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Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Do you feel protected?

Should one use a protective filter at any time on all lenses?
Feelings and theories goes both ways on this topic

Some people argue that putting a piece of glass in front of a potentially very expensive, and carefully corrected, piece of glass will do nothing but deteriorate the image while there are others that considers the relatively cheap investment in a protective filter to be well worth the cost compared to how much it would cost if the front element of the lens would be accidentally scratched or damaged.

So what are these 'protective filters' and should YOU use on and should you use them on ALL of your lenses?

Well, there are a number of filters that one could consider to be predominantly there for protection. You'll find them called everything from UV, Haze to Skylight filters (the UV and Haze filters does claim to have a beneficial effect in that they correct for the sometimes bluish cast caused by UV light).
I personally have never experienced a problem with effects from UV light and it would not be the reason that I would use a protective filter.

Below is a recap of some of the more common pro's and con's you hear on this topic...:

Potential Pro's:
* Cuts down on bluish cast from UV ligh (if using UV/Haze filters)
* Could prevent accidental scratching to the front element of your lens
* Could prevent moisture and dirt from getting to your lens
* Potential cheap insurance for your more expensive lens glass

Potential Con's:
* Could degrade the image quality
* More glass means more likelihood of flaring
* Potential unneccesary cost

What do I personally do?
I belong to the "pro-protective-filter camp" (it's unfortunately too long for us to put on t-shirts...) - but with a twist...
I tend to shoot mostly b&w film. My protective filter is therefore my favorite b&w filter - the yellow-green filter (gosh I love that filter...). I really only take it off if I shoot colour film - or run out of yellow-greens for my other lenses.
I have a number of UV and Skylight filters as well and I tend to keep them on lenses that I tend to use less infrequently.

What filter brands are good?
That's a discussion entry on its own...but my personal favorite is B+W MRC filters. You really can't go wrong with them.
But apply common sense - does it make financial sense to put a $40 filter on a $30 lens to protect it? :)

So - be careful out there and remember your protection...


Anonymous john Robison said...

True story, back in the mid seventies I was a salesman at a camera store in Chicago. I sold one of our regular customers a Vivitar 400mm f5.6. He wanted some protection for that 3 inch front element and so purchased a vivitar 77mm UVa. In a week or so he comes in with a handfull of 8X10 B&W prints and they are just not sharp, I notice however that some parts of the prints just shy of inifity are in focus so I figure the lens just can't quite reach inf. We mount it up on his OM-1 and step outside. Looking at a building at least 3/4 of a mile away i can see right away the lens can't focus that far, like a dummy we send the lens back to Ponder & Best to be checked and of course they find nothing wrong. After a short head scratching sesion a light finally went on and I checked the lens without the filter, no problem, focuses fine throughout its full range. We pulled a different vivitar filter from stock and it worked fine with the lens, kinda makes you think.

November 03, 2005 5:45 PM  
Blogger RPA said...

I agree that one should always get a good filter. I have a few cheapies that I'll screw on the front of my cherihed glass, as protection during storage (especially if I don't have a cap), but for shooting I just feel better swapping to the better filter. Good post!

November 04, 2005 1:57 PM  
Blogger taffer said...

One cons Rich. Some days ago I was shooting under a light rain, it was a pretty cold night as well. I had a Nikon F2 with a 105 lens which had a UV filter on it (plus a Bessa-T with an unfiltered 35).

Well, after being out there for quite some time, I noticed that the inside of the UV filter (and the front element on the 105 as well) was completely fogged with condensation !

Probably it was due to the temp difference between the outer part of the filter and the internal one. I took it out and allowed the lens to catch the outside temp, but nothing, condensation was back after some minutes when I put the filter back in place.

So, check what happens with your filters on those dark cold rainy nights ! ;)

November 24, 2005 1:54 PM  
Blogger nordilux said...

use filters, at least on all lenses above $100.

congrats on the new blog, richard! I just found it via a post on PN. finally! :-)

December 03, 2005 9:27 PM  

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