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06-02-2008, 07:24 PM   #1
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UV filters: Good or bad?

New member here. I'm 23, relatively new to photography (started it as a hobby a year ago) and still feeling my way through some of the technical stuff. My photography can be viewed here. I have a Pentax K100D with the kit lens, a Tamron 70-300mm, and a 50mm f/1.4 on the way (just ordered it on Friday).

This is a question that just occured to me last night. When I bought my camera, along with the telephoto lens, the guys at the camera shop sold me two heliopan UV filters (for both lenses) and basically told me they're a standard, must-have for all lenses. I got the impression you're supposed to use them all the time, in all conditions. So that's exactly what I've been doing, those two UV filters have never left either of my lenses. But I started wondering, how many photographers really do use UV filters on all their lenses? Especially those who have vast lens collections of varying sizes? And to be honest, I'm not even really sure what these filters do. And I don't see them discussed to much on forums like this.

I have been overall a little disappointed in the sharpness of my pictures. Could that be the filters inhibiting the quality of the shots at all? Should I get another UV filter for my new 50mm that's on the way, or should I save myself the time/money and go without it?

Or, on the flip side, if UV filters are a good, must-have thing, are there any other types of filters I should look into getting?

I would greatly appreciate any advice or insight into this. I am definitely listening, and here to learn. Thank you.

06-02-2008, 07:31 PM   #2
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Well, you'll see this argued both ways. It's much cheaper to replace a UV filter than the front element on a lens. However, it's another piece of glass for the light to pass through, so it has to affect the image quality. How much is dependant on the quality of the filter.

I only use one on my superzoom, and that after I noticed that I'd nicked the coating on the lens. Other than that, I don't use them. I really wouldn't use one on the 50mm as that's a really quality optic and I wouldn't want to mess with it. Of course, I'd hate to mess up the front element, too.

So....what do you do?

Oh, and if you're disappointed in the sharpness of your images, post a few here and ask for feedback. You'll find out whether it's you, the lens, the camera or (probably) a combination of all three.
06-02-2008, 07:46 PM   #3
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I usually have a filter on the lens. Except for night shots. Take the filter off, or you might get weird reflections.
06-02-2008, 07:55 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by rfortson Quote
Well, you'll see this argued both ways. It's much cheaper to replace a UV filter than the front element on a lens. However, it's another piece of glass for the light to pass through, so it has to affect the image quality. How much is dependant on the quality of the filter.

I only use one on my superzoom, and that after I noticed that I'd nicked the coating on the lens. Other than that, I don't use them. I really wouldn't use one on the 50mm as that's a really quality optic and I wouldn't want to mess with it. Of course, I'd hate to mess up the front element, too.

So....what do you do?

Oh, and if you're disappointed in the sharpness of your images, post a few here and ask for feedback. You'll find out whether it's you, the lens, the camera or (probably) a combination of all three.
Here's jut a few I felt could've/should've been sharper:

IMGP2394_800 on Flickr - Photo Sharing!
IMGP1402_800 on Flickr - Photo Sharing!
IMGP0850_800 on Flickr - Photo Sharing!
IMGP0871_800 on Flickr - Photo Sharing!
IMGP2389_800 on Flickr - Photo Sharing!

If not familiar with Flickr, you can click the "All Sizes" button above each picture to view a larger version. In the lower right corner of the page you can click "More Properties" to view all the settings that were used when the shot was taken.

06-02-2008, 07:56 PM   #5
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Zeroset, welcome to the Forums!

You'll find all shades of opinions on this issue. I favor UV filter use and find that the Hoya S-HMC ones that I've used for years don't appear to degrade image quality noticeably.

But there's one point I'd like to make in the ongoing debate over whether to keep 'em on or not: a UV filter is intended to block transmission of ultraviolet light (high frequency lightwaves just above human perception limits). Since solar radiation, even through cloud cover, contains such wavelengths, the UV filter helps camera meters and sensors/film do a better job of rendering the visible portion of light's spectrum outdoors.

If you shoot indoors, you're much less likely to be encountering light sources with lots of UV. Most modern window glass is treated to reduce UV transmission; most artificial light sources, other than "black lights" for trippy posters, don't emit much UV, IIRC. So, indoors, the UV filter doesn't serve its primary purpose. Since it might add to flare/reflections, you might as well go ahead and remove it, unless you want the front element protection and don't have a "clear protection" filter to use in its place.
06-02-2008, 08:30 PM   #6
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Don't we have Multi coated lenses for decades now to filter UV, and weren't UV filters used when we had single coated lenses?
And if protecting the lens is the only duty left for a filter, then i'd prefer the lens hood over the cheap filter i'd be buying.

Right?

Or are they all just anti reflection?

I heard both, but UV shooters looking for single coated lenses makes it seem sensical.
06-03-2008, 07:56 AM   #7
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Lens hood won't protect you against objects smaller than the hood.

I forgot to buy a UV filter for my DA 50-200 and had spots on the front element within a day despite being very careful (bug splats I think, I spent a day outdoors shooting an air show). Fortunately the spots cleaned off, but there are lots of ways an object can get past a protective hood but not past a UV filter.
06-03-2008, 08:41 AM   #8
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If you want a lens protector then use the lens cap.

If you want to take a photo, take it off.

Simple really

06-03-2008, 09:04 AM   #9
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I have Hoya HMC UV filters (actually made by Tokina) on all three of my "pancake" lenses but sometimes take them off. I've never seen any difference in sharpness, with or without. But I always keep them spotlessly clean and use lens hoods too. The only other filter I use is a polarizer, same brand.

Internal reflections ("ghosting") can occur with any lens or filter, especially if a bright light source is in your frame. Of the three "pancakes" I have, the 21mm seems to be the worst, even without a filter, but no worse than any other lens I've ever used. Exception is my old Nikon 28mm AIS lens. It's the only lens I've ever used that produces no "ghosting" whatsoever. Wish I could use it on my K10D.

Richard
06-03-2008, 09:13 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Old Timer 56 Quote
Exception is my old Nikon 28mm AIS lens. It's the only lens I've ever used that produces no "ghosting" whatsoever. Wish I could use it on my K10D.

Richard
Can't you? I don't own any Nikon lenses, but I thought they fit loosely.
06-03-2008, 09:15 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Entropy Quote
Lens hood won't protect you against objects smaller than the hood.

I forgot to buy a UV filter for my DA 50-200 and had spots on the front element within a day despite being very careful (bug splats I think, I spent a day outdoors shooting an air show). Fortunately the spots cleaned off, but there are lots of ways an object can get past a protective hood but not past a UV filter.
I might mount a filter if I plan to shoot in an environment where I'm concerned about my front element, but It's not something I'm just going to leave on there.

Filter users, do you also have one of those phone cases that the phone never comes out of? Oh, I hate those things. Same premise, really.
06-03-2008, 09:50 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by joefru Quote
Can't you? I don't own any Nikon lenses, but I thought they fit loosely.
I read that somewhere but don't remember the details. I'd be a bit afraid of damaging the mount on the camera body and "loose fit" would make me nervous. But I've thought of getting a Nikon D200 body. AIS lenses are compatible with that but I'm not sure I can justify the expense just to use a particular manual-focus lens. I do like the D200 though and I have other AIS lenses.

Richard
06-03-2008, 10:01 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by joefru Quote
I might mount a filter if I plan to shoot in an environment where I'm concerned about my front element, but It's not something I'm just going to leave on there.

Filter users, do you also have one of those phone cases that the phone never comes out of? Oh, I hate those things. Same premise, really.
Actually, yes, I do.
And now my phone works perfectly, while my wifes identical model (without the cover) is broken from being dropped too many times. Mine's been dropped less, certainly, but I think having the protection is worth it.
06-03-2008, 10:10 AM   #14
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Depends if you're rather clean the front lens element or a filter or are near any projectiles (e.g., rocks). I've heard of lenses being hit by pebbles while covering dirt bike racing...
06-03-2008, 11:36 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Jester_rm Quote
Actually, yes, I do.
And now my phone works perfectly, while my wifes identical model (without the cover) is broken from being dropped too many times. Mine's been dropped less, certainly, but I think having the protection is worth it.
It's a personal preference. I certainly think no less of you for being protective. I generally prefer to use my things as they were designed. No phone cases, no screen protectors, no plastic on the sofa, and no UV filters. Some people feel otherwise, and that's fine.
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