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09-08-2013, 03:26 AM   #1

UV filters - digital Cameras

Do digital cameras need UV filters?

Does a polarizing filter work/help with digital cameras?

09-08-2013, 03:47 AM - 1 Like   #2
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UV or Not?

Hello Thomas,
No, digital cameras don't need a UV filter, the UV protection is built-in. In fact an added filter sometimes can degrade image quality. More glass surfaces in front of the lens can create reflections and flare, particularly when shooting in the direction of a strong light source.
The best protection for your lens is a matched lens hood.
A circular polarizer (CPL) is one of the few exceptions to the 'no-filter' policy; It has an effect that can't be added or created in post-processing. A CPL, when used properly, will increase contrast, improve image quality and enhance colors.
The other filter that's sometimes used for digital photography is a neutral density (ND) filter; This has an overall darkening effect, used to slow down shutter speeds to smooth out water flow, blur moving objects and sometimes to even out extremes of light/dark areas. It is also helpful for timed or night exposures, again to create long shutter speeds.
09-08-2013, 05:30 AM - 1 Like   #3
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I'm with Ron, some will advocate using a UV filter as 'protection' though how a thin piece of glass can offer any 'protection' eludes me. What's certain is adding any filter can only degrade the image, flare will happen much more readily and a lens hood gives you more mechanical protection.

09-08-2013, 08:37 PM   #4

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QuoteOriginally posted by ChrisJ Quote
though how a thin piece of glass can offer any 'protection' eludes me
It doesn't elude me.

I worked in so many countries I have difficulties to name them all, but I have no difficulties to name the regions where, after just one day outdoors, everything was covered with a thin oily film. It was mainly from getting energy by burning coal with a high percentage of sulfur. And there were often very fine metallic particels included.
Western part of Turkey, East Germany, Taiwan, and some regions of what is today Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Bosnia come to mind.

Whatever you used for the daily cleaning of the front lens, after some years you would own a fine soft portrait lens, increased flare included.

The environmental situation I just described has improved a lot since, but in the film days - since multi-coated filters were available - even a lot of professionals used a combination of lens hood AND filters. I did, and removed the filter only in situations where a light source was within or near the AoV.

Indeed UV filters aren't needed with DSLRs for getting sharper images at the seaside and above 1200m from sea level, or if you have snow/white sand with a blue sky.

But I also sometimes ask myself why the general bashing of filters to protect the front lens started only when the digital age enabled serious pixel peeping.
I know and have experienced myself that filters in some situations can reduce contrast and increase flare so much that you can really see it. But in many situations I decided to risk this.

Personally, I don't use protecting filters with all of my lenses, and when I do, in special situations I may remove them. But I always use a lens hood.

EDIT: By the way, I used mostly original SMC Pentax filters.

Last edited by RKKS08; 09-08-2013 at 09:38 PM.
09-12-2013, 05:00 AM   #5
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The only time I have ever had to scrap a lens was way back in the '60's when I had a UV filter on my Takumar lens, I went through a door and clobbered the lens against the door jamb which shattered the filter and it scratched the lens coating even though it had a rubber lens hood on at the time. I've never used one since.

I've had contracts with the National Coal Board and British Steel since then, my cameras have been down coal mines, had white hot spelter bouncing off them, which played havoc with the leatherette, but just bounced off the lenses, which I still have, and use. I love trains and am often in the Barrow Hill roundhouse which is just down the road from me, diesel trains certainly kick a lot of oily exhaust and in the confines of the workshops certainly 'oil up' your lenses, after a quick clean they are as good as new.

My lenses have been in situations where I wasn't allowed even with all the protection gear, but I've never had to scrap a lens yet. Lenses are tougher than you think.

02-24-2014, 04:51 PM   #6
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I use an UV filter to protect the lens from scratches, or in a fall - and a polarizing filter works great....
02-24-2014, 05:33 PM   #7
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I always use a UV when the camera is in the bag and never have it on when I using my camera....
02-24-2014, 05:58 PM   #8
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I've stopped using filters after I noticed reflections in my images.

I will use them if I take photos in e.g. a blistering sand storm, though.

Last edited by sterretje; 02-25-2014 at 03:06 AM. Reason: Added PS
02-25-2014, 02:11 AM   #9
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Nowadays all my lenses run naked, but I do use hoods on them just to keep their modesty you understand.
02-25-2014, 02:37 AM   #10
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Protective Shields? Mr. Spock... Bones... What would you do?
02-25-2014, 05:51 AM   #11

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QuoteOriginally posted by Thomas23456789 Quote
Do digital cameras need UV filters?

Does a polarizing filter work/help with digital cameras?
You'll find countless threads on this topic here on the forum regarding UV filters. There is no universal agreement, except that the UV protection isn't necessary. The physical protection is where opinions differ. Nobody disagrees that they degrade image quality, but many of us use cameras (still) with AA filters, and they degrade image quality as well. You can simply try a UV filter and decide for yourself. Most people would suggest a multicoated filter, but I have 3 of the same model hoya mc filter: two are obviously mulitcoated, and one apparently not, despite the mc label.

Polarizing filters work and everybody agrees they can be useful.
02-26-2014, 06:43 PM   #12
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Polarizing filters work. Some say you need a "circular" polarizer because linear polarizers confuse the AF on DSLRs. But some say thats not true.

UV filters.. well, yeah, only as protection, from sea spray or wind blowing sand.. it makes sense in some situations. But I think there are special "protection" filters for that purpose.
DSLRs don't really pick up UV light anyway. UV filters were important in the film days, since UV can affect photos
02-26-2014, 07:29 PM   #13
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I keep cheap "filters" on pretty much everything. Even the WR stuff. I also use a hood on pretty much everything. If the filter causes a problem, I remove it and stick it to the lens cap.
It's a pain in the butt and serves no useful purpose. I hate getting an old lens that has had its coating polished off, so its kind of superstition that if I treat my lenses extra-well, I won't get crap lenses from eBay.
So far, this approach has served no practical purpose either. I still do it anyway.
02-27-2014, 12:03 PM - 1 Like   #14
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For the first 20 years or so I used cameras, I religiously paid $$ and put UV filters on all my lenses. For the last 25 years or so, I have not. None of my lenses show any front element degradation at all. I go out in all weathers, I don't take any precautions when they would prevent the taking of the photo I want, and I don't screw filters on and off except for polarizers. I do use lens hoods at all times. They serve two purposes: they cut down flare by shading the front element from bright light sources just outside the lens' field of view, and they provide mechanical protection when you bump into something. Make that three: When careless a**h***s elbow your camera, it hurts (particularly with petal hoods!) and they pay more attention.
09-09-2014, 09:25 PM   #15
susan lloyd

getting dark skies w/pentax k 30

Took new Pentax K 30 to France to a festival on the Mediterranean last June (2013) and got--accidentally-terrific dark skies, as if, in the old days, I'd used a red filter. Camera was set on jpeg custom image BLACK AND WHITE (my usual format). Now, I can't get the dark/black skies even though I haven't changed any settings that I know of. How do I get the dark skies back--is there a filter feature I can dial in (have checked the manual of hours and can't find anything) to regain this effect. Thanks!

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