which protective filter to buy

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by reuben demanuele, Dec 11, 2012.

  1. Hello there.
    have just increased my lens collection with a couple of expensive specimens (at least for me)...I was thinking of buying a UV/protective filter for the front element. However I have had bad experiences in the past with such filters reducing image contrast and sharpness.
    Its been ages since I purchased any filters, so I would appreciate it if someone can point me in the direction of the best filter for protective purposes....I know that i have to pay some money for such a thing and that it will not be perfect anyway but there will be situations where i simply do not trust myself or the environment I am in, and therefore filters would be a necessary evil....
     
  2. "However I have had bad experiences in the past with such filters reducing image contrast and sharpness."


    You have answered your own question. Skylight filters have a huge surface area and love to collect dust. The front element of your lens will not collect as much dust as the filter. At night such things as street lights will duplicate themselves often as a result of the filter. How often are you in hostile environments where it offers actual protection? How often have you banged into something and had the filter actually "protect" the front element? A cheap protective filter will offer all the "protection" you need when you're actually going into a dusty or damp environ. Otherwise why degrade the quality of your wonderful lens by putting some glass contraption in front of it? Front elements are tough pieces of glass themselves and clean easily.

    BTW, to actually answer your question B&W makes great filters. Good luck with your photography and your new equipment.
     
  3. I confess to being far more obsessive than Mr. Fulton with my Nikkors, so I must keep a filter in place. I do remove them occasionally, when the light is near the frame.
    My preference is a simple UV filter, and I like the Hoya Pro1Digital series at this time. They have effective multi-coating, metal mounts, aren't nutty-expessive.
     
  4. I use a mid-priced filter on almost all my lenses, from different makers including hoya and B&W. I only leave it off on lenses that have a deeply recessed front element.
    I have done my own tests and in normal shooting conditions there is no difference with and without filter. (That said, when I am doing a careful tripod studio shot I often take the filter off... just in case... old habits...) The only time it's a big issue for me is shooting into the light...
    so I am pro filters... but let's not start THAT debate again, eh?
     
  5. pge

    pge

    I have done similar non-scientific tests as Peter with similar results. I just buy good quality filters like B&W and take them off when I am in a very difficult light situation. I would never have a lens without one because of the huge amount of crud that builds up on mine over time. I have no interest in that crud building up on my actual lens.
     
  6. BTW, to actually answer your question B&W makes great filters.
    -
    I just buy good quality filters like B&W...
    Just to clarify it's B+W (Schneider Optics), and yes, they make very good filters. ;-) :)
    Look for the MRC multi-coated filters in the B+W line.
    The Nikon NC filter is a very well made multi-coated protective filter, as are the higher end Hoya filters. Lots of choices.
     
  7. B+W MRC UV filters on the lenses I use in bad weather conditions and crappy environments - so the lenses that needs cleaning frequently. No filters on all the other lenses. If no B+W is available, the Hoya HD series would be the next up for me to consider (they're not exactly cheap either).
    P.S. And I'd love to buy a pair of B&W's - they have some brilliant speakers, in my opinion.
     
  8. I use Hoya HMC and haven't had any problems. I take them off when I shoot into the sun.
     
  9. I use Nikon NC filters. All my lenses are 2.8 or 1.4. I've been happy with the results. The only time I know I have the filters is when I clean them.
     
  10. I think a protective filter is a good idea... easier to replace one than to replace the front element on your lens. But, I think its good to know the limitations a filter might impose, especially ghosting and flare issues when photographing into or toward a bright light source (like the sun).
    As far as brands go, for a basic UV protective filter, I suspect there is not as much difference from one to another as some say. I have heard that Tiffen filters are made in the USA (Rhode Island) if that is important to you.
     
  11. I use protective filters on my "everyday" lenses while I'm doing walkabout everyday photography, but I remove the filters when I've switched to working photography.
    I also use Hoyas.
     
  12. Gup

    Gup Gup

    I have always relied on my sun shades to save the lens from a knock and always replace the lens caps when not is use. Adopt good technique. Why compromise what Nikon or Zeiss have created? In 40 years I have never damaged the front element of a lens. You still have to clean the filter if it needs it so what's the difference if you have to clean the front glass? I buy Nikon and Hasselblad filters for various effects (polarize, ND) and have never had a complaint with them. However, nothing attracts me more when I'm buying a used lens than reading, "protective filter in place since new". I love that.
     
  13. +1 Hoya HMC. I use those on my glass, but I don't use a lens cap ever. I couldn't find one if i needed too. In difficult lighting I'll remove the filter, but generally I prefer the ability to replace the filter if it gets messed up.
     
  14. Interestingly, I don't use filters on my big ED-IF lenses, but I have Hoya HMC Skylight filters on my knockaround pieces,
    18-55, 50 f1.4, 85 f1.8 and. B+W on my old 28-80 workhorse. I have had problems with Tiffen uncoated filters, but never
    with the Hoya HMC ones or B+W.
     
  15. I've come full circle on filter use, after one shattered and destroyed the front element of an expensive lens. I see them as potentially doing far more harm than what they protect. Like many here, I have (tens of) thousands of dollars worth of lenses, including some very very rare historical lenses from before the Civil War. Here's the funny thing I've noticed. I have lenses from the 1840s (!) that have obviously never had a filter on them. What they do have is a solid lens hood, and a cap. Those alone have protected the lenses perfectly for over 160 years now. Modern lens caps are a very tough plastic that could almost withstand a direct hit from a small caliber bullet. That's what I use for protection! Like you, I too have had many problems with filters "acting up" and ruining shots I was getting paid for. That's the main reason I quit using them--I was losing shots. I was using the very best multicoated filters. There are a few rare times I will use a filter for protection, and that's around salt spray, waterfall spray (grit), or photo'ing volcanic vents that have sulphuric acid mist coming out of them. Other than those rare times, I avoid "protection" filters as I see them as hazardous to the lens. BTW, all of my lenses are perfect despite near daily use outdoors in all the conditions the Dakotas can throw at them. Ironically, the only time I had a lens element damaged, it was from a filter......... For me to place a filter on my most valuable lenses, it would cost MORE than a repair would. Think about that.
    Kent in SD
     
  16. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    However I have had bad experiences in the past with such filters reducing image contrast and sharpness.​
    If you point your lens directly into the sun or some light at night, any filter is likely going to have flare and ghoting. In fact, it'll likely happen even without any filter.
    Otherwise, under more normal photo situations, if your filter reduces contrast and sharpness, you are using a bad one.
    As mentioned above, any Nikon NC protection filter, Hoya multi coated or B+W multi coated should do a good job. I once stacked three Nikon L37C UV filters on a lens and made A/B comparions. Nobody on this forum could tell the difference between using 3 filtera and no filter. Even I have lost track of which version was which.
    I would use a protective filter if you photograph under some light rain, salt spray, dusty conditions, etc. In these days, usually I don't bother to use one.
     
  17. I use B+W XS Pro filters on all my glass. It has some weird micro coating that seems to keep all dust at bay. Very pricey, but very worth it.
     
  18. I don't use 'protective' filters unless mud, sand, or sea water is flying vigorously through the air. In those cases, it's a B+W.
     
  19. I used to be a hard-core "no filters" guy . . . until I slammed the front element of my 14mm Nikkor on a piece of metal last year (of course, you can't put a filter on a 14mm Nikkor). The optics survived, but the coating did get scratched.
    Now, in addition to lens shades (which I've always used for protection), I keep Nikon clear filters on only my most expensive lenses: 24mm f/1.4G, 85mm f/1.4G, 70-200mm f/2.8G. My "working" lens also has a filter, my 24-120mm f/4.0 VR, since when shooting with this, I'm elbow-to-elbow with lots other photographers with tons of gear banging around. Most of my other lenses are still unprotected (e.g., AF-S 50mm f/1.4G, AF-S 60mm Micro-Nikkor, 105mm DC-Nikkor, etc.). I do take the filters off my lenses when shooting night exteriors.
     
  20. I took all filters off my lenses long ago.
    Mainly old AI(S) lenses from 20 to 400 mm.
    And the AFS 12-24.
    And that went well for many years, always using a shade and a cap.

    But I recently bought the 24-70/2.8, I looked at the front element and thought: "mmmmmm".
    Can I afford a repair on this one?
    Then I screwed-on a B+W UV MRC Nano XS-Pro Digital E and plan to leave it there eternally.
    Come sunshine or rain..or dust, mud ..
     
  21. Hoya HD Protector filter. Not cheap but virtually unbreakable and resists fingerprints etc. Having said that, I don't use one unless I'm going out in a fishing boat or somewhere very dusty or sandy.
     
  22. Apologies for incorrect name of B+W filter. I do know better.
     
  23. Thanks Gentlemen,
    Advice taken on board and distilled. Hoya filters on the way for use when the lens is in potentially traumatic situations, to be taken off with the lens cap in other circumstances...
     
  24. Dear Shun,
    You are correct in stating that the filter I was using was a cheap one. It was...
    I have no doubt that i would not be able to isolate the effect of a filter on a "normal" image...but there have been too many instances where I have isolated image degradation because of a good quality filter since I got my D800...it could be just me...but i feel better taking the filter off if my environment feels safe enough
    Reuben
     
  25. Nikon NC filters work great on all my Nikon lenses. Highly recommend.
     
  26. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Dear Shun,
    You are correct in stating that the filter I was using was a cheap one. It was...
    I have no doubt that i would not be able to isolate the effect of a filter on a "normal" image...but there have been too many instances where I have isolated image degradation because of a good quality filter since I got my D800​
    Again, unless you shoot directly into a light source such as the sun, you should not be able to see any image degradation with a high-quality filter protection. If you do observe degradation, by my definition, that is not a high-quality filter.
    Modern lens caps are a very tough plastic that could almost withstand a direct hit from a small caliber bullet. That's what I use for protection!​
    Kent, you either have lens protection 100% of the time when you are out in the field under unfriendly conditions or you have no protection. Lens caps do provide very good protection, but unfrotunately you cannot take pictures with a lens cap on, at least not very effectively.
    It reminds me that a married couple friends of ours got pregnant "unexpectedly" years ago. They were young and didn't want a baby yet. We asked them whether they used contraception, and their answer was that they did "most of the time."
     

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