Do you use a UV filter as protection?

Started 7 months ago | Discussions thread
sean000 Veteran Member • Posts: 7,685
Re: Almost Never, but I use lens hoods. Also use polarizers at times

nosiesta wrote:


What's the current thinking on using a decent UV filter to protect the lens outer element?

I always have in the past but just picked up a new lens and am debating it now. Obviously the quality of the lens is only going to be as good as the filter glass it's shooting through.

I do a lot of rock climbing so the chance of a scratch is higher than normal.

In the past I've always gone for a B+W UV (never a Skylight). Hoods add bulk and are faff (yep, I know they held with contrast and flare etc)


I don't know that the current thinking has changed... just the same old arguments for and against, all of which have their valid points.

I use lens hoods almost all the time, except for with my 20mm f/1.7 pancake. Hoods provide some physical protection, in addition to reducing flare. I'm a big believer that a lens hood is a necessity for getting the most contrast and clarity out of a lens, but I get why they might be a pain in some situations like rock climbing.

Without a lens hood I would probably feel better having a protective filter on the lens. I have been in many situations where I had the camera slung over my shoulder and only the lens hood prevented the front of the lens from colliding with an obstacle that could have possibly scratched or cracked the glass. I feel like it's more likely with big pro lenses that have large front elements.

I have owned over a couple dozen lenses in the last 15 years (mostly Nikon and m4/3) and I've sold many of them. Despite almost never using a UV filter I have never had a crack or a scratch (knock on wood). I once bought a lens that came with a UV filter that I left on for awhile. It was a good UV filter (don't remember... maybe Hoya?) and in my tests it did not affect image quality in most situations. Sometimes it would reduce contrast/clarity a bit. I kept it to use in situations like shooting at the beach, but I never bothered to buy UV filters for my other lenses. But again, I do use hoods and I'm careful when cleaning my lenses. I also ALWAYS put the cap on before putting away my camera or lens in my bag. I know a lot of people who don't do this and are in the habit of putting their cameras/lenses into bags without the cap on. That can be a problem if something else in the bag (sand or grit in the bag... or another piece of gear) rubs against the glass. I get the convenience though, and for that use case a clear filter would be a good idea. It's also a good idea if you shoot in places where the lens is going to get really dirty.

In short: I don't think it hurts most of the time, but there may be some situations where it reduces image quality slightly. Perhaps more if you don't have a lens hood, because the hood helps reduce flare and the filter may do just the opposite in the right lighting. That said you will be glad you have it if you take more risks with your gear than most.

EDIT: I do use filters for other purposes: Especially polarizers (which prove that in some situations a filter can increase contrast and reduce flare), Neutral Density filters, and graduated ND filters.

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Olympus E-M1 II Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 9-18mm F4.0-5.6 Panasonic Lumix G 20mm F1.7 ASPH Samyang 7.5mm F3.5 Fisheye Olympus 12-40mm F2.8 Pro +6 more
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