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To use a filter or not to use a filter on a lens?


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I'm using filters on my lenses for the following reasons:

 - If you buy good quality filters, the impact on the optical quality of the lens in my opinion is negligible (like 0.3% light loss and almost zero additional ghosting/flare).

 - I clean my lenses quite often. Even when first blowing/brushing off dust before a wet wipe, you'll inadvertedly cause abrasion on the front element. In time, the degradation of the coating on this element will have adverse effects on image quality as well. Replacing a front filter is cheap, replacing a front lens element not so much.

 - Don't expect the filter glass to protect your front element from a direct impact with a solid object, but having some metal ring protruding beyond the front element certainly helps in keeping it from harm. A lot of impact energy can be dissipated by the deformation of the filter ring before wrecking the front of your lens. Always keeping the lens hood on also helps here.

- Resale value: a minor scratch on the front element (e.g. by accidentally rubbing a grain of sand over the lens while cleaning it) won't affect image quality much, but it severely affects resale value.

Have a read here, you might find it interesting:

https://www.lensrentals.com/blog/2017/06/the-comprehensive-ranking-of-the-major-uv-filters-on-the-market/

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  • 2 weeks later...

Have a read at that link I posted, some good ones there. Filters always affect image quality, but good quality filters have such incredibly small influence that - in my opinion - the influence is negligible.

Some people however just don't accept anything that might affect image quality. Filters are not for them.

Edited by Pieter
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I only use a filter when it produces an effect I want or to experiment on what results a new filter type gives.

There is no evidence that significant protection is gained from normal UV type filters so I rarely use them on digital (film is highly UV sensitive so I do  use them for film). Many experiments show that impact damage can be increased by such a filter, but with salt spray etc their protection is meaningful.

I regularly use infra red filters, polarisers, & (at least fairly often) one of a host of more exotic filters. I typically get huge differences from using filters :)

With most lenses I find the IQ effect from using cheap old filters to be perfectly acceptable, but on my 150-500 and other very long focal length lenses regular filters can give visual problems.

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  • 2 months later...

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On 11/26/2020 at 11:56 AM, Pieter said:

I'm using filters on my lenses for the following reasons:

 - If you buy good quality filters, the impact on the optical quality of the lens in my opinion is negligible (like 0.3% light loss and almost zero additional ghosting/flare).

 - I clean my lenses quite often. Even when first blowing/brushing off dust before a wet wipe, you'll inadvertedly cause abrasion on the front element. In time, the degradation of the coating on this element will have adverse effects on image quality as well. Replacing a front filter is cheap, replacing a front lens element not so much.

 - Don't expect the filter glass to protect your front element from a direct impact with a solid object, but having some metal ring protruding beyond the front element certainly helps in keeping it from harm. A lot of impact energy can be dissipated by the deformation of the filter ring before wrecking the front of your lens. Always keeping the lens hood on also helps here.

- Resale value: a minor scratch on the front element (e.g. by accidentally rubbing a grain of sand over the lens while cleaning it) won't affect image quality much, but it severely affects resale value.

Have a read here, you might find it interesting:

https://www.lensrentals.com/blog/2017/06/the-comprehensive-ranking-of-the-major-uv-filters-on-the-market/

All excellent points.  I've had a very expensive lens saved because I had a filter on the front -- it broke the fall.  I've also had a very expensive lens saved because I had a METAL lens hood on the front -- it broke the fall.  No, I'm not clumsy, and it was a LOT cheaper to replace the filter and the lens shade.  Just make sure your lens shades are metal.

And I agree that a good quality filter will not degrade the image enough to make a difference, BUT a correct lens shade WILL make it better in lots of cases.

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I generally use filters. Although I do use lenses with no filter in terrible conditions that require cleaning multiple times a day and had no issues except 1 time on a boat. The coating got marred some. Otherwise, no issues. And the 1 time was an old legacy lens. The reason I didn't use a filter those times were the lenses were fisheyes.

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I have uv filters on all my lenses except my Tamron 15-30mm and my Minolta 500mm reflex (they don't have filter threads) for protection.

I then have a Firecrest filter holder that I use with Formatt Hitech,  Polariing, ND and ND grad/reverse grad filters.

The Minolta reflex lens has rear mounted ND filters that slot into the lens mounting.

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1 hour ago, slackercruster said:

I generally use filters. Although I do use lenses with no filter in terrible conditions that require cleaning multiple times a day and had no issues except 1 time on a boat. The coating got marred some. Otherwise, no issues. And the 1 time was an old legacy lens. The reason I didn't use a filter those times were the lenses were fisheyes.

Just curious.  Why would use NOT use filters "in terrible conditions"?  It seems to me that those would be the BEST times to use filters.

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17 minutes ago, thebeardedgroundsman said:

I have uv filters on all my lenses except my Tamron 15-30mm and my Minolta 500mm reflex (they don't have filter threads) for protection.

I then have a Firecrest filter holder that I use with Formatt Hitech,  Polariing, ND and ND grad/reverse grad filters.

The Minolta reflex lens has rear mounted ND filters that slot into the lens mounting.

FYI, Minolta's 500mm reflex lenses have filter threads -- TWO, in fact.

They have a 39mm rear filter thread, and they have a 77mm front filter thread:

http://www.subclub.org/minman/500.htm

These also have an INTEGRAL rear 39mm UV filter that is part of the optical system -- and is often mistakenly removed.

Their 100-500mm zooms have 72mm front threads:

http://www.subclub.org/minman/1005008.htm

FYI, any 500mm reflex lens CLAIMING to be f8 with a filter thread LESS than 77mm can not possibly be f8.  There are MANY out there.  These are f8.5 at best and suffer from severe light fall off.

Edited by XKAES
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Thanks for that info Xkaes, my 500 reflex didn't come with a handbook, so I assumed the lens hood was integral,. As it turned out, it was just screwed in really tightly. 

The filter diameter is 82mm and the rear one is a drop in filter rather than a screw thread.

I guess I'm about to purchase a new UV filter and steppe ring!

PS, Skip the step up ring - the Firecrest filter holder is based on an 82mm ring - Result!

Cheers

Edited by thebeardedgroundsman
Found that filter holder has 82mm ring
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8 hours ago, thebeardedgroundsman said:

Thanks for that info Xkaes, my 500 reflex didn't come with a handbook, so I assumed the lens hood was integral,. As it turned out, it was just screwed in really tightly. 

The filter diameter is 82mm and the rear one is a drop in filter rather than a screw thread.

I guess I'm about to purchase a new UV filter and steppe ring!

PS, Skip the step up ring - the Firecrest filter holder is based on an 82mm ring - Result!

Cheers

You must be using an AF Minolta 500mm -- MAXXUM or Sony lens.  That has an 82mm front thread.  Minolta's earlier manual focus models had a 77mm front thread.  The optical design is basically the same for both, but they added an extra element in the MAXXUM AF model to allow for auto-focusing.  My understanding is that it is the only auto-focusing CAT ever made.  Sony just re-badged it as "SA50080" -- or something like that.

Edited by XKAES
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  • 5 months later...

I never use filters except for a specific purpose, like a CP or an ND. Using a UV filter, no matter how good it is supposed to be, will always have a detrimental effect on your images. If you want to protect the front element of your lens the solution will have come with it free of charge: your lens hood.

The sad fact is that some camera vendors will still try and persuade you to buy a UV filter for your new lens and the reason they do it is simple: they make extra profit from it

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Alas, it's easy to spout off claims without any evidence.  Unfortunately, I guess some of us still haven't had enough of that!

Photography is not alone in being an arena full of beliefs -- much of which is just opinion sold as fact.  Decades ago, I learned from Dr. Richard Henry's book, "Controls in Black and White Photography" (1983, 1986), to always run your own tests -- don't simply believe what some photographer or author or guru says.  So I do.

I use UV filters on all of my lenses.  The only time I take them off is when I want to avoid vignetting when using additional filters.  My main reason for using them is to protect the front glass of my lenses, but they are also important in keeping my lenses clean.  Dust is everywhere, and I never mind cleaning an easily replaced UV filter, instead of wearing out/scratching the coating on my lenses.

It's so easy to trash this "filters are bad" opinion.  Just take a test shot with and without any filter.  YOU BE THE JUDGE.

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