filters on your lenses – when they actually help you

when a filter on your lens actually gets to protect your lens

.. and this, ladies and gentlemen, is why using a UV filter on your lens is a good idea.

The strange thing is, I have NO idea when this happened during a shoot at a reception venue where I was doing room shots and detail shots. Most of the times I was using two cameras, with the other one slung over my shoulder. At some point I lifted the camera to my eye and noticed rainbow colored diffraction patterns across the image. My immediate reaction was .. huh? My lens is THAT dirty? And then I checked and saw the actual damage.

Whatever caused that impact would’ve destroyed the front element of my lens, so the filter saved me a lot of money there by protecting my lens. (Even then, the filter cost around $110 .. ouch!) Btw, this was with the lens hood in place.

The downside to using a UV filter as a permanent fixture on a lens, is that you risk flare and ghosting whenever the light is coming from the front. A lens hood doesn’t cover all that much when you’re using a wide zoom. A poor grade filter will also lower the contrast of your images.

There is no definitive answer to the endless discussions about the pros and cons of using a UV filter (or similar) in front of a lens – it’s a good idea sometimes, and sometimes it isn’t a good idea. Personally, I use high quality UV filters on all my lenses, but I often have to remove the filter when I am shooting into a light source or suspect I am getting flare. But that’s the beauty of a filter – you can always take it off momentarily if you need to.


recommended filters: polarizers

Aside from UV filters for protection, I would also recommend a polarizer filter. They are great for minimizing glare and to saturate colors again.

9 Comments, Add Your Own

  1. 1Matthias says

    Dropped one of my lenses too recently.
    I would never use a lens without a bit of extra protection.

  2. 4Dale Moreau says

    I am not sure that I agree with your assumption that similar damage to your front element would have occured.

    The front element is significantly different in composition to a very thin unsupported filter. I had a similar event a few years ago with a filter covered 17mm. But it didn’t convince me to continue using them. I don’t use any protection filters on any of my lenses.

    What would have happened if the broken filter glass had etched the surface of the lens?

    lenses are fairly robust and easily insured. Flare just plain sucks and is not worth the risk.


  3. 5Marty says

    Used this filter on a Fuji Digital E 900 for about 2200 shots in China last April/May with results as good as possible in those conditions. Much better than what everyone else got without a filter. Moved to a G9 a couple of weeks ago and have been testing one on it. Can not get it to take a shot that is worse with it, or a shot showing flare. Going to test it against = Tiffens and Hoya as soon as they arrive but can’t imagine shooting without.

  4. 6Matt says

    I used the same B&W filter on my 17-55mm lens. Turbulence in an aircraft caused it to shatter. Now my lens coating is a bit damaged as a result.

    On the other hand, I’d much rather clean a filter than the lens front element…

  5. 7Alex 007 says


    I always fit a UV MC filter for more of 3 decades, as just acquired a D-300 with a VR 18-200mm travel zoom lens…decided to try the newer Hoya Pro-1 Digital UV MC filter 72mm size…it’s an a ultra thin both sides MC…(Very difficulty to see the MC coating…maybe it’s something very special…who knows?). I noticed an a huge improvement, among my previously Hama C-14 UV filters that I always brought.

    As I live in Israel, here it’s an a very dusty area…so I’m 100% sure; that a high quality UV filter used as a front lens element protector is very recommended!.



  6. 9Ray says

    Any protecton to your Lense is better than no extra protection at all. And” As already poiunted out by Billy that you can always remove it temp when wanting to shoot without one. I find the UV Filter a must in a Country with lots of high radiation levels UV and so on let alone keeping dust and Sea Water mist off as well.
    It has it’s good uses and i am all for them”
    It’s a choice thing of course”
    Cheers” Ray

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