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Skylight or UV filters for nature?

Sherard Cocks , Apr 19, 2002; 08:06 a.m.

Just curious which filter, Skylight/UV would better suit the needs of a nature photographer? And as a lens protector which one is suitable? I've heard many arguments on this matter?


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Douglas Herr , Apr 19, 2002; 10:46 a.m.

I've heard many arguments on this matter. I won't argue but I'll state my opinion. Whether your lens needs protection or not depends in part on the particular enviornment, the age of the lens, and the lens' manufacturer. In a sandstorm or in salt spray some protection may be a good idea, but if you leave a UV or Skylight filter on at all times you may notice increased flare or loss of contrast due to the added reflections caused by 2 additional air/glass surfaces.

At least one high-end lens maker has been using extremely tough coatings for many years, and has also been using UV-absorbing cement between the glass elements. For these lenses only the harshest enviornmental conditions are a problem. I haven't used any protective or UV filters in over 20 years (in arctic, sub-tropical, alpine and desert conditions) and the glass of my lenses is still in perfect condition.

If you do feel the need to use a UV or Skylight filter, use a good multi-coated one, not the cheap junk often pushed as part of a camera outfit. Funny, isn't it? An expensive lens that you'd be afraid of damaging doesn't need protection and filters the UV itself, while a cheap lens that you're less likely to worry about is more likely to need an expensive filter to protect it from damage.

Frank Uhlig , Apr 19, 2002; 01:16 p.m.

I think the poster's question is: what is the difference betweeen skylight and UV filter, rather than when to use which or neither.

The difference betwen shylight and UV filter is zero in my book. Two names for the same use, if not the same thing, but I may be corrected.

Todd West , Apr 19, 2002; 01:28 p.m.

Response To Skylight or UV filters for nature?

Skylights are generally slightly warmer than UV/haze filters, but the color shifts are quite small compared to say, an 81A warming filter, and vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. Either will work fine as a protection filter, though buying multicoated filters is a good idea unless you like lens flare.

See http://www.2filter.com/prices/products/Skylight1.html for some exaggerated examples and also the FAQ section at the same website.

Lee Shively , Apr 19, 2002; 02:23 p.m.

Either one works for protection. Neither really does much otherwise. For warming, go with an 81A or 81B. There's not much need to filter UV light in normal photography. There are specialized UV filters if you really must filter UV light. I'm not much of a believer in multi-coated filters--I prefer to remove the filter when flare is a threat.

Shun Cheung , Apr 19, 2002; 02:23 p.m.

I think Skylight filters are a tiny bit warmer (reddish) than VU filters, but it probably won't make any noticable differences. In other words, practically it doesn't matter.

Gary Jean , Apr 19, 2002; 03:53 p.m.

The effect of a UV filter won't be noticed until you start shooting at high altitudes....say 7,000 - 8,000 feet and up. Most UV is already filtered out at low elevations. Up high, it will cut down on bluish cast. But then, you most likely would want an 81A anyway. Skylight filters are a very tiny bit pink.

Either one serves as a lens protector. Flare shouldn't be an issue with a good multi-coated filter, but I'd take it off when shooting backlit subjects anyway. A better lens protector is a hard lens hood.

Craig Bridge , Apr 19, 2002; 07:49 p.m.

Skylight 1A filters will do more in haze than a 1X. 1A filter characteristics differ more between manufacturers. If your going to take pictures through it, spend the money for the better brands.

Robert Kennedy , Apr 19, 2002; 11:20 p.m.

Any decent filter will protect the lens, but you need a decent filter.

Recently my sister returned, via UPS, an old FT with a 50/1.4 on it. The UV filter was on old Nikon one.

Well she packed it wrong. OWTCH! So the filter got nailed. I mean HARD! It was really hit.

One noticable thing was that the brass holding the glass onto the filter had bent and twisted. Absorbing a lot of the blow and shearing away from the harder steel of the lens. So the threads on the lens were fine. A plastic UV filter, or a very cheap one would not have done this IMNSHO. It would have just shattered and possibly caused some harm.

Just something to consider when buying a $9.00 vs a $20.00 UV filter.

John Womack , Apr 20, 2002; 12:44 a.m.

I have one of each and have used them both but only for protection. Most of my photographs are on tripod, composed over several minutes, often waiting for sunlight to be reasonable, and other things – then, just before making the picture I remove the filter or replace it with polarizer or warming filter or ND. Then I replace UV/Skylight and press on. John. http://home.eartlink.net/~pathways/

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