Use clear fliter on L Lenses?

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by krzysztof_hanusiak, Jun 1, 2010.

  1. Hello there,
    I have two L lenses and I want to use clear filters to protect them without affecting the quality of images. Is this possible? What would be the best lenses for that purpose? Are there any brands that are better than others? Should I be looking at the UV filters?
    If this is important, one lens is the EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM and my use is primarily insect/flower closeups and also portraits.
    The other lens I have is the EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM; for that one I have a polarizing filter, but often I remove it and I don't want to scratch/damage the lens glass. I use it for everything else.
  2. In 20 years I've never damaged the front glass on a lens, I use the hood as a buffer for protection.
  3. do a search, and you will find endless discussions of this on this site and others.
    I have used UV filters for protection for decades and have ended up tossing a few that saved a lens. I use them virtually all the time with my macro lenses (including the one you own) because you have to get close and can't use a hood.
    If you are going to use a UV filter for protection: (1) use a good, multicoated one, and (2) take it off if the light source is in front of the lens and you are getting flare or haze. Following those two rules, I have never seen noticeable degradation. (I have when I violated those rules, particularly both at the same time.) If you want to read posts from people who argue the opposite, just search this site for UV filter.
  4. A protective filter for macro work? Gee, sounds pretty reasonable to me. I'd recommend:
    Hoya HMC
    Hoya Pro-1
    Both are high quality, multi-coated, optical glass -- just like the numerous elements in your lenses. Neither will degrade your image quality.
  5. I started out with filters on my lenses and then tossed them for good. I always use the lens hoods and that gives me more than enough protection. It is a very personal choice - people are divided on this topic right down the middle.
  6. I don't use filters either, but I always keep the hood on. Some will say filters degrade quality, others will say it doesn't. I say there wouldn't be a debate if there wasn't something there. The degradation will be small, but it is also determined by the filter you use. If you want best quality don't use one at all, if you want great quality with a filter get a good one. Just remeber you get what you pay for. B+W and Hoya are both good. I've also heard that the glass on L lenses is harder than normal lenses and doesn't scratch easily, therefore they don't need filters for protection as much.
  7. Long, unresolved argument continues.
    As a compromise, I might suggest getting decent filters like the best Hoya ones, although if you can afford the more expensive B+W type filters, why not?
    Then use the filter for situations where sealing of the lens is important (I think Canon used to recommend such filters as a part of weather-sealing some lenses).
    When doing something really critical in a non-threatening environment, remove the filters just in case, as I always do.
    I still have seen no real, variable controlled tests demonstrating that filters hurt or not. You'd think that if some filters were better, their makers would post controlled tests proving that. You'd also think that if they weren't better, the makers of the cheaper ones would post their tests. The absence of such published tests does make me suspicious that all filters degrade image quality a little, but I confess I just can't see it with the lenses I have and the filters I've used.
    So far the only test I have seen is my own. I did establish through my own empirical tests that a Hoya HMC was superior on an L lens to a bottle bottom, despite what some filter snobs claim (link)
  8. If the circumstances dictate to YOU that a protective filter is needed -- then by all means go for it for your own peace of mind. 100% chances a filter -- ANY filter -- will degrade the quality -- it's called "physics of light". However, how detectable is that degradation?
    ALWAYS use a lens hood. If you use L lenses and you often shoot without a lens hood then you're forever a rookie tyro looking like an enthusiast tourist with a Silver Rebel + kit lens.
  9. All the info you could ever ask for, with the proof of good testing techniques, is here, page 4 has some very interesting results too.
    I say it is your lens do what you want with it.
  10. Unless you regularly shoot a sealed-body camera in extremely hostile conditions, I think that adding a filter for "protection" purposes is generally a poor bet and has the potential to produce some image degradation in some circumstances. I've written more about this here.
  11. If you want "clear" filters, I'd go for quality UV filters.
  12. All my lenses, including the L glasses EF 70-200 f/2.8L IS, EF 17-40 f/4L, and EF 100 f/2.8L IS Macro, have a Tiffen UV filter on it. Image quality is not lost at all, and the lens stays in mint condition without even letting dust get on the glass.
  13. The 17-40 and other L lenses require a filter to make them weather-sealed. Does this suggest Canon think a (good quality) filter doesn't make a difference?
  14. Just curious, folks... I admit I don't do much macro work, but I do know it involves poking your lens very close up to flowers, bees, and other stuff that might unpredictably contact the front element of the lens. Is this not one of those situations in which a lens might benefit from protection?
    I think it's interesting that there are endless discussions about whether a high quality filter adversely impacts image quality, and yet there is zero discussion (nada, zip) about the relative merits of lens designs with more or fewer lens elements. Why is this? I mean what some people are arguing here is that another piece of glass is somehow going to hurt the image quality in a way that the dozen other pieces of glass in the lens or the glass AI/IR filter over the sensor will not. I mean... come on, people! Isn't this navel gazing to the extreme? The OP just wants to protect a nice lens from bugs and goo. It's not all that complicated.
    You know, there was a time... before the Internet(s)... when these silly arguments weren't even waged -- a time when nobody questioned the utility of a protective filter. Maybe we were all just stupid back then.
  15. Mike have you used a Canon filter? They are utter garbage.
    Sarah, I remember a few heated discussions at the camera club, long before the internet, between "filter practicalists" or FP's and "no filter purists" the NFP's :)
    Of course the FP's are practical, pragmatic buisness minded right wingers who see the NFP's as anti big filter buisness lunatics who have lost touch with reality and core values, the NFP's on the other hand see themselves as the only ones who can replicate a true image of the world, just as nature intended, with their several thousand dollar body, their very un-natural lenses with exotic elements and the natural computer programs they use to make their images look so realistic!
    Praise the Lord, I wonder if he uses a UV filter on his Leica?
    There, I think I've trodden on every bodies toes. Try not to lose touch with the question everybody, it is just a filter.
  16. well what can i say, i'd be one of "no filter purists"...
    when i started playing with photography i was told to use filter as it's cheaper to replace it than front element... that time i used to shoot with - let's name it - brand "a" gear (not to start "which brand is better" argument)... 2 years after i decided to jump ship to brand "b" and i had to buy all new stuff and i decided not to buy filters and see how it is without it on the lens...
    to say that in the simplest way, i use 9 lenses and never got a single scratch on my front element... one day i bought wide angle zoom that cost me €1649 and i got hoya pro1 digital uv filter worth €120 for free... i decided to use it on non paid test photos with some wannabe model and i'm glad it was non paid gig. i got the worst ghosting ever and over half photos were unusable.
    after that i tried to replicate the situation in various conditions without filter on same lens and i never got the same horible ghosting as i got with uv on.
    so to answer your question i simply wouldn't use filter... as others said - and i strongly believe it also - if you take good care of your equipment, hood is all the protection that you need...
  17. i just found it as i was browsing through a forum:
    should be interesting for you :)
  18. The 17-40 and other L lenses require a filter to make them weather-sealed. Does this suggest Canon think a (good quality) filter doesn't make a difference?
    "Weather sealed" lenses are, of course, useless if you don't use a weather-sealed camera body...
  19. The 17-40 and other L lenses require a filter to make them weather-sealed. Does this suggest Canon think a (good quality) filter doesn't make a difference?
    "Weather sealed" lenses are, of course, useless if you don't use a weather-sealed camera body...
    By the way, I'm not a "no filter purist." I'll use a filter (CP, ND) when the value added is greater than the value subtracted.
  20. I just ask myself: if I were to scratch the front end of the lens, would I prefer to replace a $25 filter or pay perhaps hundreds for the lens to be fixed? I had a Hasselblad T* lens that got a scratch on the front glass. The lens isn't in production anymore, so I was quoted $1200 for the element, $200 to install. I'm sure it's not always that extreme of a case, but you get the point. It was actually cheaper in my case to buy another used lens and swap the front element of the one that was cosmetically and mechanically in the best shape with the lens that was otherwise in worse shape but had a beautiful front element.
  21. For another reason to consider no filter, this post is interesting:
    This person may be replacing the filter and dealing with a lens damaged by broken filter shards. While a filter might provide some protection in some small percentage of all the possible scenarios that could lead to lens damage, a) it won't protect against all of the, b) it has the potential to create its own damage in certain situations (at least compared to, say, using a hood and/or lens cap), and c) there are at least some circumstances in which it can degrade image quality.
  22. I agree with those who do not use filters for protection, but always use lens hoods. They have protected my lenses very well over the years.
  23. Personally I use uv filters on the front of all my lens. Like some of the previous posters I either use the Hoya SHMC or BW brands. One thing to keep in mind is you can't always use a hood (especially in the occasions you are using a external flash on your camera since it can cause a shadow to show up in the shot). I think if you are using a good muli coated product I don't think your quality will suffer.
  24. the lens hood is the best protection for your lens. unless you are taking a photo of people who are throwing rocks at you, why would you want to stick another piece of glass in front of the lens, that can only ever have a detrimental affect on your image?
  25. Hoya S-HMC filters do not degrade the image at all. No loss of resolution, no introduction of flare, no detectable difference. I protect all of my lenses with them.
    I have not personally tested the Hoya Pro1 Digital or HD filters, but judging from the light transmission specs they should be about the same.
  26. FWIW I shot with Leica R and M film cameras for years before switching to a Canon DSLR. I never used a "protective" filter on a Leica lens. Those lenses are bulletproof and easy to keep clean. When I bought Canon L's (24-70 f/2.8 and 70-200 f/2.8 IS), I could not keep the front elements clean - kept getting an oily film. Maybe I am just a screw up with lens cleaning but that is my experience. (I used every cleaning system known to high end camera stores.) To solve my problem, I screwed on B&W multicoated filters just to have an element to keep clean. The B&W filters are easy to keep clean. The filters are designated "MRC." I bought another B&W UV filter that is pretty crappy and not designated "MRC." It's trash. My Canon lenses are very very good but I feel better having a top grade B&W filter to keep clean. Also, FWIW, I saw someplace that keeping a front element clean, or putting on a filter was not nearly as significant as keeping a rear element clean. I almost never touch a back element for fear for doing damage. I am just anal about changing lenses in the cleanest of environments.
  27. I use them personally and consider them to be cheap insurance. But as others have said, get the best ones you can afford. I found best prices on the Hoya HD UV filters at the website 2filter, a New Hampshire based shop. I started a thread recently on the same subject and included a poll. The winner was using UV filters for protection, but much rationale in both directions was provided in the 60 posts on the thread. Good insights here...
  28. I use them personally and consider them to be cheap insurance​
    how can using a $50 filter be cheaper than using the more robust free lens cap that came with your lens?
  29. I'm with Sarah, who puts the whole thing in perspective.
    But, just to add a bit more:
    "Some will say filters degrade quality, others will say it doesn't. I say there wouldn't be a debate if there wasn't something there"
    Another way of looking at it is that there wouldn't be a debate if it was obvious that filters degrade images. Anyway, forget that and go back and read Sarah's comments.
  30. I take issue with G Dan Mitchell's website on the following point:
    It is no more difficult to clean the front element of the lens than to clean a filter – you do it the same way.​
    I cleaned my filters the other day. I unscrewed them, placed them (one at a time!) in my ultrasonic tank, set for 3 minutes, removed, rinsed and padded dry with a lint-free cloth. You can't do that with a lens element!
  31. I use the Hoya #51AAx Version 2 on all my expensive lenses... it's a rose-colored filter that just makes the whole question of 'Filters or No Filters?' seem less important.....
  32. If you are in a sandstorm, or maybe on the beach, or some other hazardous to lenses situation, that is a good idea. Otherwise, unless you are accident prone, it is not. Anything put in front of a lens will degrade the image. I have not had a problem with no filters for the 44 years that I have avoided using them, Any filters. Once I used a yellow filter for the sky, in b&w, but the picture came out like a cliche. There is something else, a little secret, that you should know about filters. Their primary purpose is to make money for everyone involved, especially the camera store. Camera stores make almost nothing on camera sales. Filters are one of the highest markup items in the store. So the guys selling them have developed ways to make you think you need them.
  33. Although I'm no expert, as a consumer of this debate, I think there is less disagreement than meets the eye. It seems that in theory all glass has optical effects and so a filter that is not doing good optically is doing harm optically (as nature abhors ties as much as it does a vacuum). The only question is whether the harm done is noticeable. The only way to resolve this in any meaningful way is through a blind test. Results, I imagine, will vary.
  34. This article is interesting for some perspective:
    B+W MRC filters have two big advantages:
    1) The MRC coating is harder than glass, so it's harder to scratch; it's also easy to clean:
    MRC coating (Multi-Resistant Coating) by B+W is not only an extraordinarily effective multiple layer coating, it is also harder than glass, so that it protects filters from scratches (for instance when cleaning the filters), and it is also water- and dirt repellent, thus facilitating filter maintenance.​
    2) The glass used is Schott glass - the same glass used for Zeiss and Schneider lenses
    I've never seen shots showing IQ degradation as a result of using good filters. Flare can be an issue in certain circumstances, as already mentioned, but that is easy to find out.
    A quick test I use for UV filters is to pass them over a page of printed text - a good filter will look as if there is no glass. I'm mentioning this in case you want to compare different brands.
    For cheap lenses, B+W filters are overkill - I prefer Quantaray MC in that case - they are very affordable and I had no issues with their quality.
  35. I prepared these test comparisons when someone on dpreview was claiming that a Hoya S-HMC filter wrecked his images. (After seeing these, he realized he had a defective filter and returned it to Hoya for a replacement. Like all equipment, test and verify upon receipt.) I forgot I had them or I would have uploaded them with my first post.
    I don't have a flare comparison ready to post, but I've also done extreme flare tests and found zero difference with and without the filter. High quality filters do not degrade the image.
    I refuse to shoot expensive lenses without filters, especially with sea spray, rain, and sand. I have a couple small marks on the filter for my 17-40L which I've shot a lot in harsh conditions that require cleaning after each shoot. That would be the front element but for the filter (which is necessary for weather sealing btw).
  36. Yes, in theory a clear filter degrades optical performance. No, in reality for 99 out of 100 shots (maybe more) you could not reliably tell the difference between a shot with a filter and one without. If you are more comfortable with a filter, use it without guilt. If the idea of a filter offends you skip it and feel equally good.
    Worry less, shoot more...
  37. I never owned a $25 filter that was worth buying. B+W filters are often considered to be a more expensive alternative to the best Hoya filters, but many times, the best Hoya filters cost more. A good filter (77 mm) is going to set you back anywhere from $100-$200 each. B+W, Hoya, and a few ultra high priced brands are all pretty much works of filter making art, no matter which ad-copy tickles you the most.
    Scott Ferris mentioned that Canon filters are junk. I agree. Canon is not really in the filter business, and the few filters they do offer are junk filters made for them (like battery cells), priced as junk filters, and aimed at cheapskate consumers who want a boutique name at a junk price by the regional Canon operating companies as an extra income stream (as best as I can tell).
    Years ago, I used UV filters on all of my lenses as a matter of course. It seemed like the thing to do at the time, and even today, I keep a full compliment of filters handy, and use both UV, and color temp correcting filters for shooting film when they are called for. For DSLR use, I only have two lenses that sport a standard filter anymore. The 17-40 L wears one at times, as it is the only L lens I remember that Canon made a point of tying a filter to it's weather resistance, and I keep one on my EF-s 17-55 f/2.8 IS lens because I am too chicken to remove it. The rumor mill complained about that lens being a dust vacuum, and mine is about 5 years old, and has never had a spot of dust inside. Some people claim that a filter blocks the dust from entering... I don't see how, but it has been there since day one, so I'll keep it there.
    That said, nothing protects a lens from taking a physical beating like a proper lens hood. Nothing at all. Certainly not a filter screwed into the front element. Also, a proper hood can only add to to the potential IQ of a lens, and never subtract from it. Any filter, no matter how perfectly constructed, or how well coated, cannot add to the IQ potential of any lens, unless the filter modifies the light entering the lens for a desired effect that only a filter can deliver (Polorizer, color correcting with film, etc.). Otherwise, even if there is no apparent image degradation caused by a filter, there is zero possibility that anything good could result in the final image from screwing it in place.
    Adding a filter, no matter how well coated, adds two additional glass surfaces to the total number of glass surfaces already built into the lens. Each of those surfaces reflects some light passing through them back the other way, including light reflected back to the filter from all of the other glass surfaces inside the lens already. Different angles of incidence create more or less interaction with reflections from other elements, but in no case does the presence of a filter improve things at all. Even if you add a wonderful, modern, multi-coated filter to an uncoated, or poorly coated lens, it doesn't improve anything at all. The uncoated lens elements still spray just as much reflected light back and forth between them, into the image plane at unfortunate angles, and back out into space, only now, the additional two surfaces of the filter add to the chorus of internal reflections. Not much, mind you, but even if a laboratory clean example of the fine filter only reflected 3% of all of the light passing through it, that is 3% of the total amount of light passing through it the first time the light enters the lens, plus compound interest on reflections from the other lens elements that would have otherwise have gone off into space meeting two new surfaces to bounce of of, plus a minimum of two more faint, but real "phantom" flare points, or beads at the image plane in flare prone lighting conditions.
    Bear in mind, that is with lab clean filter glass covering a lab clean front element. Ultra fine particles from the air, smoke haze, just plain dirt, and of course, fine cleaning scratches now have three surfaces to attack over time, and that compounds the problem significantly. That's my basis for deciding that no possible good can come from having a filter that does not directly enhance the image I'm about to capture mounted on my lens.
    There are exceptions, of course. I'd prefer to sacrifice a fine filter to protect the front element of a lens from a howling dust storm in Arizona (done that), glue and strap a filter into a clear, thin, plastic garbage bag as a means of weatherproofing a camera and lens combo that was never meant to get seriously wet, or any other occasion where it seems like the right thing to do. As a rule though, a squeeze bulb like a Rocket Blower, a Lens Pen, a microfiber cloth, and maybe a clean T-shirt do a fine job of keeping just the one surface of the front lens element in fine condition. The lens hood keeps fingers and most dust off of the glass, and really does protect the lens from snow flakes, rain drizzle, bumps, bangs, and gravity kisses as best as can be expected without leaving the camera safe at home. Well, there are body armor kits for cameras, but that solution doesn't appeal to me at all.
    Even when I was a fan of keeping a filter on every other lens I owned, I never used one shooting macro subjects. Even with the best filters, sometimes the funky lighting arrangement needed, and the close proximity of the lights, lens, and subject made noticeable differences in image contrast and flare compared to not using a filter at all.
    So, that's the UV filter viewpoint of a converted fan of leaving a filter in place at all times. I used them for years, and one day decided that they are more trouble than they are worth. I have lenses that go back 30 years before I started using filters that have beautiful front elements, and in my large format days, I had lenses older than I am that looked fine, and never saw a "protective" filter.
    Does it really matter at all? Probably not a bit, and I wouldn't even try to change your mind. If I borrow a lens from a friend who is a fan of UV filters, I leave it in place the entire time I use it. If I loan a lens, it travels with a hood, not a filter, and I expect that the hood never leaves the lens. What happens when I'm not looking is another matter, but everyone I trade gear with uses lens hoods anyway, so I don't worry. So that's what I'll leave you with. Use high quality UV filters if they help you sleep better, as they likely won't hurt much, but always use a high quality factory lens hood. Nothing will protect your expensive glass like a polycarbonate condom....
  38. I don't agree on "canon filters are junk". I have done tests on my canon protect filters and found no difference with them on or off.
    Is there any reason that canon or nikon couldn't come out with a filter using their new coatings (canon SWC, nikon Nano crystal coat)? Since these have a spectacular effect in reducing flare compared to standard coatings, it would seem that they could produce a filter that worked extremely well.
  39. I S perfectly illustrates one of my points regarding the "easier to clean filter than lens" argument:
    I take issue with G Dan Mitchell's website on the following point:
    "It is no more difficult to clean the front element of the lens than to clean a filter – you do it the same way."
    I cleaned my filters the other day. I unscrewed them, placed them (one at a time!) in my ultrasonic tank, set for 3 minutes, removed, rinsed and padded dry with a lint-free cloth. You can't do that with a lens element!
    My first thought was that the poster was being funny by suggesting that cleaning filters one at a time for three minutes in an ultrasonic tank was a better and easier way to deal with the normal "stuff" that must be cleaned. Part me hopes that this suggestion is meant to be tongue-in-cheek humor. Might be a little subtle for most, but I can enjoy a good joke, too. :))
    I also have to recognize that there are folks out there who think that there is some value in cleaning lenses/filters regularly to that pristine level. If so, this really crosses the line into obsession. A few specks of dust or even a tiny scratch on the front element of your lens (or a speck or two inside the lens) have zero effect on your photographs. While I might make you feel better to have something approaching a perfectly clean front surface (lens or filter) it won't make a bit of difference in your photography.
    To which I can hear the next argument evolving: If a bit of dust on the front element won't be visible, how can I claim that the filter itself could degrade the image? Good question. There are several points to make about this:
    1. The modes of potential image degradation are different. There are three potential issues with the filter. An inexpensive filter is more likely to produce all three, though even an expensive filter is not immune all of them: decreased contrast (likely extremely minor or invisible in most but not all cases), distortion of the image (also likely to be extremely minor or invisible in most cases), and reflections and potential for additional flare. The latter can be reduced by careful shooting and good filters, but internal reflections off of the perfectly flat inner surface of the filter are a known issue, especially with bright light sources and night photography. But image degradation (although real in at least some cases) isn't my main reason for thinking that "protective" filters are generally a waste of money..
    2. No protective approach (that includes actually going out and using the lens to make photographs) can insure that no damage will happen to a lens. Filters, lens caps, hoods, and careful use can diminish the risk but not eliminate it. There could be some situations in which a front blow to the filter might have caused damage to the front element, but there are many more modes of possible damage where the filter would not, or in which it might even cause its own damage. So the cost of the filter doesn't buy you "protection" from damage; it merely (arguably) reduces the risk - but only, in terms of overall risks, a little bit. Anyone who purchases insurance understands that the cost of the insurance needs to be balanced against the cost of possible damage and the likelihood that a covered loss will occur. In this case, the cost/benefit doesn't make sense.
    3. There are other options that provide equivalent if not better protection that a) have virtually no potential for any image degradation (and may even, in the case of a hood, improve image quality) and b) which are a better cost proposition. These include the use of a lens hood and a lens cap.
    Take care,
  40. I use a filter if and when there is something in the air being blown toward the lens. Otherwise, they stay in the bag.
  41. My first thought was that the poster was being funny by suggesting that...
    To which I can hear the next argument evolving...
    Good question. There are several points to make about this...​
    Ah ha! But where is the missing quart of strawberries? ;-)
    Dan, I have quite a lot of respect for you, your photography, and your knowledge of optics. However, this is really getting into navel gazing. The main argument against using a good quality of filter is that it COULD, IN THEORY, have an adverse impact on the image. To your credit, you also pitch the argument that it does, IN FACT, cost money to buy a filter. I'll accept the second argument, but not the first. If something doesn't happen in practice, it doesn't happen. It's the image that matters, not the pieces of glass it passed through when being captured. If the image is good, then it's good.
    I'll pitch one more pro-filter argument here that nobody has mentioned but that, IMO, is quite important. Protective filters give people peace of mind, just like insurance. Insurance is usually not economical. On average, people lose money by buying it. Otherwise it would not be profitable for insurance companies to sell it. Insurance only benefits people by protecting them from losses that would be too big to bear. However, it also gives people peace of mind, and there is an intangible value to that.
    The same may be said of filters. Are they economical? Maybe and maybe not. However, they do often give people peace of mind and make them more confident in their shooting environment. I know protective filters do carry this benefit for me. When I can dispense a bit with worries that one of my lenses will be scratched up from, say, a lens cap coming off in my camera bag as I'm climbing over a rock and bump the bag the wrong way, then I can concentrate more on doing my photography. That's a good thing. It might all be psychological -- or not -- but it's still what works for me and others here. Until you can show me how a Hoya Pro-1 (S-HMC) filter degrades an image in practice, not in theory, I'm going to continue using the things.
    Thank you so much for all your input, I've been reading this topic evolve, it beats the best photo magazine article as all of your have hands-on experience and also have your opinions - all are valuable in making anyone's decisions.
    Thanks and I' look forward to future comments :)
  43. If this is important, one lens is the EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM and my use is primarily insect/flower closeups and also portraits.​
    For best image contrast and flare mitigation in general, you should use a lens hood. This particular lens has a lens hood that is so deep and narrow, that I can't imagine any additional protection from a filter. If you can't use the lens hood for some reason and still think you need that extra protection, both Hoya HD and B+W XS-Pro are nice. I don't use filters for protection for many reasons. One that nobody mentioned in this thread earlier is that in my case filters usually get dirty pretty quickly, while front elements of my lenses, that are often recessed, don't. In any case, it is a good idea to have UV or protective filters in your bag so that you can use them if your lens is exposed to ocean spray, you shoot near waterfalls, dogs etc.
  44. My views on the subject can be found here, but I'll paste them in below:

    Established photo orthodoxy says that you should always fit a filter to every lens you own for protection. So what do I say? Piffle and poppycock, that’s what.

    There are perfectly good arguments both ways – and a few specious ones, too. In favour: Acts as an “invisible lens cap”, prevents sticky fingers and wind-bourne debris from coming in contact with the lens. Can’t (and don’t) argue with that. Filters out UV (if UV or skylight filter) – helpful if there’s a significant amount of UV, although generally not actually required with most lenses. Still, can’t hurt. Provides impact/scratch protection. This is the one I really don’t agree with – firstly, the filter is frequently some distance from the front element, and thus more prone to contact with the offending article than the lens element would be, and secondly, the ONLY incidence of lens element damage I’ve ever had came from a filter which shattered when I dropped the lens (on a tram at Crich Tramway Museum) and a shard of glass scratched the front element. That was over 20 years ago, and I’ve not had a scratched element since – and I wouldn’t claim to be that careful with lenses. Easier and safer to clean a filter than a lens element. Well, it’s safer, for sure, but I always found filters needed a lot more frequent cleaning and were more prone to smearing than lenses. Protects the filter ring from damage when the lens is dropped/bashed – sometimes it does, sometimes it causes more damage, but on balance it probably works, IMHO. Against: Damage – as above. I’m not claiming it’s any more or less prevalent than without a filter, simply that the possibility needs to be considered. Flare. Extra glass/air surfaces increase internal reflections and thus veiling flare. In truth, with multicoated filters it’s not a huge problem except when shooting contre-jour, but it’s a consideration. Cost. Good filters cost quite a bit, especially if you have a few lenses. The insurance option may well be more cost-effective, and provides other benefits. Damage to filter ring – filters can damage, be cross-threaded etc. Not a huge concern, but an argument for filters in brass mounts, which tend to jam a lot less than some others. Danger of vignetting with wideangles when stacked with other filters. Reduction in resolution due to extra glass – frankly, I doubt if many, or any, users could spot any such reduction. Alternatives: – lens caps provide better protection when not shooting, less risk of damage than from a glass filter, and no optical loss when removed to take a picture. But they’re more fiddly and easily lost, of course. Rigid lens hoods provide excellent protection against drop damage and make it hard (but not impossible) for anything to touch the front element. Conclusion So, am I saying you shouldn’t use protection filters? No, certainly not. What I AM saying is that you should consider all the aspects and decide for yourself – not blindly follow the advice either of those who say they’re essential or those who say they’re more trouble than they’re worth. It’s not thinking through all the arguments that I think is dangerous – when you have, at least you’ve come to an informed decision. Personally, I rarely use them, but generally carry them – I do use them if there’s salt spray, sand or dust storms etc. I use rigid hoods and lens caps all the time – and insurance.
  45. Sarah Fox,
    You proposed that no one mentioned the "pro filter argument" that a filter can offer peace of mind in the manner of an insurance policy to those who take comfort in such things. Here is a quote from my previous post that suggests exactly that....
    "Does it really matter at all? Probably not a bit, and I wouldn't even try to change your mind. If I borrow a lens from a friend who is a fan of UV filters, I leave it in place the entire time I use it. If I loan a lens, it travels with a hood, not a filter, and I expect that the hood never leaves the lens. What happens when I'm not looking is another matter, but everyone I trade gear with uses lens hoods anyway, so I don't worry. So that's what I'll leave you with. Use high quality UV filters if they help you sleep better, as they likely won't hurt much, but always use a high quality factory lens hood. Nothing will protect your expensive glass like a polycarbonate condom...."
  46. Well, that's true, Jim! I stand corrected! ;-)
    You did get me to thinking more about lens hoods. I tend not to use them because of their bulk. There's no need to shade if the sun is behind me, and if the sun is striking the lens, I can shade it with my hand. So I guess I'm more inclined to use filters because I don't have the peace of mind that might come from using a sun shade. Besides that, a sun shade makes it difficult to use a lens cap, which is the ultimate protection. (I'm compulsive about keeping my lens capped when not in use.)
    I was thinking about your sun shade argument yesterday when on a long hike. One person was holding a DSLR by its strap. It had a long/large lens on it with a sun shade. Both were hanging downwards, of course. The front of the lens was dangling just a few inches above the ground as she walked along. I have no idea whether she had a cap under that shade, but I suspect not. Scary! 8-0 Good thing she had the sun shade! I think she would have lost her cap, and a filter would probably get scratched up in short order. I can't imagine all the dirt from that dusty trail, though! Yikes!
  47. Ansel Adams used a filter for nearly all of his iconic photographs and that was in a day and age when lens quality was not as good as it is now. For the purists who argue that filters degrade image quality, I suggest filters should be low on the list of their reasons for degraded images.
  48. Every lens I ever bought came with a lens cap which I think is the best possible protection you can give to your lens. When you want to take a picture, you can remove it easily and when you're done you can put it back on. Am I missing something?
    I do agree filters degrade the image. I also agree that the level of degradation is often undetectable. But filters aren't cheap, the good ones at least and that is the main reason I don't put them on my lenses. They serve no purpose.
  49. That's right Peter, it's not rocket science is it! It's not just IQ loss, which as you say, is often undetectable, but filters rarely improve a lenses propensity to flare.

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