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11-08-2012, 08:00 PM   #1
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Lens filter a good idea?

Is it a good idea to keep a UV lens filter on at all times to protect the lens? I was told that I should do that.

11-08-2012, 08:11 PM   #2
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Person Selling Filters: You should buy a filter. It is a good idea to keep a UV lens filter on at all times to protect the lens.
Buyer: Here, take my money.

I don't ever use them.
11-08-2012, 08:21 PM   #3
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I use them for protection of the front element of my lenses. I mainly worry about my DA* 55 and DA* 50-135 so I use filters on those, but make sure you buy a high-quality one (B+W, for example) because most cheaper brands will actually degrade your image quality. For the kit lens and lenses with the front element recessed pretty far back (like A 50 2.8 macro), I don't bother with filters; I just use caps when they're in my bag so they don't get scratched up.
11-08-2012, 08:25 PM   #4
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I say use a protective filter if you wear a helmet to protect your head, which is more valuable.

Always use a lens hood. Use a lens cap when not actively shooting. Use some common sense when handling your lens. Use a filter if it serves a purpose - sensors are not susceptible to UV rays.

11-08-2012, 08:26 PM   #5
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Do a search and you'll find at least 100 previous threads on the subject, plus web articles. Some people are convinced the small degree of protection they offer is worth the image degradation. Others just try to be careful.
11-08-2012, 09:16 PM   #6
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I only put filters on lenses that can't be repaired or purchased new, such as FA*'s. Hoya filters are generally the way to go as most agree that they're pretty high quality.

The rest of my glass is filterless for the best IQ

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11-08-2012, 09:35 PM - 1 Like   #7
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There are times when a UV filter is a good thing. Like when you're hiking at a high altitude or taking pics at the beach or in the snow. It does cut some of the bad reflective light from white surfaces and when you are somewhere up high. It can also help with sand and grit when the wind is blowing but you must be using a good one, not a crap one, and it does mean adjusting your exposure et all a bit to compensate.

Think of a UV filter as a light pair of sunglasses for your camera. Sometimes it does help to have sun glasses on in the brightest light or when stray light is bouncing around all over the place, but sometimes having shades on can get in your way of seeing well too. You'd maybe take off the shades when you walk a bit more into shade, no? A polarizer that's just like using polarized sunglasses on the water or around snow. There you need that to cut the glare, but you don't really need them on an overcast day.

But no, you don't need to leave one all the time. That's just a sales person trying to sell you a filter. There are legit uses for one though and I do keep one in my bag along with my polarizer. Where I live actually there is a lot of reflected glare. You don't go out the door sans sunglasses for long if you don't want to end up frying your eyes. Sunscreen is kind of mandatory too. Using a lens hood/UV/polarizer combo can actually be quite necessary at times.

I live in the tropics. Too much UV can be hard on me and my eyes. I'm thinking maybe a bit eventually on lens coatings too maybe. My very dark coated sunglasses tend to actually fade in a year or so actually just from me being outside a little. So it makes sense to me that my lens coatings might too eventually. It really depends upon your location I think. But most places, no, it's not necessary, not unless you happen to shoot mostly at the beach or up a snowy mountain and rather constantly besides....

I don't believe UV filters are just useless though. I've seen the effects of long term UV exposure on my glasses coatings and it really made me think about my lenses and UV. If my sunglasses can go from ultimate dark to pale gray in a year just going in and out of stores and such and shooting only randomly outside then maybe a UV filter on the lens part of the time isn't such a silly idea. The UV stuff on my car windows, same thing. I had to have it darkened again this year but like I said, tropics, more near the equator, blah, blah.

I can get fried in 10 mins standing outside sans my hat and sunscreen but likely my lenses are a bit less likely to damage than redheaded, fair skinned, little me...I do wonder sometimes though, seeing the sunglasses and how they fade. Some UV exposure is necessary though for lenses. Keeps the fungus critters away....

Last edited by magkelly; 11-08-2012 at 09:47 PM.
11-08-2012, 11:30 PM   #8
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It doesn't need to be a UV filter. If you have occasions when the front element might be at risk (I have 3 grandkids under 4) you can purchase high-quality clear protection filters. No color or light adjustments at all, just protection.

If you decide to buy any filters, spend the money for high quality, multi-coated glass filters. The cheapies are worse than useless.

11-09-2012, 06:49 AM   #9
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In my film days, a UV filter actually did something. My digital was manufactured with a UV filter over the sensor and adding another UV filter in front of the lens doesn't do much if anything other than add another optical surface to degrade my image.

I do have quality UV filters to fit each of my lens and I will use them for protection in very dirty environments with blowing dust or sand or splashes. I always cap my lens unless I am actively shooting or specifically waiting for a shot. My lens hoods provide as good or better protection against any form of impact trauma and they improve rather than degrade my images.

There is at least one thread on Pentax Forums showing side by side the difference in image quality (IQ) using a cheap UV filter, a very good UV filter and no filter. In every case, the best image was achieved with no filter.
11-09-2012, 09:32 AM   #10
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I would only use a UV filter in those situations where something could be reasonably expected to impact the front element of the lens, e.g. the mist around a very large waterfall, sea spray, blowing sand, a ton of dust etc. Otherwise no, I don't use them.
11-09-2012, 09:41 AM   #11
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No, unless you are in a harsh environment like sea spray, dust storm, etc.Use a hood at all times, preferably a metal one, so accidental hits don't make it to the front element; it will also improve the image quality.

If you still feel that you need protection for your investment, you can always get insurance.
11-09-2012, 09:46 AM   #12
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Yes ! It is certainly a good Idea to protect that front element Filters can degrade images though, so it is important you use decent filters. I find the hoya Pro give the best value high spec filters. As long as you use a high grade filter then degradation still exists but it is tiny. There is more to filters than a lot of people think. The guy in the shop might tell you they all do the same job. This is not true. While a high class filter will have little effect, a cheap one can seriously degrade an image. The better ones like Hoya Pro and BW use thinner glass than standard filters. As has already been mentioned this reduces the amount extra optical surface. The better filters also have better multi coatings to help combat flare etc. It is far far cheaper to replace a filter than it is a lens.
11-09-2012, 11:37 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by magkelly Quote
There are times when a UV filter is a good thing. Like when you're hiking at a high altitude or taking pics at the beach or in the snow. It does cut some of the bad reflective light from white surfaces and when you are somewhere up high. It can also help with sand and grit when the wind is blowing but you must be using a good one, not a crap one, and it does mean adjusting your exposure et all a bit to compensate.

Think of a UV filter as a light pair of sunglasses for your camera. Sometimes it does help to have sun glasses on in the brightest light or when stray light is bouncing around all over the place, but sometimes having shades on can get in your way of seeing well too. You'd maybe take off the shades when you walk a bit more into shade, no? A polarizer that's just like using polarized sunglasses on the water or around snow. There you need that to cut the glare, but you don't really need them on an overcast day.

But no, you don't need to leave one all the time. That's just a sales person trying to sell you a filter. There are legit uses for one though and I do keep one in my bag along with my polarizer. Where I live actually there is a lot of reflected glare. You don't go out the door sans sunglasses for long if you don't want to end up frying your eyes. Sunscreen is kind of mandatory too. Using a lens hood/UV/polarizer combo can actually be quite necessary at times.

I live in the tropics. Too much UV can be hard on me and my eyes. I'm thinking maybe a bit eventually on lens coatings too maybe. My very dark coated sunglasses tend to actually fade in a year or so actually just from me being outside a little. So it makes sense to me that my lens coatings might too eventually. It really depends upon your location I think. But most places, no, it's not necessary, not unless you happen to shoot mostly at the beach or up a snowy mountain and rather constantly besides....



I don't believe UV filters are just useless though. I've seen the effects of long term UV exposure on my glasses coatings and it really made me think about my lenses and UV. If my sunglasses can go from ultimate dark to pale gray in a year just going in and out of stores and such and shooting only randomly outside then maybe a UV filter on the lens part of the time isn't such a silly idea. The UV stuff on my car windows, same thing. I had to have it darkened again this year but like I said, tropics, more near the equator, blah, blah.

I can get fried in 10 mins standing outside sans my hat and sunscreen but likely my lenses are a bit less likely to damage than redheaded, fair skinned, little me...I do wonder sometimes though, seeing the sunglasses and how they fade. Some UV exposure is necessary though for lenses. Keeps the fungus critters away....
Your glasses are probably polycarbonate. As a plastic they will deteriorate after long exposure to intense UV. I live at 4600' and routinely go above 10,000' and get a heck more exposure than you do at sea level. My sunglasses are made of real glass and haven't changed tint in seven years while my lightweight prescriptions have turned yellow and no longer turn dark after two. Just bought a new pair. Oh ya, my truck has the metalized evaporative coating window tint. About 3x the cost of the regular plastic but gauranteed for life. The have been on for 6 years with no fading.
11-09-2012, 01:03 PM   #14
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Thanks for the feedback. I think I will wait until I encounter situations where i need a filter and then spend wisely. If I am careful I shouldn't need one all the time.
11-10-2012, 06:29 AM   #15
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You've had good advice. I would add that as I have bought many old cameras and lenses the last few years, the lenses that have had filters in place over time are generally in better shape. Possibly just because people who put them on tend to care for their equipment better? Anyway, older lenses used softer lens coatings, and "cleaning" damage is common if they haven't had a filter. Today's coatings are very rugged.
Protection from fingerprints and such is still the main reason to use a UVa, but using a lens hood instead is more beneficial.
Cheap filters do degrade the image by adding reflections.
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