Can a quality clear filter improve an image?

Started 5 months ago | Questions thread
Michael Fryd
Senior MemberPosts: 1,612
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Re: Can a quality clear filter improve an image?
In reply to Elandreth, 5 months ago

Elandreth wrote:

...

Actually, I looked that up before, and it's partly what led me to post this thread. In the first paragraph, B+W says "This optically clear filter does not affect the overall image quality". But then in the second paragraph, B+W says "It helps to increase light transmission".

So does the filter help to increase light transmission and improve the image? Or are they just saying the MRC coating increases light transmission relative to other filters, meaning it degrades an image less than those other filters?

It "increases light transmission" compared to lower quality filters.

It does not "increase light transmission" compared to no filter at all.

In terms of flare, contrast, sharpness, etc. A filter does not improve image quality.  The goal is typically to find a filter good enough that the degradation is so small that it can be ignored.

A polarizing filter can have an overall positive effect.  The ability to selectively remove polarized reflections may be worth the loss of contrast or the additional flare.

To be fair, sharpness, contrast, and lack of flare are not the only measures of an image.  Some images benefit from lower contrast, flare, or lack of sharpness.   JJ Abrams had people assigned to shine lights into his cameras to add flare when filming Star Trek.  Traditionally photographers have been known to smear Vaseline onto filters to reduce sharpness for portraits.

So while clear filters never increase "image quality" they may make the result a "better" image.

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