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04-18-2007, 10:28 AM   #1
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Skylight/UV filters - where does overkill start?

I imagine I'm not the only one who puts a UV/skylight filter on the front of their lenses. I have always wondered just how much effect on the image putting one extra piece of glass in front of the lens had. Given that in many situations a skylight/UV filter probably wasn't necessary, I doubt an extra piece of glass helped.

Back in the day, at the time I bought my existing 35mm equipment, there was no internet. I travelled to the bright lights that had the nearest camera store, paid for the lenses I had ordered in prior to that, bought the single choice of skylight filter to put on the front to protect them, then headed on back out to the sticks.

Now I'm moving to digital, new lenses, etc. There's a lot more information out there, and my shopping options are also obviously much greater. Looking at 72mm UV filters from various makers, prices generally seem to range between $17 and over $100 for a skylight filter.

So here's the question: if you are going to put a skylight/UV filter in front of a good lens for protection as much as anything else, at what point in purchasing are you simply wasting your money and/or stroking your ego? I suspect it is unlikely a $17 filter doesn't degrade the image somewhat, and I doubt that most people will notice degradation in their images unless they buy the $100+ skylight filter. Where in the array of available filter choices is that "sweet spot": where most people will get a filter whose degradation effects on their images is unnoticed and balances nicely with purchase prices?

My first concern is choosing a UV/skylight filter for a Sigma 17-70 DC Macro, and right now a Hoya 72mm Haze UV(0) S-HMC at around $50 US seems to be in the shopping list. However, that is a choice made pretty much in ignorance, blindly picked from the midrange of available filters. I have no idea whether, as your average amateur outdoors photographer (if there is such a thing), I am buying not enough filter quality, more than I need, etc.

So, interested in others thoughts and opinions on the issue - and by all means feel free to suggest a filter from your own experience.

As an aside, while I never thought of it before, the idea of filtering haze is interesting. I assume that much of what a skylight/UV filter addresses is Rayleigh scatter (which gives us blue skies) and perhaps to a lesser extent Mie scatter. We deal with Rayleigh and Mie scatter all the time in my profession while doing remote sensing, but the imagery we are provided with is what we get - we don't collect it ourselves. I never really thought of the idea of it from ground level, or how well/effectively we deal with it.

Thanks for your thoughts and suggestions, folks.

04-18-2007, 10:38 AM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by Rick Quote

As an aside, while I never thought of it before, the idea of filtering haze is interesting. I assume that much of what a skylight/UV filter addresses is Rayleigh scatter (which gives us blue skies) and perhaps to a lesser extent Mie scatter. We deal with Rayleigh and Mie scatter all the time in my profession while doing remote sensing, but the imagery we are provided with is what we get - we don't collect it ourselves. I never really thought of the idea of it from ground level, or how well/effectively we deal with it.
I'm not sure if it deals with Rayleigh or Mie scattering directly, or just the consequences thereof. It is my understanding that Skylight and Haze filters have the slightest of rose tints which reduces the blue light transmission. UV's filter much have the filter cutoff much higher in the spectrum.

Someone please correct me if I'm off the mark...
04-18-2007, 12:32 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by d.bradley Quote
It is my understanding that Skylight and Haze filters have the slightest of rose tints which reduces the blue light transmission.
Skylight - yes, UV - no.
Skylight's tint is unnecessary in digital camera; but it won't cause any harm either.

For filter selection, multi-coated ones definitely perform better, especially in reducing the glare. So in case of Hoya, HMC is the minimum I would get. As for the incremental improvement of S-HMC and Pro 1 Digital and whether they are worth it, you have to be the judge. If you have unlimited budget, you can't go wrong with the top model
04-18-2007, 01:11 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Rick Quote
My first concern is choosing a UV/skylight filter for a Sigma 17-70 DC Macro, and right now a Hoya 72mm Haze UV(0) S-HMC at around $50 US seems to be in the shopping list. However, that is a choice made pretty much in ignorance, blindly picked from the midrange of available filters. I have no idea whether, as your average amateur outdoors photographer (if there is such a thing), I am buying not enough filter quality, more than I need, etc.
I have the same lens and I'm using Hoya HMC UV(0) 72mm. I haven't noticed any image degradation and I'm pretty picky guy. I've had just one or two pics out of few thousand where I've gotten undesirable reflections, but it's hard to say whether these come from the filter's extra glass or from the lack of the hood, which I quite unfortunately left home that day. That being said, I'd say go ahead, I doubt that you'll have any problems.

04-18-2007, 08:13 PM   #5
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Here's the best blah-blah on filters I have found (and contributed to):

Filter recommendation - Digital Camera Resource Page - Forums
04-18-2007, 08:54 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by SpecialK Quote
Here's the best blah-blah on filters I have found (and contributed to):

Filter recommendation - Digital Camera Resource Page - Forums
Thanks very much! Well, that's a bit to digest. Kind of leaves me on the fence about using filters primarily as a protective device. I do believe it is a lot easier to remove a filter and hold it in your hands while cleaning, rather than juggling a lens while cleaning.

Go with no protective filter at all... Hmmmm... novel idea for me; have to think about that one for a bit.

Thanks again for the link.
04-19-2007, 12:50 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Rick Quote
Go with no protective filter at all... Hmmmm... novel idea for me; have to think about that one for a bit.
Ditch the theory, buy a cheap filter and see for yourself. There are always people who scorn you for putting "cheap glass in front of multi-$$$ lens". I use UV filter for protection because I don't use lens cap.
04-19-2007, 08:42 AM   #8
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A filter is far less likely to effect image quality less then a scratches on the front element, and at the very least, resale value isn't effected by filter use, but who would buy a lens with a severely scratched front element.

04-20-2007, 02:57 AM   #9
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Shop a little harder on the web (ebay stores for example). I bought the Hoya Pro 1 UV for cheap. Since I have been bothered by vignetting in the past (film camera days), I also bought the Pro 1 Circular Polarizer way cheaper than retail. The Pro 1's are thinner than most of the competition (without going to the ultra-thin, big $ filters). The polarizer is 5mm thick and doesn't cut the corners at all on my 17-70. The UV is only 3mm thick.
From my photo class days, why put cheap filters in front of a big bucks lens?
Brian
04-20-2007, 07:04 AM   #10
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I had a lens and camera on separate occasions scream "freedom!" and jump out of my hands.

So all my lenses have filters. I'm kind of slow but I do learn.
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