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filters for lens protection?

Nathan Jones , May 08, 2006; 03:44 a.m.

Gday all

quick question. If I were to buy a UV filter for a lense protector could I leave it on all the time? say even at night, or would it dramatically effect results.

whats the best way to go about protecting the lense up front there?



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Alan Chan , May 08, 2006; 04:02 a.m.

The best way of protection the front element is to use a lens hood, plastic or metal. Using a high quality multicoated UV will not degrade the image quality in anyway, however, it will be more likely to flare in some situations, that's all. If you must buy one, consider HOYA HMC SUPER UV(0).

Stefan T. , May 08, 2006; 04:03 a.m.

A UV filter should not have dramatical effects as it only filters out UV light, but if you have a non-mc filter your system becomes prone to flare. If you want a filter for protection you should buy the best you could get, which is usually expensive. Personally I only use (if at all) protection filters at the beach and this is too seldom :-( Under "normal" conditions I'd say you don't need it.


David Henderson , May 08, 2006; 04:29 a.m.

If you leave a filter on the lens all the time then you increase the risk of vignetting when you add a further effects filter such as a warm-up or a polariser. You may have to take it off when you use one or more other filters.

Combined with the increased risk of flare, this convinces me not to fit filters as protection but to use cheaper and more durable lens caps instead- albeit that it doesn't protect whilst actually in use.

Mark Anthony Kathurima , May 08, 2006; 05:57 a.m.

I did a wedding shoot once with two bodies. Both had UV filters on. My main camera (with my favourite lens on it) slipped off my shoulder as I crouched to pick up something. It fell on gravel. Hard stuff. The UV filter shattered to bits but the lens and cap were in perfect condition (after carefully cleaning the glass fragments)

After that potential disaster, you'd have to point a gun at my head to make me take the UV filter off the front of my lens. Go figure ;)


Skip Douglas , May 08, 2006; 07:01 a.m.

A properly designed lens hood will provide FAR BETTER "crash" protection than a filter ever could. The reason is simple. A lens hood will take time to collapse under the forces of the crash, minimizing the peak forces that get transferred to the lens (and thus to the camera, assuming the lens hits first). A filter ring is not compressable, and thus transfers ALL of the force to the lens instantaneously.

In addition - the better Canon lenses have hoods that mount to the body of the lens, not to the inner workings of the lens. If you do not have a hood mounted, but depend on a filter to absorb crash energy, you are risking MUCH more damage to the lens than if you have the hood mounted.

Now - as to filters themselves - the ONLY time that a filter for "protection" makes any sense is when you are shooting in a really nasty environment like when sand is blowing all around and would damage any glass surface in its way.

Mark Anthony Kathurima , May 08, 2006; 08:02 a.m.

Allow me to clarify here. I have the Canon lens hood on my aforementioned 28-105. On that fateful day, I hadn't yet attached it. It was still 'inverted' for earier storage, and I hadn't yet started shooting.

Of course from a Physics point of view, a lens hood is far better protection and would have likely saved me having to buy a new UV filter, but I'm just saying OMHO there's really no harm in leaving the UV filter on.

I'm in Kenya, and it is often dry and dusty, so mine stays on in any case...

Edward Ingold , May 08, 2006; 10:12 a.m.

A lens hood certainly provides a lot of protection to the lens, but not from flying sand or gravel (I've had kids throw stuff, cars toss gravel, sand flying in the wind, etc). Nor does an hood protect you from spray. Spots from tap water (lawn sprinklers) and salt water are hard to remove. A short hood for a wide-angle lens offers little mechanical protection. It's not always convenient (or you forget) to replace the lens cap when you put the lens in the bag. I've scratched a lot of filters that way, instead of the front element.

Making a long story short, I keep a clear filter (UV, if you wish) on all my lenses, all the time. If I need to use another filter, like a polarizer, I first remove the clear filter. Likewise if I need to avoid flare, as a night shot with streelights or shooting into the sun. I also use a lens hood, even indoors or at night.

Erick Kyogoku , May 08, 2006; 10:27 a.m.

Another vote for using a UV MC filter. I've had too much experience where a lens hood has been just worthless in protecting the front element. The lens hood certainly helps, but it shouldn't be used as a substitute for a UV filter. There are cases when I take the UV filter off, often when doing tripod work in clean environments. But go to the ocean and use your lens with that lens hood and when the sea spray has caked your front element you'll have wished you'd employed that filter. I mostly shoot travel photography and except for the occasions when I remove the filter for certain shots (if I have to shoot contre jour for example) the UV filter stays on. When I use another filter such as a polarizer or ND grad, I remove the UV. I've thrown away several UV filters over time because they get dirty, and each time I discard them examine how dirty they've become, and feel content that I used them rather than only a hood. If you're shooting in a studio or a vacuum, you probably don't need the filter, but in the real world it's a smart thing to have.

Erick Kyogoku , May 08, 2006; 10:32 a.m.

Ah, and one more thing -- a lens hood won't protect your lens from the wet nose of an animal or the soiled fingers of a child. I'm all for using lens hoods but they provide only partial protection. A hood and UV filter complement each other and using them is just smart.

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