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07-15-2009, 03:52 AM   #1
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UV or skylight filter?

As a newby to digital I am wondering about whether I should get a filter to protect the front lens element or not worry about it. I have them on my 35mm film camera lenses but have never scratched one, but I guess there is always a first time.

07-15-2009, 04:47 AM   #2
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I personally don't. They will always cause a drop in image quality.

If you do buy one, only use it when you think you need it, such as a volitile environment.

Instead, invest in a hood. You won't lose any IQ, it'll stop flare, it'll protect the front element and it's cheaper than a good filter.
07-15-2009, 04:49 AM   #3
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I have used both and while the UV filter does not affect the final image, (as it is basically a clear piece of glass) the Skylight introduces a slight warm cast to images taken with it. Pretty useful if you shoot with a lot of blue (like skies) in the background.
07-15-2009, 08:00 AM   #4
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As you will see, when using the Search function of the forum, this is a highly debated topic. SOme people always use filters, other hate even the idea of doing so.

A UV filter is basically clear and cuts UV radiation below 400nm (or so). SO it acts as a protective filter for the lens and can be of some use (in cutting down excess UV) at very high altitude, in snow scenes or on a bright sunny day at the sea. Otherwise its filter function is completely obsolete, as the lens' glass will perform most of the UV filtering anyway.

A really good UV filter will ofcourse degrade image quality (any additional glass in front of a lens will), but only at an invisible degree. A poor (cheap) filter can degrade the image quality visibly.

ANY filter will introduce additional flaring or ghosting, when used while shooting into lights (sun or streetlights or whatever). The best filters have an effective multi-coating, but that will not completely eliminate the additional reflections, only minimize them.

So, as a general advice, I would take off even the best filters, when shooting nigtly city scenes, having the sun in or near the field of view or generally, whenever there are strong light sources in the image (fireworks...)

A Skylight filter has a slight reddish hue and was useful in film days, to lower the colour temperature in shadwo areas and on overcast days. With digital it is completely obsolete, as the Auto White Balance of the camera will counter this warming effect.


07-15-2009, 08:52 AM   #5
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I would have to agree with 2Thumbs. A lens hood will protect from a fall and increase image quality. Check out this thread: Lens Hood Image Tests. I personally don't understand why someone would buy a $700 lens only to put a cheap piece of glass in front of it. Just my two cents.
07-15-2009, 12:33 PM   #6
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If you shoot film UV filters are best for B&W and skylight are best for colour slide film.
07-16-2009, 02:26 AM   #7
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Thanks for the comments. I won't worry about one for now.
07-16-2009, 03:44 AM   #8
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[I do wonder: those who insist a filter degrades the image, period, have they actually done the comparison themselves, or is this received information and/or theoretical argument?

I've done the comparison and for most shooting, I do not see a difference. Of course there are times when there is one - night lights, some direct sun situations etc.

When I look at how filthy the filter can get, I feel glad I'm only cleaning it rahter than the multi coated value-retaining front element of the lens itself

end of musing]

The tone of the filter does pass through the auto white balance - I've verified this as well by direct comparisons. So daylight and other slightly warming variants do make the photo a bit warmer in tone, even with awb.

ps. hi bessa66 - the bessa 66 is my favorite camera!

07-16-2009, 05:51 AM   #9
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Years ago I tried the use of a good UV filter (B&W) over my hexanon 1,7/50.

Used XP2 Super at iso 320.

Without filter, resolution: 90 pl/mm at the center.

With UV filter, resolution: 70 pl/mm at the center with less contrast.

I used a 30 x lupe.

Not easy to see but the difference is there.

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