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Old Nov 3, 2010, 7:11 PM   #1
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Default Filter or not to Filter That is the Question

First, Thanks to all on this forum for the advice and guidence you have given every time I have asked a question. I have always been giuden in the right direction and for that THANKS.
Here's my new question-----
I have had several people tell me that I need to purchase a clear filter for both my lens to protect them from getting scratched.Their reasoning behind this is that they have had lenses scratched in the past from debris sand and the occasional mishandling. I have also had some people tell me that you don't need them and that they degrade the picture quality.
Does this come sown to just a personal preferance or is there some valitity behind it.
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Old Nov 3, 2010, 7:27 PM   #2
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Probably, it boils down to how, and under what conditions, people use their cameras. A filter does add another piece of glass in the light path to the camera, with potential for problems. Lens hoods are generally designed to keep extraneous light from striking the lens at angles that can cause flare. The filter, being in front of the lens, will be more susceptible to that.
On the other hand, if you have an expensive lens, and use it in places where there is sand or salt spray, you might look at things differently.
If you decide to use one, get one of good quality - some are available with hard coatings that are scratch resistant, as well as controlling internal reflections, and flare.
(I don't use clear filters myself)
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Old Nov 3, 2010, 10:16 PM   #3
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I have, and have wanted to find ones to fit my 'odd' size lens or one that doesn't have adapter or place for one. That said the only time I have scratched a lens was when carrying one in a pocket...the little doors which cover many point and shoots...open easily and with slight pressure...and the lens got several scratches from whatever else got put in there. Now I carry my new little one within a special soft case, alone.
Now, with major cameras never have had a problem, even when I fell and dropped it on the salt flat...no scratch. I 'usually' tend to protect the cameras with my hand or arm...just paranoid.
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Old Nov 4, 2010, 8:19 AM   #4
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I agree with Brian. If you're in harsh sandy, sea conditions then a filter can make sense. Otherwise there's potential to do more harm than good. A lens hood is a much better investment - if it's the proper hood for the lens there's zero harm to photos and the hood will prevent flare and help protect the front element. I have several lenses each over $1000 in value and I don't use protective filters on any of them anymore. But I also agree with Brian that if you're going to use one you want high quality ones that include coatings to help prevent flare.
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Old Nov 12, 2010, 10:29 AM   #5
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If they are not using a polarizer or other filter at the moment, many pros working in the field have UV filters on their lenses at all times. The image "quality degradation argument" is often a pixel-peeper obsession issue and not a practical, real world issue when using high-quality filters. In fact many professional Canon L lenses require a front filter to complete their weather sealing (maybe pro Nikon lenses too, I don't know). Just get a good one - Hoya or B+W, put it on, and don't worry about it. For some photographers, it has literally saved their (gl)ass.

And yes, lens hoods provide even better protection against both stray light and bumps and drops. Put them on all your lenses too.

There are some specific situations where it helps to take the UV off, such as night shots.

I anticipate numerous opinions below, of course. Maybe I should add that this is practical advice for travel, in the field, pulling the camera in and out of a bag, or not pulling the camera in and out cuz it's always out, not putting a lens cap on and off between every shot, needing to wipe off dust, kids prints, and mystery spots quickly, etc, etc, etc.

Oh never mind, just leave that expensive lens naked if you want to risk it and can afford to replace it.

Last edited by djkmann1; Nov 12, 2010 at 12:06 PM.
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Old Nov 12, 2010, 10:34 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by djkmann1 View Post
If they are not using a polarizer or other filter at the moment, most pros have UV filters on their lenses at all times.
I'm not sure where you found this nugget. In my experience the opposite is true. In my sports shooting experience I never used one - I don't know a single PJ that uses one and the wedding photographers I know don't use them. Granted this is a very small subset of the populace of "professional photographers" so I would never claim "most pros dont use them". Just curious what data you have that you claim "most pros do use them"?
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Old Nov 12, 2010, 11:00 AM   #7
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You're right, I don't actually know what most every photographer out there is doing! Wrong choice of words.

The day I have a client, reviewer, judge, colleague, or viewer say, "I really like what you've done here, but I feel you need to eliminate the effects of that UV filter you've put in front of your glass" then I will re-evaluate my practice. Until then, it works great for me. And that's what it's all about. There sometimes are no right answers - just do what works best for you and the way you photograph.

"opinions were like kittens, I was giving them away."

Last edited by djkmann1; Nov 12, 2010 at 1:59 PM.
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Old Nov 12, 2010, 11:14 AM   #8
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The only one thats a real help is circular polariser, that said I do have a UV one to tha I use when its hot and hazy
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Old Nov 12, 2010, 11:14 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by djkmann1 View Post
The image "quality degradation argument" is a pixel-peeper obsession issue and not a practical, real world image quality issue.
Not true. The quality degradation issue includes increased incidence of lens flare, color artifacts, etc. They are very noticeable, although they are not always (or even usually) present. We have had a number of people on this forum post photos with very serious IQ problems and ask what is wrong and whether their camera is broken that have turned out to be protective filter issues. The low-level degradation that comes from the presence of just another surface in the path is, I would agree, not a show-stopper.

But I would also suggest that the best protection of any lens is keeping a lens cap on except when you are actually shooting. If you get in the habit of doing that, the amount of time that the lens is exposed to danger is quite small, and corresponds to the time when you are most attentive to your camera anyway. So, barring an especially hostile shooting environment, a protective filter seems both unnecessary and undesireable to me.

Last edited by tclune; Nov 12, 2010 at 11:20 AM.
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Old Nov 12, 2010, 11:19 AM   #10
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yes a good habit to get into
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