Skylight or UV filters for nature?

Discussion in 'Nature' started by sherard_cocks, Apr 19, 2002.

  1. Just curious which filter, Skylight/UV would better suit the needs of
    a nature photographer? And as a lens protector which one is suitable?
    I've heard many arguments on this matter?
  2. I've heard many arguments on this matter. I won't argue but I'll state my opinion. Whether your lens needs protection or not depends in part on the particular enviornment, the age of the lens, and the lens' manufacturer. In a sandstorm or in salt spray some protection may be a good idea, but if you leave a UV or Skylight filter on at all times you may notice increased flare or loss of contrast due to the added reflections caused by 2 additional air/glass surfaces.
    At least one high-end lens maker has been using extremely tough coatings for many years, and has also been using UV-absorbing cement between the glass elements. For these lenses only the harshest enviornmental conditions are a problem. I haven't used any protective or UV filters in over 20 years (in arctic, sub-tropical, alpine and desert conditions) and the glass of my lenses is still in perfect condition.
    If you do feel the need to use a UV or Skylight filter, use a good multi-coated one, not the cheap junk often pushed as part of a camera outfit. Funny, isn't it? An expensive lens that you'd be afraid of damaging doesn't need protection and filters the UV itself, while a cheap lens that you're less likely to worry about is more likely to need an expensive filter to protect it from damage.
  3. I think the poster's question is: what is the difference betweeen skylight and UV filter, rather than when to use which or neither.

    The difference betwen shylight and UV filter is zero in my book. Two names for the same use, if not the same thing, but I may be corrected.
  4. Skylights are generally slightly warmer than UV/haze filters, but the color shifts are quite small compared to say, an 81A warming filter, and vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. Either will work fine as a protection filter, though buying multicoated filters is a good idea unless you like lens flare.
    See for some exaggerated examples and also the FAQ section at the same website.
  5. Either one works for protection. Neither really does much otherwise. For warming, go with an 81A or 81B. There's not much need to filter UV light in normal photography. There are specialized UV filters if you really must filter UV light. I'm not much of a believer in multi-coated filters--I prefer to remove the filter when flare is a threat.
  6. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Moderator

    I think Skylight filters are a tiny bit warmer (reddish) than VU filters, but it probably won't make any noticable differences. In other words, practically it doesn't matter.
  7. The effect of a UV filter won't be noticed until you start shooting at high altitudes....say 7,000 - 8,000 feet and up. Most UV is already filtered out at low elevations. Up high, it will cut down on bluish cast. But then, you most likely would want an 81A anyway. Skylight filters are a very tiny bit pink.

    Either one serves as a lens protector. Flare shouldn't be an issue with a good multi-coated filter, but I'd take it off when shooting backlit subjects anyway. A better lens protector is a hard lens hood.
  8. Skylight 1A filters will do more in haze than a 1X. 1A filter characteristics differ more between manufacturers. If your going to take pictures through it, spend the money for the better brands.
  9. Any decent filter will protect the lens, but you need a decent filter.

    Recently my sister returned, via UPS, an old FT with a 50/1.4 on it. The UV filter was on old Nikon one.

    Well she packed it wrong. OWTCH! So the filter got nailed. I mean HARD! It was really hit.

    One noticable thing was that the brass holding the glass onto the filter had bent and twisted. Absorbing a lot of the blow and shearing away from the harder steel of the lens. So the threads on the lens were fine. A plastic UV filter, or a very cheap one would not have done this IMNSHO. It would have just shattered and possibly caused some harm.

    Just something to consider when buying a $9.00 vs a $20.00 UV filter.
  10. I have one of each and have used them both but only for
    protection. Most of my photographs are on tripod, composed
    over several minutes, often waiting for sunlight to be reasonable,
    and other things – then, just before making the picture I remove
    the filter or replace it with polarizer or warming filter or ND. Then
    I replace UV/Skylight and press on. John.
  11. Thanks for the answers!
  12. On a related tangent, which protective cover will give my couch a more natural appearence, pvc, or latex? The logic of putting a filter on your camera to protect the lens is about the same as putting a plastic cover on your sofa. If you plan to take the filter off when you use the lens, its no more than a lens cap. If you leave it on, it has to cost you image quality (exactly how much is open to debate.) It appears the practice of using skylight filters came about as a way for discount camera sellers to get some profit margin back when they sold you a lens at a very low price.
  13. I'll argue that.

    There are many cases where a UV filter can save a lens. Granted, if doing macro or tripod work, there might be merit in removing it.


    Many times I HAVE to walk around with my lens cap off. I feel better having the ability to shoot in a matter of seconds, and not having to worry about my lens. And there is a lot out there that can hurt a lens. Smoke, various aerosols, flying liquids of various types, etc.
  14. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Moderator

    Years ago, once I was changing lenses with one lens in each hand. A friend accidentally bumped into my elbow, and I dropped one of the lenses on concrete. The metal lens cap and metal UV filter saved the lens, which had no damage at all, but I had to go to the camera dealer to have the damaged (and deformed) filter removed by a technician.

    If you use a good UV or Skylight filter, it shouldn't degrade your image quality in any noticable way. In those occasions when I don't want a filter to have any possible effects on my image quality, such as flare due to sun inside the frame, for example, I remove the UV filter for those exposures. In those occasoins, I also tend to use a fixed 24mm (prime) or a 200mm macro rather than a 17-35mm or a 80-200mm zoom, which have far more elements and are prone to flare.
  15. For me, there is a tremendous difference between a UV and a Skylight 1A. I use the UV as a protection filter and at high altitudes. The main reason I see a big difference is that it snows here 6 months out of the year (snowed 4 inches last night again), and the skylight filter will give me pink snow! I won't take one if you gave it to me. Also, the UV filter does a better job at higher altitudes (like I sometimes shoot in) and helps with b&w film a bit (which is more UV sensitive.)

    Kent in SD
  16. My understanding is that the "protection" gained by a clear screw-in filter is of a slightly different order than some of the catastrophes described here. It protects your lens front element from everyday dirt and dust, and from accidental finger marks. If the camera is lightly dinged against a wall or other structure, it protects the lens front threads from damage. Both of these things can be achieved with a lens cap of course, but the clear filter has the advantage that you don't have to take it off if you want to shoot a quick picture.
  17. Lens caps for for storage, not for field use. I never use a lens cap unless the lens is in the bag. That's why I use protective filters. And I do remove them from time to time when the circumstances warrant it. I haven't noticed any significant image degradation due to filters.

    May you never experience the agony of watching your lens hit front element first on pavement, on a tile floor or bury itself halfway in Utah desert sand. In each case, and in others, a UV filter prevented damage to the front lens element.
  18. This is a circular argument that seems to come up at virtually every workshop -- but it's a good and legitimate question!

    I often hear people say: "John Shaw says he never uses a protective filter."


    First, John never said that. He said that he never uses a filter without a reason, i.e., protecting it against what? I might rather have ocean salt spray coming up on a $30 filter vs. a $1500 lens.

    Second, although John is a nice enough guy, he isn't going to pay for having your lens repaired or replaced if the front element is scratched, shattered or otherwise compromised.

    I can speak from personal experience: I HAVE HAD FILTERS PROTECT MY EXPENSIVE LENSES IN MORE THAN ONE SITUATION. But read on...

    There are a number of pros and advanced amateurs who have a working compromise solution to this debate. Here it is: use an 81A warming filter as your "protective" filter.

    The 81A will help many of your shots and probably won't hurt much. (And, if you shoot flash, the 81A will absorb some of the excess cyan cast.) If you don't need it in a particular situation, just remove it for the time being. The 81A is a better investment than the Skylight or UV filters, both of which are extremely profitable for dealers but are of little actual value photographically.
  19. i either have a uv or polarizer on at all times unless they are dirty at the moment. its worth it to have it on. we were up in olympic national park and it was raining out there so i was in a hurry to catch up with my family so i din't realize i was holding the camera bag and dropped it on the ground next to the car from a height of about a foot. the filter cracked, but the lens was fine. saved me a few hundred dollars there with an old 10 dollar filter.

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