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Thread: re-igniting the UV filter debate!

  1. #1
    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
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    re-igniting the UV filter debate!



    Steve Perry makes a video on the topic of UV filter usefulness.
    It's 18mins long, and while it's a little long .. definitely worth the watch.

    If you can't be bothered watching, the overall conclusion is that UV filters are a waste and are really only useful in very few specific conditions(as he says at the end).
    If you do watch it, note at how much impact resistance the lens has against impact!

    I mentioned it years ago when I had a broken lens I wanted to stress test .. they are very hard to break, and if you try too, you'd chicken out way before the lens gives up!
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    Who let the rabble in? Lance B's Avatar
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    I haven't used UV filters since I went digital. Best protection is your lens hood.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lance B View Post
    ..... Best protection is your lens hood.
    I can't remember using UV filters even in the film days either tho!
    Strange thing is that the best UV filter for your sensor is actually the lens itself!
    UV filtration for film was unnecessary a very long time ago, when many lenses even as far back into the 60's had very good UV attenuation.
    (this is part of the UV imaging issue in itself!)

    As for protection, a lens hood is always the best way to do so, but it doesn't help against flying debris such as rocks/stones or other projectiles.
    That's why this video is good at highlighting this point .. but the point made(in this video) is that a UV filter is actually weaker as a form of protection than is a simple piece of (copy) paper!
    Steve Perry states this himself, but doesn't really show it in the video .. where his contraption couldn't break a piece of plain paper at a set force, yet at the same force level many UV filters still shattered.

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    Ausphotography Regular swifty's Avatar
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    To each their own but I've never bought one and have never used one either and I'm happy with my position.
    I've always maintained that it is more of a protection against chemical sprays rather than impact protection. But I do understand the argument from the other side. Should there be an impact not enough to shatter a filter but enough to scratch a front element then filters might offer some protection.
    Now whether a scratched front element does much to degrade IQ is another story. I seem to remember a lensrental blog entry on just that.
    But a scratched front element does degrade the resale value though.
    Nikon FX

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    Arch-Σigmoid Ausphotography Regular ameerat42's Avatar
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    Well, I'm glad somebody's long-winded!!! He hardly stops for a breff.

    Oh boy, that ugly blue cast!
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    Ausphotography Veteran MattNQ's Avatar
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    Trust Arthur to stir everyone up again about UV filters

    I was just watching that video this morning.
    Kind of confirmed my opinions on UV filters.

    I did cringe as he smashed the lenses though - Its uncomfortable to watch - much like when Richard Hammond drove over a Mustang & Porsche with an Abrams tank in one of his TV shows
    When shooting outdoors I often have a CPL and/or hood on anyway.
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    Arch-Σigmoid Ausphotography Regular ameerat42's Avatar
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    On an issue like this there can only be opinions. I didn't watch past about 1/2 way, so... who ???s what he ended up with.
    All the way thru, though, he was hedging his statements - as he should have. So I thought, if by the middle there's no clear trend...

    For the record: I used to use UV or Skylights in the film camera days just because... [insert anything here]. I now don't - for no better reason.
    Boy, how foolish I used to be, though. Why! At any time one of those rod contraptions could have come hurtling into my lens, and then what
    would the filter do?

    Nah! You're right/wrong/neither/both/[other options might be available]

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    It's all about the Light!
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    Quote Originally Posted by arthurking83 View Post
    If you can't be bothered watching, the overall conclusion is that UV filters are a waste and are really only useful in very few specific conditions(as he says at the end).
    We could have told you that
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    Quote Originally Posted by swifty View Post
    ..... Should there be an impact not enough to shatter a filter but enough to scratch a front element then filters might offer some protection.
    .....
    If you haven't watched the vid, then what Steve Perry claims(and shows) is that the impact that can break a filter is so low that the same amount of force can't even break a piece of standard copy paper .. let alone scratch the front element of your lens.
    So comments made all over various photo related sites, where a user claims that their UV/protection filter was smashed and 'saved' their lens are misleading at best.
    The impact that smashed the UV/protection filter was 'low' enough to shatter the filter .. but almost certainly not enough to have damaged the front lens element.

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    Ausphotography Regular swifty's Avatar
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    Yes, sorry I haven't had the chance to watch it. Just anecdotally I've seen some pretty tough filters, not necessary UV ones but specifically built for impact protection. I forget the actual product name right now.
    I don't know how strong these are relative to the front element but there are so many filter to front element combinations out there such that surely there will be some filters that are strong enough not to shatter at forces that might chip or scratch some front elements.

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    I think Hoya make their HD range of filters that are super tough.
    I also recently noted that Kenko also have a super tough filter glass type too .. can't remember it tho.
    I don't think Steve Perry tested those, and only really tested the more commonly purchased cheaper types(not cheap crappy stuff .. just the cheaper end of the spectrum).

    I'm fairly sure you'll be amazed at the results of the video, especially towards the end of it where he tests impact results with the a filter on the lens, as 'supposed protection'

    Note that the lenses he used are mainly cheapo and older stuff(Canon FD's and cheap kit lenses and stuff).
    The small amount of force needed to break the filter on an old Canon 70-700 FD lens was minimal(from memory about 0.5lbs .. about 200g or so, or less) .. yet the lens itself was undamaged.
    The amount of force required to break the lens was about about 4lbs, 2kg, or so and the front lens element was basically unbroken(until a second attempt made to break it!) .. but the lens itself was damaged internally.
    The summary is that most front lens elements appear to be stronger than the combined lens itself .. where zoom mechanisms or internal lens elements seem to break more easily.
    The end result is that the front lens element is not likely to need protection as much as the lens itself is. And while the front lens element may be fine, the rest of the lens is probably trashed.

    From this, if dropping the lens is a fear, then nothing beats a well designed lens hood .. and extrapolating the data Steve Perry just collected, it has to be a flexible/pliant type to cushion the effect of the fall.

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    Ausphotography Regular swifty's Avatar
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    Just watched it and I can't say I disagree with any of his conclusions.
    But he does admit it's not all that scientific nor exhaustive.
    We don't know what the scratch point is of front elements relative to shattering point. Nor do we know characteristics of the shatter when various filters break. At least the commonly used ones as seen in the video seem to shatter into lots of pieces whereas I've seen some that crack but remain intact, like what you see in bulletproof glass or windscreens when it breaks. It shatters but not into shards but stays intact as if held together by a film.
    Again, I'll just reiterate I'm comfortable with not using it and I only use my hood but I can't discount that in some scenarios it provides some protection against cosmetic chips and scratches, plus chemicals/dirty fluids of course. I just feel the envelope of protection is too narrow to be worth the while to screw one on plus the downsides of extra costs both monetarily and possible degradation to IQ.

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    That was an interesting video to watch.
    It definitely lets you make up your mind by yourself. Beginners to photography do get fed a lot of opinions on what to do and what not to do, which can often lead them astray.
    I have often used a UV filter, but wondered why and if it is actually providing protection. I don't use one at the moment and don't use one when I have an ND filter or CIR-PL filter on.
    My photography isn't often in a situation that could be potential for lens damage, but now I might access the situation and make the decision on whether to use it or not. 90% of the time would be not to use one and just have the hood as protection.

    Thanks for the video.
    Cheers, Travis

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    Still in the Circle of Confusion Cage's Avatar
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    I would think of a UV filter, but wouldn't rush out and buy one, if I was shooting in an environment with lots of salt spray or similar, where constant cleaning was a necessity.
    Cheers
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    Ausphotography Addict Lplates's Avatar
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    I've always relied on my lens hood to protect the lens. And, to stir the pot there are a few members of our local camera club who swear by uv filters but they are all Canon shooters.
    Glenda


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    Member Fruengalli's Avatar
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    I don't use UV filters as such but the Hoya HD Protector. Supposedly 4 times stronger than regular glass, seals the L lenses at the front element & as Cage notes gives me a sacrificial surface for cleaning in harsh environments.

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    Ausphotography Regular glennb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fruengalli View Post
    I don't use UV filters as such but the Hoya HD Protector. Supposedly 4 times stronger than regular glass, seals the L lenses at the front element & as Cage notes gives me a sacrificial surface for cleaning in harsh environments.
    I as well, and Im only guessing, probably less image quality loss too with having no "UV filtering" stuff through it.
    Cheers Glenn https://www.facebook.com/glennbirchphotography/
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    Ausphotography irregular Mark L's Avatar
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    So what's the difference between cleaning the front of the lens and cleaning a piece of glass in front of the lens??

    Quote Originally Posted by Lplates View Post
    And, to stir the pot there are a few members of our local camera club who swear by uv filters but they are all Canon shooters.
    Oh dear, and I was thinking about joining my local camera club.
    "Enjoy what you can do rather than being frustrated at what you can't." bobt
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    A royal pain in the bum!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark L View Post
    So what's the difference between cleaning the front of the lens and cleaning a piece of glass in front of the lens?? ....
    Ah! one of only two real reasons(ie. that make any sense) as to why you'd want to use a protective filter on your lens.
    If you were working with limited time, the easier thing to do is to have a selection of already cleaned filter ready to go in situations where the front of the lens may get dirty with high frequency and regularity!
    So instead of wasting time cleaning anything, you just replace the filter quickly enough and keep shooting.
    The other reason for protective filters is as already said .. some lenses need a filter to complete the sealing of the lens from the elements.
    Nikkor 80-200 f/2.8 AF-D is another lens that has an open front entry into the lens itself. Dust and stuff gets in, if you don't use a filter of some sort to seal off the front of the lens.

    As for cleaning a filter as opposed to cleaning a lens .. give me a lens any day of the week to clean!
    I have a few lenses, and can't ever recall any of those lenses being hard to clean .. ever.
    OTOH, filters are(or can be) a royal pain in the bum to clean sometimes. Although in saying that I have never cleaned a UV/protective filter(I think) . all my filers are either polarisers(of some type) or ND ... or very delicate plastic grads.


    Quote Originally Posted by Lplates View Post
    ..... And, to stir the pot there are a few members of our local camera club who swear by uv filters but they are all Canon shooters.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark L View Post
    .... Oh dear, and I was thinking about joining my local camera club.
    I think there may be a possibility that you may not fit in!
    otherwise!! .. what you could do is to acquire the cheapest filter you can get your hands on .. doesn't even need to be a UV filter! ... could be anything at all.
    All it is that you actually want(to help you fit in) .... is the filter ring. So, irrespective of what the filter actually is(or if it's good or not) you would then remove the filter element which simply leaves you with a filter ring. Screw this onto your lens.
    It gives the appearance that you have a protective/UV filter on your lens, but you known that nothing could be further from the truth. Then comes the obvious question .. would the other Canon owners notice .. and how long before you'd get found out

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    Member Fruengalli's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark L View Post
    So what's the difference between cleaning the front of the lens and cleaning a piece of glass in front of the lens??

    .


    Oh dear, and I was thinking about joining my local camera club.
    Living on the coast it's a constant battle with salt & sand & I figure I'll eventually damage the lens element
    Last edited by Fruengalli; 03-09-2015 at 10:09am.

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