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Old Sep 30, 2006, 3:56 PM   #11
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In 35 years of photography (since I was a kid), I always put a filter on the lens to protect the front element. And for 35 years, I never needed it. I went all of those years with nothing coming close to the front element of the lens.

Last May I bought an Olympus E-500. At one point, I reached around to the front of the camera to remove the lens cap...forgetting that I had already removed the lens cap. I put a big, greasy thumb print right in the middle of the lens on the VERY FIRST DAY I owned the camera. Now I had to literally wash the front element (you can't brush away a thumb print. All those years with no problems and the ONE lens I leave unprotected for 5 minutes gets a big ol' smudge.

I cleaned the element and got a filter on there pronto.

Honestly, I don't buy into the idea a filter degrading the image. Vignetting? Who ever heard of lens that couldn't take a filter without vignetting (unless it's a super fisheye)? I never had an image vignette because of a filter. Lenses often have 6, 8, 10 elements arranged together. I just can't believe that a thin piece of good quality optically flat glass is actually going to degrade an image...I've certainly never seen it.

But I do know that greasy smudge on your front element won't do you any good!
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Old Sep 30, 2006, 4:47 PM   #12
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Quote:
Honestly, I don't buy into the idea a filter degrading the image. Vignetting? Who ever heard of lens that couldn't take a filter without vignetting (unless it's a super fisheye)? I never had an image vignette because of a filter. Lenses often have 6, 8, 10 elements arranged together. I just can't believe that a thin piece of good quality optically flat glass is actually going to degrade an image...I've certainly never seen it.
As was, said, to each his own. However, nearly every fairly wide angle lens I've used (28mm and under, 35mm equivalent) vignettes at the far wide end with filters. I've also had serious issues with flare caused by filters when shooting in bright light. I know others (both personally and from forums)have experienced these issues as well. In addition, protective filters need to be removed when I use filters for effect (polarizer or ND are the only filters I use) which I find to be a hassle.

I'm sure at some point in time I will probably damage a lens element, but even after that happens, I still won't use protective filters unless I'm at the beach or out in extreme elements. I'd rather damage a lens than damage images because of filters that serve no purpose in enhancing the image.
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Old Sep 30, 2006, 5:00 PM   #13
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FWIW, I don't use UV filters with a Digital Camera either (although I've got plenty of filters: UV, Hot Mirror, etc.). Other than lens protection, they don't offer any benefits with most newer Digital Cameras from my perspective, and they can cause image quality problems (especially flare in harsher lighting).

Maybe my filters are not of high enough quality. But, in any event, I think I'll risk the lens damage instead.

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Old Sep 30, 2006, 7:37 PM   #14
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A protective filter will NEVER increase image quality.

If your a IQ perfectionist, you dont use one. If your a total gear-head, then of course you'll slap a filter on your baby permanently.

Day to day shooting does not merit a protective filter, but high-risk situations might (such as the water-rich environment of kayaking. Splashy-splashy!). In that case, you certianly want to use a high quality filter if your still looking for good images, or just use a cheaper camera if your not! That will REALLY protect your camera (leaving it at home).

A lens cap does a great job of protecting the lens, since most risk is when your NOT shooting anyway (unless your using an ultra-wide lens, they can lead to walking into things as you compose until you get used to them). Of course unexpected things can happen, like dropping your camera, or a big leather belt could fly off the steam engine your photographing sending bits of sticky black trash all over (happened to me). But I'm not going to spend a couple hundred dollars on good UV filters for all my lenses, then deal with thier various shortcomings in 99.5% of my photos, so that I can protect my lens from... what? A mark in the coating, at worst? Anything more than that and the filter has a low probability of saving you. I dont care that a good (expensive) filter wont degrade the image much, or will only do so in some demanding condition, I put up with the size weight and operation of a bag-full-o-gear to get the best images I can.
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