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Old Sep 18, 2007, 1:49 PM   #1
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Received wisdom is that you should ALWAYS have a UV or Skylight filter on your lens to protect the front element from scratching and so that there is something to break (other than the expensive lens) if you drop it. On another discussion I have seen a suggestion that this is old fashioned thinking - routine cleaning and use won't scratch your front element, modern lenses will do any necessary UV absorbtion anyway, and if you do drop your lens you should use the insurance to replace it. The suggestion is that the UV filter, adding an extra element, increases the risk of flare and reduces the sharpness of the picture.

What to we think?

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Old Sep 18, 2007, 3:39 PM   #2
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Whilst any extra glass you add causes problems, I know taking photo's of my 2 1/2 year old boy would be folly without something in front of the lens. I don't know what it is children secrete, but it should be harvested and used as an industrial adhesive.
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Old Sep 18, 2007, 3:49 PM   #3
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Necessary? No... But I use UV or Skylight filters on most of my lenses because I cannot afford to damage my lenses. I know it causes some loss of image quality, especially in strong back lighting or when dealing with bright light sources at night, but I just want the security of that protection of my outer lens elements. This trade-of is an individual choice, modern lens coatingsare far more resistant to stains and scratches than older lenses were but I need that psychological sense of security (we all have our own neuroses ).

I guess, in some things, you cannot teach an old dog new tricks.

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Old Sep 18, 2007, 6:40 PM   #4
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Hi AK,

This is a long-standing discussion which you really have to answer for yourself. Here are the considerations I used to make my decision.

UV filtration is not really needed since the sensors in most digital cameras have a UV block built in, so that shouldn't be a concern.

Image degradation is largely dependent on the quality of the filter, so a multi-coated filter from a reputable mfg will largely reduce this possibility. The multi-coating will reduce the flare and the quality assured by a reputable mfg will cut the potential for optical distortion. Unfortunately these filters are relatively costly, but the good news is that they are usually significantly less expensive than a new lens.

Rigid lens hoods should be used whenever practical (the only reason I can see for not using one is that it might block a portion of the frame with a wide lens when using the built-in flash, but this won't be a problem if you use an external flash unit). In addition to reducing flare, they protect the front element from physical damage from bumps and such. So that's generally my solution for protecting my glass -- always use a rigid hood, and keep the cap on when not actually shooting.

I personally have chosen not to use protective filters. But I've never dropped a lens or any of my cameras, and tho I'm always conscious of, and careful with my gear, I don't in any way baby it, and I ALWAYS have a camera with me. I hardly ever use a neck strap, as I find them uncomfortable and they allow the camera to swing around, adding to the possibility of it smacking into something. I prefer using a Camdapter Grip Strap, so my camera is always in my hand, allowing me to always be very conscious of where it is. My shooting style and subjects also don't often expose my lenses to blowing sand or other materials that might damage my lenses.

But that's my situation. . . yours might be different. . .

Just know that there really isn't a universally "correct" answer. Each person has to evaluate their style and personal habits, then make their own decisions about this. To be on the safe side, I'd start with the filters, then, if after some reasonable experience, if I found that they were extraneous, I'd just stick them in the bag for the situations where they might add protection when needed.


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Old Sep 18, 2007, 9:51 PM   #5
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I used them all the time until one time I was shooting some night pictures in Vegas and got lots of ghosting. Since some of my lenses are close to 25 years old, and I was using the same filters I had purchased in 1980, I decided that they really weren't needed, within reason. I don't think I'd use an unprotected lens to shoot off-roading races held on the dry lake next to Primm, NV or in a sandstorm or anything like that though. The only time I've dropped a lens was right after I got the DS and was snowshoeing on top of a mountain (the highest point around this area). I hadn't perfected the two-handed lens change technique (hadn't even heard of it) and wasn't really paying attention. Just as I removed the first lens and was getting the second lens ready to put on the camera, a gust of wind came from the left and almost knocked me over. I did drop the lens - but there was a couple of feet of snow on the ground so it had a soft landing and the linear polarizer on it wasn't scratched. But did I ever get dust in the camera, both the viewfinder and the sensor that day (Ira - that's how the viewfinder came to have so much dust).

Moral of the story - make sure you have your back to the wind, have the rear cap off and the lens lined up in your right hand. Use your right hand to push the lens release button, then remove the old lens with your left hand as you put the new lens on the camera with your right - the camera body won't be exposed for more than a second or less. That way you'll limit how much dust gets in the camera. How did I get SO off-topic??!
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Old Sep 19, 2007, 2:09 AM   #6
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It is kind of a dilemma if you have good lenses - a cheap lens doesn'tdeserve protection and can't stand any further degradation; an expensive lens deserves protection, but the quality you bought it for shouldn't be subjected to any degradatrion. So what to do? Can you afford to replace it if it is damaged? It is a personal choice. But if it is damaged during use and no replacement is at hand, the cost of the lens is not an issue - only its usability.

routine cleaning and use won't scratch your front element
True, but it isn't the routine that you need to protect against. The driver who sees no other car and doesn't bother to signal is the one who gets hit by the car he didn't see. I used to hear people say they didn't need liability insurance because if they had an accident it wouldn't be their fault. People who don't use filters are in the latter category, and they run the risk of being unable to replace a favorite lens that has been discontinued (unless of course they are looking for an excuse to upgrade). On the other hand, pictures sometimes cannot be retaken if quality has been compromised, but equipment can, so again it boils down to a personal choice.

They used tosell a special tool for straightening out bent filter rings, so impact damage was certainly common enough (the tool couldn'tbe safelyon the lens retaining ring without scratching the glass) - I once had to cut a badly bent filter ring to get it off; the filter was toast, but the lens survived. Had that damage happened on a trip I could have continued to use the lens, but if the filter had not been on it, the lens could have beenunusable and I would have been up the proverbial creek without a paddle. So Ihave alwayskept filters on my lenses,knowing I couldtake them off if the situation warranted, but there were those instances when you didn't know you should not have used one until theslides were returnedand it was too late to do them over. Digital photography changes your way of thinking as there are now fewer inflexible rulesand no film costs - you can correct for some types and degrees of degradation in post processing, and you can review your pictures as you take them if the situation allows (landscapes or portraits vs birds in flight, which you can't retake), and then take more.Specialty filters used to let you do things you could not do otherwise so they were indispensible, but now some effects can be done in camera and/or on the computer, so there is less need for them for anything but protection, and we are getting out of the habit of usingfilters- so again a personal choice.
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