05:21 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Michael Fryd
Posts: 3,606
Miami Beach, Florida, US


photo212grapher wrote:
I use the cheapest UV filter I can find. I use them as screw-on lens caps. The only time I shoot through the filter is when the environment warrants it - which is quite rare for me. A dust storm might be one time to consider using a filter.

If you are using a filter as a lens cap, you might want to paint it black.  If you happen to put your camera down with the lens facing the sun, the lens can focus the sun onto your shutter and burn a hole.  A plastic lens cap prevents this.

As to shooting in a dust storm, the real threat is dust getting into the lens barrel.  As it turns out, the front element is already a good dust barrier (dust does not pass through glass).   Dust typically enters a lens through openings in the barrel, around the zoom and focus rings. 

Many lenses change length when focusing or zooming.   As the internal volume of the lens changes it breathes air on or out.  If you have one of these lenses, then the danger is that it will suck in dust as you focus or zoom.  A filter won't make a difference.

To be fair, there are a small number of lenses that require a filter in order to complete the weather sealing.  If you have one of these lenses, and you frequently shoot up into the rain, then a filter may be in order.

If you are shooting in a dust storm, then maximizing contrast may be a concern.  This is exactly the circumstance where you may need to remove the filter to maximize image quality.   The irony of protective filters is that the circumstances where they may be actually useful are generally those circumstances where image quality concerns would have you remove them.

Jan 12 13 05:30 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Hero Foto
Posts: 878
Phoenix, Arizona, US


I live in the desert, primarily shoot extreme sports and the typical action sports where I put myself and gear into the action and damn close to it, too close sometimes ... I will take my chances w/ a UV filter attached ... my call ... my money ... and my piece-o-mind ... luv the alternative viewpoints ...
Jan 12 13 05:37 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Michael Fryd
Posts: 3,606
Miami Beach, Florida, US


Hero Foto wrote:
I live in the desert, primarily shoot extreme sports and the typical action sports where I put myself and gear into the action and damn close to it, too close sometimes ... I will take my chances w/ a UV filter attached ... my call ... my money ... and my piece-o-mind ... luv the alternative viewpoints ...

Yes.  It is your call, and you should use the gear you want. 

If the filter gives you the mental boost to shoot, then it is helpful.

When it comes time for others to decide, it's helpful if they understands the pros and cons of filters.  Some people don't need a filter, a lens coat, or other protective device in order to go out on a limb to shoot.

Jan 12 13 05:42 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Chris David Photography
Posts: 430
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia


I have a number of filters from B+W to Colkin and cheapo ones off ebay. I will never put any of them on unless I need its effect in a shot. Every filter does effect the image quality to some degree from slight with the high quality to ones to more moderate soft and colour casts with the cheap ones. I've had 3 damaged lens to date and not one would have been avoided by any filter.
Jan 12 13 07:06 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Michael Fryd
Posts: 3,606
Miami Beach, Florida, US


Chris David Photography wrote:
I have a number of filters from B+W to Colkin and cheapo ones off ebay. I will never put any of them on unless I need its effect in a shot. Every filter does effect the image quality to some degree from slight with the high quality to ones to more moderate soft and colour casts with the cheap ones. I've had 3 damaged lens to date and not one would have been avoided by any filter.

A slight color cast might be an issue with transparency film, but it shouldn't be  problem for digital.

A custom white balance (or Auto White Balance) will generally compensate for a small color cast introduced by a filter.


A color cast does indicate that you are losing some light to the filter (the color cast is due to the loss varying across the color spectrum).  If the color cast is slight, then the loss of light is likely small enough that it won't be an issue.

Jan 12 13 07:33 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
DougBPhoto
Posts: 37,852
Portland, Oregon, US


Hero Foto wrote:

silly :p

the hood protects the sides not the front ... when the debris came at me, it was from the FRONT ... so ya me ... seen it coming thru the viewfinder way too late ...

I hope you're wearing a helmet for your protection.

If you can't see stuff coming at you, I'm genuinely concerned that it might be unsafe for you to be out there shooting.

If something can damage your lens when the camera is in front of your face, you're probably really lucky that it did not hurt you.

Sounds like maybe you need to be more aware when you're shooting sports, but so long as that UV filter protects your gear.

BTW, are you shooting Nikon or Canon?  I may want to call "dibs" on your gear.

Jan 12 13 10:00 am  Link  Quote 
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