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11-22-2009, 09:26 PM   #1
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Protective Filters - Needed or Not

So far I have been on the side of putting a protective UV or Skylight filter on my lenses. More and more I read I might actually be degrading photo quality. So where do people stand on protective filters? Am I paranoid or am I doing the right things?

11-22-2009, 09:59 PM   #2
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A very widely discussed and debated issue.
Comes down to personal preference.
Filters are never *needed* for protection, only for special effects, like polarising the incident light or adding a star effect.
I have them to avoid having my lenses soiled by fingertips or stray waterdrops, which may affect the coating on the front element. Otherwise, I'd be fine to do away with them.

Which brings to the issue of which one to buy, if you've decided that's the way you're going.
Answer is: the best you can afford. All filters degrade IQ, but the multicoated ones less so. So Hoya's Super HMC or even just regular HMC filters are excellent in this regard. Then you have the B+W MRC F-Pro filters are top notch and are well built. The Hoya Pro1 series are thinner, not necessarily better and much more expensive.

See here:
https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-slr-lens-discussion/78214-best-fil...uch-thing.html
https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/camera-studio-accessories/4148-experience...l-filters.html
http://photo.net/equipment/filters/

Hope this helps.

Last edited by Ash; 11-24-2009 at 12:41 PM.
11-22-2009, 10:02 PM   #3
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From another recent thread:

" L'il bitty shower caps!
You wanna protect a lens from contamination in the field? You recall those little plastic covers that look like shower caps for squirrels that your momma used to use to cover leftovers in the reefer?

They store in your pocket when you're shooting and I've never lost one ('cause they're so cheap, I suppose).

And as a side benefit, when I was tempted to photograph an ill-tempered child slipping one on each ear provided enough distraction that I escaped unharmed.

However, most of my user lenses DO sport filter RINGS. Some are labeled UV, some red, some purple with polka dots. Makes no difference 'cause there's NO glass in those rings! They come from the cheapest filters I can find and never cause optical problems. What they do is provide a 2-4mm shade/hood that takes all the dents and dings that otherwise effect the lens threads.

Serious protection comes from real lens caps.

Filter effects come from quality filters as needed.

H2
11-22-2009, 11:09 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Pentastic Quote
So far I have been on the side of putting a protective UV or Skylight filter on my lenses. More and more I read I might actually be degrading photo quality. So where do people stand on protective filters? Am I paranoid or am I doing the right things?
It's ...not necessarily a huge deal, really. If you're concerned about the best quality, use a protective filter that is at least as good as your lens. I usually consider them unnecessary, unless it's really crappy out or something (Or with like kids and dogs, who might want to touch or lick the lens, respectively: this way you can take em off and keep shooting. )

I prefer to use deep, rigid hoods that live deployed on the lens all the time: this is generally sufficient protection for anything that isn't a wide. I'll put UV's on, generally, only lenses I consider particularly vulnerable or expect to turn around and sell. (just cause blemishes aren't appealing to the next one to be considering them.)

Basically, I wouldn't worry too much, use a good one if it gives ou peace of mind, (If I lived around more stuff like blowing sand and the like, I might well be more inclined to use them more. )

11-22-2009, 11:28 PM   #5
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definately not needed, its personal preference..

All I will say is if you use them use top quality ones.. lenstip.com (under articles) has a good comparison/test for UV and CPL filters..
11-23-2009, 12:15 AM   #6
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For the added peace of mind they give you, a filter as protection is totally worthwhile given that the degradation of image quality is barely noticeable. (Ask yourself this - why are you worrying about it when you never noticed any IQ loss yourself all these years?)

The filter serves to keep dirt and fingerprints off your lens, which means the front lens element needs to be cleaned (removing a tiny amount of coatings each time) less often. It also makes degradation of the lens coatings from the elements or a fingerprint you missed cleaning off straight away less likely.

And for all that everybody here says they provide no extra protection, I've seen with my own eyes a filter that was shattered in an accidental knock, rather than the lens element it was over doing so. Had the filter not been there, there's every chance the lens element could've borne the brunt. That cheap little piece of glass in the filter won't make you cry when you have to replace it after a chip, knock or scratch. Replacing your entire lens would be a different matter.

It really isn't worth obsessing over the tiny IQ loss the filter brings. Give yourself the peace of mind, buy a reasonable quality filter for each lens and leave it on there. That's my two cents.

Last edited by knoxploration; 11-23-2009 at 12:17 AM. Reason: fix typos, add a little more
11-23-2009, 11:49 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by knoxploration Quote
(Ask yourself this - why are you worrying about it when you never noticed any IQ loss yourself all these years?)
You can't notice the loss until you actual do an actual comparison. Or a series of them in different conditions. In my experience, there are indeed some situations where you won't notice a difference no matter how hard you look. But there are also other cases - especially cases where there is danger of flare - the difference is etremely obvious even at a casual glance.

QuoteQuote:
And for all that everybody here says they provide no extra protection, I've seen with my own eyes a filter that was shattered in an accidental knock, rather than the lens element it was over doing so.
I've seen this, too. No one ever said they provide *no* protection - just that the *amount* of protection isn't as great as some imagine. There are lots of things that can destroy a lens that will destroy it with or without filter. Also, I've never seen damage of the type described above happen to a lens with a hood - and hoods actually *improve* optical quality.

Anyhow, sure, it's a recurring debate. Some people wear surgical masks on buses; some people will only fly in the rear seats of airplanes because they have read there is a statistically higher probability of surviving a crash if you're in the rear. And yet, "most" of the people who don't do these things have not died of H1N1 or plane crashes. YMMV.

QuoteQuote:
Give yourself the peace of mind
Agreed, but filters aren't the only or even the best way to do that. Filters can only protect a lens against a tiny percentage of the risks it is exposed to (dropping into a lake? theft?), and have also been shown to have *caused* damage in some cases. If you want *real* peace of mind, insure your gear - which will protect against *all* risk, *never* causes damage, *never* degrades IQ, and is usually cheaper than putting filters on all your lenses.

But sure, if the small amount of protection provided by a filter is worth the cost to you (in dollars and IQ), then by all means, do that too.
11-23-2009, 01:09 PM   #8
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To add to Marc's excellent comments, the "filter for protection" debate has been going on for longer than I suspect Marc has been alive. I was on the filter side of the debate in 1961, somewhere along the way I changed my politics to the "no protection filters" side of the debate. I cannot say that I will never put one on for protection in the future.

11-23-2009, 09:02 PM   #9
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I never bought into filters when I started 2 years ago simply because I couldn't afford them. The cost can really start to add up after outfitting a few lenses.

Free ways you can protect your lenses:
1. Lense hood
2. Neck/wrist strap
3. Reasonable safety during lense changes

The biggest chances for lenses to get damaged is during a lense change. If a hunk of metal, plastic, and glass is dropped from more than 3ft, the front element is only a small part of your worries.
11-24-2009, 09:51 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Gr8erimage Quote
I never bought into filters when I started 2 years ago simply because I couldn't afford them. The cost can really start to add up after outfitting a few lenses.

Free ways you can protect your lenses:
1. Lense hood
2. Neck/wrist strap
3. Reasonable safety during lense changes

The biggest chances for lenses to get damaged is during a lense change. If a hunk of metal, plastic, and glass is dropped from more than 3ft, the front element is only a small part of your worries.
Depends on where and under what circumstances you are shooting. Shooting from the sidelines of a football game in nice weather... no protective filters needed. Shooting from the same sideline when it is mucky or dusty and you want the protection. I'd rather replace a filter than a thousand dollar lens. Same goes for shooting in any extreme environment.

My philosophy... have a filter handy but don't use it unless the lens in in danger.

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11-24-2009, 09:57 AM   #11
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There is a current article at shutterbug .com covering this issue. I think the gereral consensus is that while these filters have their uses, they don't need to be permanently attached to your lens. I used them for years out of habit. I no longer leave them on the lens.
Shutterbug: Buying Smart
11-24-2009, 10:15 AM   #12
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Yeah, actually, I'm considering buying a 49mm filter just for use when I visit my parents in Florida and shoot at the beach - it's the only time I felt bad for my unprotected lens (not that anything was damaged). I figure I'll just buy one good one and stick it on whichever lens I'm using - I try to avoid changing lenses much in those conditions anyhow.
11-24-2009, 02:20 PM   #13
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A protective filter even under ideal conditions (optically flawless), is another element to decrease the amount of light striking the sensor, if not degrade the image. I think carrying a microfiber cloth and some lens solution and having the discipline to clean lenses after shooting in a difficult environment will do more for you than a filter.

Of course, this precludes the cases where you will be exposing it to physical damage, say worried about stray branches striking the lens while bushwacking, or in the middle of a sandstorm.
11-24-2009, 06:28 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by libbyh Quote
I think carrying a microfiber cloth and some lens solution and having the discipline to clean lenses after shooting in a difficult environment will do more for you than a filter.
I do have concerns about cleaning too often to be honest, I imagine the coating would wear down over time..

to OP.. I did say above they are not *needed* and thats true I think but I do admit I use them on some lenses, especially if the front element is very exposed like the 50/1.4 for example.. But my Voigtlander SL90 doesn't have one as the front element is quiet deep and well protected. The FA31 I can just use 2 filter rings without glass in them and build up a slightly better hood for APS-C, protect the front element and still use the original cap..
11-24-2009, 07:52 PM   #15
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FYI:

This is the best laboratory test of UV/protective filters I've seen. It's 2 years old but that's OK.

UV filters test - Description of the results and summary - Lenstip.com

The top 3 results were:

1 Hoya 72 mm HMC UV-0
Hoya 72 mm Pro1 Digital MC UV-0
2 Hoya 72 mm HMC Super UV-0

The Hoya HMC UV-0 filters are also amongst the cheapest filters, which is nice to see. I just ordered a couple.
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