Maybe you shouldn't be using that cheapo

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 07, 2005

Maybe you shouldn't be using that cheapo UV filter on your camera.

Reader comments

AmyFeb 07, 2005 at 5:50PM

The B&W MRC KR 1.5 Skylight or B&W UV 010 are both excellent filters that offer protection. HOYA PRO has some good ones too. But I think the theory is correct. It makes no sense to by the best glass then put cheapo filters on the front. But if you go top of the line on the filters there will be no degradation of image quality. Personally I feel better knowing my front elements are protected.

rgFeb 07, 2005 at 6:35PM

What's a lens? I rarely use one for my pics, lately. Seriously, UV protection filters are the photographic equivalent of the 'you should buy an extended warranty' rort of electronics. 99+% of people who use a protection filter will never have it do any sort of protection. Buy a good lens and cherish it. Walk barefoot for a change.

yosefFeb 07, 2005 at 6:55PM

for several years i've been using my nikon 50mm f/1.4 with a generic UV filter, and I just replaced it with a tiffen UV. the difference in contrast and sharpness is really amazing; i never would have believed the difference it would make.

timFeb 07, 2005 at 6:58PM

I second Amy. B+W is really the only way to go, but they're not cheap (typical prices range from $50-100+). But I'd sure rather ding a $50 UV cover than a $1300 lens, and I've protected such an investment more than once with a good UV filter.

el lecheroFeb 07, 2005 at 7:26PM

After having a Tiffen UV filter save a lens from a front impact (filter shattered, lens was fine) I couldn't imagine not having a UV filter on any of my lenses. Plus some people ARE overzealous in their cleaning or whatnot and if you do happen to scratch the lens... well then you're screwed. But if you rough up your filter then you can throw it out and get a new one. I guess I'm real protective and like the idea of keeping the original lens in as pristine condition as possible.

BrianFeb 07, 2005 at 7:58PM

It's a little bit of insurance that has paid off for me more than once. Does it ever cause flare? Maybe, but I can't imagine going without one.

plemeljrFeb 07, 2005 at 11:01PM

When I'm carting around a huge 24mm Tilt-Shift lens which costs more than I could replace it with, I tend to think that a $100 filter is good insurance. But mostly I carry around an el-cheapo 50mm/1.8 which doesn't really need a filter because the lens is so cheap. I think the UV is mostly for piece of mind. Anyway, it's more fun to play around with Split-ND filters and color filters with BW film - it is amazing the difference a $30 filter can have on the photograph.

capsulFeb 07, 2005 at 11:40PM

the authors suggestion that used glass is almost always "mint" or "perfect" is misleading - i wonder what the percentage of used mint lenses had a uv filter in place since day 1... my guess is well over 50%.

TellerFeb 08, 2005 at 1:26PM

Own four lenses, 3 of them can be considered expensive. Never used protection filter, never had any problems, wipe my glass with t-shirt quite often, other times with glasses cleaning cloth. All are in perfect condition. Don't see any need for UV-filters. I'd rather buy 5 rolls of film for the same money.

Tom HouyFeb 08, 2005 at 5:03PM

If you're taking pictures of lillies in a field with butterflies fluttering around, then maybe you don't have to worry about your lens getting scratched. But depending on the circumstances, it can definitely happen. One of my Nikon lenses was damaged by gravel that hit my camera as a car went by. It's not unrealistic for someone to trip and fall, or turn around and bump their camera into something as theyre walking around taking pictures.

Depending on your situation, and your environment, if you don't need the filter, by all means, take it off. But there are certainly times when I would much rather have one on my camera as well.

This thread is closed to new comments. Thanks to everyone who responded.