question about filters and IQ

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ace106
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question about filters and IQ
4 months ago

This is just a straight forward question.
Can attaching a clear protective filter soften an image or degrade image quality at all?

A salesman told me that it would have no impact on the image quality.  I'm a bit skeptical since that came from a salesman who gets commission so I figured I would get other opinions on the matter.

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Ron Poelman
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In reply to ace106, 4 months ago

Many threads here on the topic.
If you can look after your lens,don't.
If you can't, buy a half decent one.
Clarity isn't generally a problem,
but additional reflections/flare and vignetting are worth considering.

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hotdog321
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Re: question about filters and IQ
In reply to ace106, 4 months ago

ace106 wrote:

This is just a straight forward question.
Can attaching a clear protective filter soften an image or degrade image quality at all?

A salesman told me that it would have no impact on the image quality. I'm a bit skeptical since that came from a salesman who gets commission so I figured I would get other opinions on the matter.

The top of the line protective filters, like from B+W, are excellent and have very little effect on the IQ. The cheap stuff definitely degrades the image.

I'm a photojournalist and 99.9% of the time I do not use a filter. I've been active for over 30 years and find that a hard lens hood provides all the protection a lens will ever need, plus they minimize lens flare.

I do use a filter at the beach, in the blowing rain, shooting sandblasting, etc., but that's it.

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Aletheia
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Re: question about filters and IQ
In reply to ace106, 4 months ago

A filter can only have negative effects on image quality.  Those effects may well be very small in most circumstances, and they may be quite obvious in others, but another two glass surfaces can only harm image quality.  Sometimes, in very specific cases, the protective function will actually be useful, but I never use a filter unless I have a  specific reason to do so.  And I know I'm not helping image quality while it's on the lens.

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Mako2011
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In reply to ace106, 4 months ago

ace106 wrote:

This is just a straight forward question.
Can attaching a clear protective filter soften an image or degrade image quality at all?

Been debated many times...truth is yes sometimes, especially if a poor quality one. Also the case that a good quality one can be near impossible to notice. Here for example only one of the pics had a clear filter on and the rest taken with nothing over the lens. Note how hard it can be to tell. All taken in ambient sun light with a tripod no PP

A salesman told me that it would have no impact on the image quality. I'm a bit skeptical since that came from a salesman who gets commission so I figured I would get other opinions on the matter.

He's right, for the most part, when it's a high quality one. Lens flare can be an issue though, but even that can be well controlled with a good quality filter. Another example:  Only one of these pics had a filter on

Better to know what they are good for and when they can help and when they can be problematic. In other words...use one when it really can help and take it off when it might be detrimental. For example, with my Nikon 16-35 f4 lens (due to how it functions), a clear filter can greatly reduce dust/pollen from getting in. When shooting bright lights at night, I might take the filter off, unless it's pollen season.

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Futax
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Re: question about filters and IQ
In reply to ace106, 4 months ago

As others have said, if you get a good quality filter, it'll be very hard to tell the difference in the final image- even pixel-peeping with a high quality lens/camera. That's assuming the scene doesn't have a flare problem; a filter can only exacerbate any flare, so it's essential to choose one which has good quality multicoating. You can get an idea of how various filters perform by looking here:

http://www.lenstip.com/113.1-article-UV_filters_test.html

Finally, beware of counterfeit filters: it's very easy for cheap filters to masquerade as the decent stuff, so you MUST buy from a reputable dealer.  And even then, it's probably worth doing a few test shots to confirm you're getting zero negative effect on image quality.  (If you get a dodgy filter, it'll usually be all too apparent in the final image.)

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sshoihet
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Re: question about filters and IQ
In reply to ace106, 4 months ago

ace106 wrote:

This is just a straight forward question.
Can attaching a clear protective filter soften an image or degrade image quality at all?

A salesman told me that it would have no impact on the image quality. I'm a bit skeptical since that came from a salesman who gets commission so I figured I would get other opinions on the matter.

Yes it can. Will it?  Depends on the situations you shoot in.

I shoot into the sun a lot and at night with bright lights and it almost always causes an issue for me.  On top of that, I have quite a few lenses and good UV/clear filters aren't that cheap so for the price of some filters, i could probably replace 1 or 2 front elements if i happened to seriously damage them.

I always use a lens hood and cap the lens when i'm not actually taking a photo; I find that's sufficient protection unless maybe i'm shooting in mud or have water spray that i need to be constantly wiping off the front element.

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bosjohn21
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Re: question about filters and IQ
In reply to ace106, 4 months ago

this has been debated pro and con since I joined dpreview in 08 or so. For all practical purposes no it won't degrade your image in any noticeable way. Theoretically it is introducing two more glass to air surfaces to increase flare and decrease contrast, A well made filter should have little or no effect on sharpness.

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Graham Meale
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Re: question about filters and IQ
In reply to ace106, 4 months ago

A filter must degrade the image, just as an elephant becomes heavier when you put a feather on its back. With a good quality filter the degradation is so minuscule that in 99.9% of situations it doesn't matter. Have a read of this

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MisterBG
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Re: question about filters and IQ
In reply to ace106, 4 months ago

ace106 wrote:

This is just a straight forward question.
Can attaching a clear protective filter soften an image or degrade image quality at all?

A salesman told me that it would have no impact on the image quality. I'm a bit skeptical since that came from a salesman who gets commission so I figured I would get other opinions on the matter.

Before you make any decisions, this is very interesting:

http://lensesforhire.blogspot.co.uk/2014/07/smashing-fun-with-filters.html

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Truthiness
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In reply to ace106, 4 months ago

ace106 wrote:

This is just a straight forward question.
Can attaching a clear protective filter soften an image or degrade image quality at all?

Yes. You add two extra air-glass-surfaces to the optical path. Depending on the quality of the filter there will be a tiiny little more or a lot more reflections. Wether they are an issue to you is a different question. A good quality filter causes only minute changes not visible at all under most conditions.

When I touched SLRs for the first time, I used UV filter for protection, but since the only they they ever did to me was cost money, I didtched the practise. Now I would only use any kind of extra filter for protection if the environment hazards would be such that using one would be advisable (like sand flying in the air).

A salesman told me that it would have no impact on the image quality.

Salesman's job is to see products, not to tell the absolute truth, or even to have a clue.

I'm a bit skeptical since that came from a salesman who gets commission so I figured I would get other opinions on the matter.

Never trust salesmen. Never trust advertisements.

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Mahmoud Mousef
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Re: question about filters and IQ
In reply to ace106, 4 months ago

most noticeable degradation of image at night with lights, in my experience. Though I wouldn't be without one. I'm still upset I can't put one on my camcorder or teleconverter lens. No filter threads on both.

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AlphaTikal
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Re: question about filters and IQ
In reply to ace106, 4 months ago

A good filter will not decrease wuality in the sense of resolution and sharpness. But overall image quality is or can be touched, in the sense of vignetting and flares. My filters are expensive and deliver good quality. But thei suffer from flares, especially long shutters in the night.

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Sir Canon
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Re: question about filters and IQ
In reply to ace106, 4 months ago

keep it clean and make sure its a good filter made by a good company like tiffen or heliopan. then it'l be fine. this page is pretty helpful: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/explora/photography/buying-guides/filters-lenses

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scorrpio
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Re: question about filters and IQ
In reply to ace106, 4 months ago

A poor quality clear filter significantly degrades your image quality, has a fairly negligible impact on your wallet, and provides zero benefit.

A high quality clear filter has negligible impact on your image quality, significantly degrades your wallet contents, and provides zero benefit.

The sales guy will likely make 5x more selling you the filter than selling you the lens.  Keep that in mind.

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Sir Canon
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Re: question about filters and IQ
In reply to scorrpio, 4 months ago

yes but a shattered front element costs way more.

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Peter Jonas
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Re: Filters can offer benefits.
In reply to scorrpio, 4 months ago

scorrpio wrote:

A poor quality clear filter significantly degrades your image quality, has a fairly negligible impact on your wallet, and provides zero benefit.

A high quality clear filter has negligible impact on your image quality, significantly degrades your wallet contents, and provides zero benefit.

This really does sound very smart, if one doesn't let the facts get in the way of creating a nice expression.

Filters can have benefits.

I would not necessarily consider protecting the front element from impact damage one of them, but if you are in such environment it will do good service in protectig your lens from the effects of heavy smoke, dust, grime, grease, sand, sticky fingers, wet pet noses and the like.

A family BBQ or a trip to the beach are almost inevitably such environments.

Yes, you have to be aware of fake items being sold mainly online, and yes, the dealer will attempt ro make good money on this item. Buyer beware.

Most of the time I will make a reasonable effort to find the item with the best price/performance ratio. In this instance I have settled on using Nikon NC or Hoya Super SMC Pro1 filters when appropriate.

Your mileage may vary.

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AlphaTikal
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Re: question about filters and IQ
In reply to scorrpio, 4 months ago

About what filters are you speaking? Nd filters and polarizing filters are useful.
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Mako2011
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UV too
In reply to AlphaTikal, 4 months ago

AlphaTikal wrote:

About what filters are you speaking? Nd filters and polarizing filters are useful.

UV protective filters can be useful too, even on digital, in special cases. Did a lot of high altitude shots above 18,000 and found that a good UV filter did help in those cases. Added a bit of better contrast. Might be a body filter combination thing.

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AlphaTikal
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Re: UV too
In reply to Mako2011, 4 months ago

Maybe on old lenses?
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