A case for using UV Filters

Discussion in 'Photography Equipment & Products' started by soylentgreen, Aug 3, 2008.

  1. soylentgreen

    soylentgreen TPF Noob!

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    It has been debated in the past whether using a UV Protective filter on your lenses is a good idea. If it actually improves image quality or adversely effects it is also a point of debate. I for one had used them in the past full-time on my lenses but have experimented with them on and off to check IQ. I have not seen any noticeable difference with or without.
    Last night, my camera bag slipped from my hand and dropped to the asphalt. Slight thud and scrape, nothing to worry about. I thought nothing of it since the drop was like 18" at most. I have a Kata H-12 Sling bag and it is built like a tank. Dropped it before with no problems. Went to do a birthday party today and removed the lens cap from my 24-105 f/4L IS only to see shattered glass. Needless to say my heart skipped a beat. a loud, WTF was more like it. At first i thought the lens was toast because I had removed the filters off all of my lenses a few weeks back. A closer look revealed a filter ring on the lens. Sigh of relief to say the least. After carefully removing all of the shards, the lens was intact. As light of a drop as I thought it was, the protective UV filter did the job and absorbed what force there was in the drop and saved the lens. Not sure if it was designed for that, more dust and debris i suppose, but thank goodness I had it on. Granted it was a $80 Hoya Pro1 filter, better than the repair bill of a few hundred and loss time with the lens. Gonna run more test with the focus chart to make sure everything is kosher, but one thing is for sure...filters are going back on. Just thought I would share this experience for anyone who might be on the fence regarding the use of filters.
     
  2. Bifurcator

    Bifurcator TPF Noob!

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    So this is pro filter use thinking that your lens would break if the filter weren't present?

    Or against filter use for having to pick out the shards and the damage shards could potentially do to an expensive lens, the coating, and the other equipment in the bag?
     
  3. usayit

    usayit No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I use high quality filters for protection because of

    one) I can't easily afford to replace the lenses I enjoy.
    two) I don't want to worry about lens caps during my shoots
    three) I don't want to worry about cleaning marks when I quickly wipe away accumulated dirt.

    I know its been debated... but I've never had any issues using filters. Flare could be a problem but I can quickly remove the filter or add a hood to accommodate.
     
  4. tirediron

    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Glad your lens is okay, however, in this case I'm not sure that you can say because the filter was broken your lens would have been without it. I suspect that the reason the filter broke was because it was on the very end, and the actual glass took the hit. Most lenses have the first element recenssed in to some degree, and, as well, the glass in the front lens element is going to be a LOT heavier than your filter, regardless of how good it was. All that aside, I always have either a UV, or clear-glass "filter" on the end of all of my lenses. I've done my own experiments, and can detect no apprciable difference to the image with or without (using good-quality filters of course), therefore, 'with' my lenses stay.
     
  5. Joves

    Joves No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I use clear filters for prtection. Im not a fan of UVs myself. For filtering I like my circular polarizers though.
     
  6. Garbz

    Garbz No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    The problem with filters is rarely debated. It's argued quite often and that argument ceases when test photos like the ones I've posted many times get linked to and people realise that for a given cost of filter there is only a tiny ghosting effect, no flare, and no image quality loss. I like the one about the "it's an extra piece of glass". Those people should buy only the cheap lenses because clearly the goldring and L series lenses with their many elements are much worse.

    What is hotly debated is how much some people care about their equipment, or rather how much they care about having to foot the bill to replace a front element. Quite a few of the profilter group here seem to be profilter because of near misses or actual damage, and I'm glad the common sense approach prevails.
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2008
  7. Bifurcator

    Bifurcator TPF Noob!

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    ??? I arrived at just the opposite conclusion as a result of your most excellent post. I looked and saw extra ghosting, extra flares, and extra unwanted artifacts in every shot except the one of the rocks where the sun was behind and to the left of you.

    I'm officially confused now.


    Huge different between an internal lens inside a light-proof tube with only one opening for accepting light at front and a flat piece of glass at the tippy-tip end of the barrel where it's exposed to every reflection and light-source in a 179 degree hemisphere. I agree with the people that say "it's an extra piece of glass" but I guess they should say "it's an extra piece of unwanted glass because it's in the worst place possible"


    Hehe, nice one! But I'm not buying the logic. At all really. The first piece of advice I ever got from a cameraman (sports illustrated) who worked for a lens manufacturer (I forget who) and owned a large camera shop located in down-town Salt Lake City Utah, was.. well, let's see if I can try and quote him from almost 40 years ago in discussion:


    Him: you should buy a filter (some filter being discussed) it'll cut out these unwanted effects (points an area on one of my photos with blueish muddy looking shadows) and besides it'll protect the lens.

    Me: So I need a filter to protect the lens? Yeah I guess if something smashed into it...

    Him: (cutting me off sharply) No-no-no, it won't protect from smashes. In fact if a lens gets hit hard enough to break a filter it would probably be safer not to have the filter on as the broken glass would scratch the hell out of it... It's just for fingerprints, dust, and stuff.

    Me: Oh I thought [can't recall the rest of my sentence here but it was about the severity of hit that would cause a ding in the front element]

    Him: Heaven's no, if it got hit that hard you would probably have to replace both the lens and the camera and a little filter isn't going to do anything in a case like that.​


    [that's pretty close given the number of years that have passed. I wonder if he can even remember having the conversation?]

    In 50 years of owning cameras I have broken one lens (accidentally). It was a filter I dropped on the asphalt. I've broken several filters on purpose as well and they shatter into tiny pieces. My guess is that guy was right. I've gone for long periods of going both ways; with and without filters. In all those years I've never seen a filter save a lens but I have had many shots ruined by having them on. And a few interesting shots by having them on too. ;)

    I actually tried to use the sun across a "daylight" filter to fog this image. I removed some of this filter-fog in PS but what's left I think kinda makes the shot:



    [​IMG]



    Without the filter on there would be no chance for fogging like that. In this case I wanted it but what if I hadn't?
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2008
  8. Bifurcator

    Bifurcator TPF Noob!

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    BTW, just so you know, I don't think it's a very big deal either way. It is kinda interesting to talk about though.
     
  9. usayit

    usayit No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    The cause of your confusion is that there are so many variables involved for such a test and the source (internet) is such a crap shoot of information. People are not willing to put in the effort for a real test in a very strictly controlled environment. As such you'll get person A that says... look at this pic and see the flare. Another will post another series of pics in a completely different situation and say... See no flare or ghosting. Remember, the lens itself, hood, type of light, intensity of light, the filter, quality of filter..etc all play a part.

    I've done my own tests using my own lenses and filters. I see no significant difference that outweigh the practicality of having filters for protection. I shoot primarily with prime lenses and I do switch lenses often. I wear a belt with individual satchels for each lens or a shoulder bag with compartments dedicated to a particular lens. I don't want to be bothered with rear or front lens caps. I don't want to worry about a tiny bit of grim on a lens cloth to introduce cleaning marks to the front element. I used the worry and get pissed off using caps... then I observed a street shooter/journalist which caused me to ask "why am I killing myself trying to juggle caps". In fact, I almost dropped a lens because I was juggling a #*$&^# cap.

    Now I would post my test photos but as mentioned, it would be virtually worthless to anyone else who isn't shooting with the same filters and lenses that I have... there for a waste of time.

    Filters not saving a lens? Oh yeh.. I can count dozens of times... personally. Maybe not from flat out drops but definitely from things that can easily nick the front element. I deal in a lot of used equipment.... I see dozens of well used lenses of various types. A LOT of them have scratches and cleaning marks and could have been protected by a filter.

    As i said... filter or not to filter (for protection) is a very personal decision. A studio photographer in such a "nice" environment wouldn't use one. A war journalist probably find one absolutely necessary. Also depends on the cost of personal investment. I have a few inexpensive voigtlanders that cost $200 or so... I don't filter them. I have a single lens with an estimated price of $5000... a $100+ dollar filter seems like a small investment for protection.

    Also... it takes a few moments to remove a filter. So again.. no problem.



    When I was a student lab rat, I was so very scared of breaking some expensive equipment. My mentor once said, "don't worry.. if you don't break something during your time here, you are not working hard enough". I think that applies to this discussion as well.
     
  10. pm63

    pm63 TPF Noob!

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    I agree 100%. I put a UV filter on for protection, and many of the 'experienced' people say that it degrades image quality blah blah, but I have done test shots with and without, and have studied them at 100%. I saw NO degradation whatsoever (this isn't even Hoya's Pro1 line, only their Both Sides Coated line!), and where there is added flare e.g. when shooting into a light source, I take it off. I also take it off for tripod work.

    I am a student, and simply cannot afford even to replace my cheap 18-55 kit lens at the moment. Equipment functioning > unnoticable degradation in image quality.
     
  11. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    This thread shows why personal testing is so important. Using very similar equipment in very similar situations different photogs get different results.

    Personally I've gone commando, errr... filterless for over a decade now. ;) At least when it comes to UV or clear as a protective measure. It makes complete sense to me, and when I worked in a camera store we saw several bashed filters or lenses a week, but for the last 15+ years there has been as camera in my hand every single day, and I've never bashed one myself (at least in a manner where a filter would have protected it).

    I did my own testing, and decided that I was more likely to miss flare in the viewfinder than I was to bash my lens. This was back in the film only days so if I missed the flare in the viewfinder it might be weeks before I found out. When I began using digital it seemed like lens flare, CA, etc... was more of a problem so I've continued to go UV filterless. I'm a big fan of the pol filter though.
     
  12. freelunch

    freelunch TPF Noob!

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    Skylight? UV Haze? We used to call 'em "scratch filters".
     

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