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10-16-2011, 03:33 PM   #1
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UV filters, do I really need one?

I've read a lot of talk about UV filters on this forum but I don't really understand the purpose. I get that they can help protect the objective of the lens but does filtering UV light really do anything as far as image quality? Should I worry about spending the extra $20 to get a UV filter for each of my lenses?

10-16-2011, 04:43 PM   #2
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It's not going to help your image quality any, in fact it will probably cause a slight reduction in IQ. Shooting around bright light sources can cause problems too, with a reflection of the light source bouncing off the filter, causing a kind of ghosting.

UV filters are one of those addon items that only serve to make the salesperson richer. Skip it, and and pick up a lens hood instead (you can get a cheapie one on ebay, they still work fine too).

I've seen some crazy threads about this subject, even reaching the point of flame wars (not talking about this site specifically). Expect similar if this thread carries on. People are very polarized on the issue...
10-16-2011, 04:47 PM   #3
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UV filters won't do anything good for you besides protection for the lens. In fact, putting a $20 filter on a $500 lens (just for the sake of example) doesn't make sense since it will only degrade image quality. If you want to protect your high dollar lenses then do not spare on filter quality (that means a good $70-80 filter). I highly suggest you read the article and test over at lenstip.com on UV filters; it sheds some really good light on the subject.
10-16-2011, 06:26 PM   #4
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UV filters mainly protect the finances of whomever sells them. There are a few specific occasions when 'protective' filters are good:

* Where are you? If you're in and extremely humid-polluted area, clear optical filters are safer to re-clean than is the lens objective. If you're well above 10000ft / 3000m elevation, UV filters may reduce UV a little -- but most dSLR sensors and lenses are UV-immune anyway.

* Where do you shoot? If you're in flying salt spray or sand or gravel, or amidst spurting mud-blood-beer, then a clear optical filter is real nice to have.

UV filters are necessary for film, not for digital sensors. Clear optical filters are good when you're in brutal conditions. Otherwise, forget them. I have a zillion, acquired when buying bulk-lots of photo gear. I use them as lens-covers on the lenses I sell because they're worth less to me than are plastic lens caps. Or if I need an extension ring, I knock out the glass. But I don't put them on lenses I actually use.

10-16-2011, 06:50 PM   #5
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Hi TopherTheME
There's two things here.
Obviously, no filter will be optically better. However I don't think you should ever clean the front element of your lens, so I use UV filters to ensure that I only ever need to clean the filter. Even if you think you're doing no damage wiping the front of your lens clean, it's better never to touch it. Dust and oils will eventually damage the surface - so I use a puffer to blow off dust before screwing on the filter, and that's it.

The second is, having made the decision to use a filter, you should only buy multi-coated UV filters or polarizers.
Make sure when you buy one that it 'looks a bit green or purple'. - Look at the filter and try and get a reflection of a light fitting or the sun in it. A good quality filter will produce a dull reflection of the light fitting that looks either dark green or purple - the better the coating the less the reflection. A cheap filter that's just a piece of window glass will produce a bright reflection that is like a mirror.
Best I've found for a good price are the Hoya Multi Coated - so called HMC range. Also like Kenko Pro-1 D.

Also, $20 does sound pretty cheap. I would spend about quarter the price of the lens on a UV filter and up to half for a circular polarizer - mind you, 49 or 52mm filters might be nearly available that cheap, but price certainly shoots up with filter diameter.
10-16-2011, 07:04 PM   #6
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There's a sucker born every minute and when i bought my camera i was one of them and spent an extra $40 to get two cheap lens filters.
I have had problems with reflection and ghosting especially in long exposure night shots.
10-16-2011, 07:40 PM   #7
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While there are opinionated people on both sides of the issue, two considerations are the price of your lens, and how easy it is to clean the front element. If you have a lens that you can readily replace for $100, you probably don't want to spend almost that much on a filter to protect it. Similarly, some lenses have flat front elements that are relatively easy to clean. Other lenses have more rounded front elements, and it's usually difficult to clean into the recessed portion where the glass meets the lens body.

Paul
10-16-2011, 09:49 PM   #8
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I've always used protective filters in the film days. When I started with a dSLR, I did the same; I however removed them quite quickly after I ran into problems with reflections.

10-16-2011, 10:05 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by calsan Quote
Hi TopherTheME

However I don't think you should ever clean the front element of your lens, so I use UV filters to ensure that I only ever need to clean the filter. Even if you think you're doing no damage wiping the front of your lens clean, it's better never to touch it. Dust and oils will eventually damage the surface - so I use a puffer to blow off dust before screwing on the filter, and that's it.
This is excessively paranoid thinking and can pretty much be discounted as such.
10-17-2011, 05:20 AM   #10
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I always use a good quality filter for protection purposes. Maybe it does degrade the image quality slightly, but not that I have noticed and surely a lot less then a scratched or chipped lens. It may be argued that it is not worth the cost on a cheap kit lens. Certainly on my fixed lens Fuji X100 I would never consider not having a filter - damaged lens = scrap camera.
10-17-2011, 06:31 AM   #11
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All the folks that worry about the detriment to IQ - can they look at an image an tell if a UV filter was used? Almost certainly not. One might hazard a guess where there is lots of lens flare, but beyond that?
10-17-2011, 06:50 AM   #12
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so what most of you guys are saying that the main purpose of the filters is just to protect the lens and doesn't really benefit the picture quality?

I'm new and I herd that using a polarizer filter is much better than using a UV filter. I hope some veteran could explain what a circular polarizing filter actually do.
10-17-2011, 06:55 AM   #13
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I'd say don't waste the money on a UV filter: buy a (circular) polarizer, and if you have cash to spare and expect to be taking photos out doors at dawn or sunset, a graduated neutral density filter. Enjoy your camera and lens!


QuoteOriginally posted by awesomeasianman Quote
so what most of you guys are saying that the main purpose of the filters is just to protect the lens and doesn't really benefit the picture quality?

I'm new and I herd that using a polarizer filter is much better than using a UV filter. I hope some veteran could explain what a circular polarizing filter actually do.
10-17-2011, 07:27 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by awesomeasianman Quote
I'm new and I herd that using a polarizer filter is much better than using a UV filter. I hope some veteran could explain what a circular polarizing filter actually do.
I'm fairly new to this stuff too, but I'll take a stab here. A circular polarizer is more useful in photography than a UV filter because it does have a noticeable effect, it's not a placebo. What a CPL will do is cut down on reflections from non-metallic objects, giving better colour saturation, less haziness to skies, and reducing the glare or reflection on windows.

If you want more information than that on *how* the filters work, there's a relevant wiki article that is enough to make me cringe.

It's definitely worth having one, or a couple if you have lenses of different thread diameters.

I mentioned this link in another thread awhile back, but this is the kind of ghosting you risk with unnecessary filters on your lens. If one does use UV filters, take them off around bright lights.
10-17-2011, 07:36 AM   #15
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In addition to a lens cap, a good ridgid lens hood is the best thing for protecting the front glass of your lenses. It also reduces flare and improves image quality. They come with most lenses these days. Use it. Skip the UV filter. About the only filter you need is a circular polarizer and perhaps a neutral density filter if you want to photograph with a large aperture (shallow depth of field) in bright light.
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