Newbie Lens Care clarifications

Started Nov 28, 2011 | Discussions thread
Michael Fryd
Senior MemberPosts: 1,683
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Re: Newbie Lens Care clarifications
In reply to neilgc, Dec 4, 2011

neilgc wrote:

...

Paying 75$ for a Hoya multicoated HD filter may be a wise precaution if you are camping, hiking through brush, taking pictures in the rain or photographing a car rally in swirling dust with your Canon 17-55mm or 24-105mm lens costing > 1000$

It's not always a wise choice.

Lens like the Canon 24-105mm lens are built with dust and moisture resistant construction. An O-ring seals the lens against the lens mount and numerous seals around the lens’ moving components provide protection against the ingress of dust and moisture. It's not obvious that adding a filter to the front of this lens provides noticeable additional protection.

What is clear, is that rain and swirling dust in the air tend to reduce image contrast. Dust in the air reduces contrast and water droplets in the air can reflect light from out-of-frame sources. Some photographers like to increase the odds of getting a good image by using techniques that maximize image quality. These frequently include using high quality lenses, and minimizing filter use.

It turns out that the situations where one needs the most protection, are frequently the situations where one also needs to maximize image quality. There is no magic bullet that solves this dilemma.

Some would choose the filter. Some would choose no filter. Some would choose to use a cheaper lens and no filter (in some situations a cheap lens with no filter will give better results than a good lens with a filter).

...

Taking a photo directly into the sun or a bright light source is likely to result in flare; in some cases this may be increased by leaving a filter on the lens

Yes, there are many situations that promote flare, many are not as obvious as these (for instance shooting against a bright white background). Factors that affect flare include the lens used, the lens hood, and any filters being used.

Use of a lens hood and use of a filter are a very easy factors to control.

If a photographer is getting flare, I don't suggest they change the lighting as the first step. I would suggest that he start by adding a lens hood. In fact since there are almost no drawbacks to using a hood, I usually suggest that the hood remain on all the time. Even though the benefit is usually small.

I don't suggest that they leave the hood off, unless they see noticeable flare, and then add the hood.

People need to look at all the factors. Lens hoods are almost always helpful, and rarely have a down side. Therefore I think that most situations warrant their use.

With filters, the considerations are the same. I don't suggest that people remove them only when flare is an expected problem. I suggest that people only use filters when the specific benefits of the filter clearly outweigh the disadvantages.

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