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Cameras, Lenses and Accessories: Discuss To filter, or not to filter, that is the question.........Well, I did a photography course last year at college. The tutor there advised us not to use any filters ...
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Old 20-06-2012, 20:44   #1 (permalink)
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To filter, or not to filter, that is the question......

Well, I did a photography course last year at college. The tutor there advised us not to use any filters unless it was to apply an effect (ie polariser). His argument was that Mr Nikon and Mr Canon spent millions in research and design to ensure the lens was the best it could possibly be......and then we go and stick a lump of £20 plastic and glass in front of it. I can see where he is coming from to be honest.
But then I have just spent a couple of days on an RPS course, and the tutor there said he always had a UV or skylight filter on the lens, just for protection....and I can see where he is coming from too.
So, who uses one, what do you use and why? and who doesnt use one, and why not? I have to be honest and let you all know that this morning I put UV filters on all my lenses, and this afternoon, I took them off again! Cant I make a decision?.....well, yes and no.....
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Old 20-06-2012, 21:26   #2 (permalink)
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Re: To filter, or not to filter, that is the question......

This debate is as old as they have been making filters You'll no doubt find many threads about it, even on Pixalo and they'll include my reply which is.......I don't use them with the exception of NDs and Grads which I put on for a purpose and then remove. Why? I subscribe to your tutor's opinion.

Some people will say they use them for protection well that's what I use lens hoods for. That's my twopenneth and some will say the opposite but that's what makes the world go round.
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Old 20-06-2012, 22:12   #3 (permalink)
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Re: To filter, or not to filter, that is the question......

I've seen these arguments over and over.

I was out with a friend two weeks ago in a disused brewery where we had to climb over all sorts of debris to get the shots we wanted. My friend stumbled on something and his lens which had a hood on slammed straight into a bit of rusty ironwork sticking out of a door.
Luckily the half inch long scratch was on his filter and not his Canon lens.

I buy the best quality filters I can afford Hoya HD pro and keep them on all the time. They protect the lenses I can't afford to replace.

I can't see any difference in image quality with or without them so I'll stick with the extra protection.
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Old 20-06-2012, 22:22   #4 (permalink)
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Re: To filter, or not to filter, that is the question......

Quote:
and then we go and stick a lump of £20 plastic and glass in front of it
Horses for courses. In safe environments (studio or interiors) a filter could be removed and the chances of something nasty happening to your lens is remote.

Shoot a car rally or motorcycle scramble or as Helgrrr says an outdoor jaunt into the unknown, and a filter can be considered an essential lens protector.

Trick is not to buy the £20 ones from e-bay. Lee, B&W and others will not degrade your images.
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Old 20-06-2012, 22:53   #5 (permalink)
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Re: To filter, or not to filter, that is the question......

My filters are nearly all Hoya, and only used for minutes at a time without being taken outside due to indecision!
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Old 20-06-2012, 22:59   #6 (permalink)
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Re: To filter, or not to filter, that is the question......

I use a filter as I go anywhere that is required to get a photograph, looking at some of the crud that gets on the filter at times I'm pleased I occasionally have to buy a new filter rather than a lens. Theory is one thing - practical photography is another
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Old 21-06-2012, 07:50   #7 (permalink)
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Re: To filter, or not to filter, that is the question......

yep i use them,. i scratched the front element of my canon 10-22 with my fingernail. taking a cokin adapter off. THATS how easily they scratch., i dont have them on every lens but how much is one clean thin bit of glass going to effect the image quality after it has been processed etc etc...... you have to apply sharpening et all anyway to raw images.
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Old 21-06-2012, 08:49   #8 (permalink)
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Re: To filter, or not to filter, that is the question......

I use screw on filters too, just lately I have been trying out one of my lenses without any protection glass (filters) fitted to the lens, and yes the lens works better, but you would have to look very close at the results to see the difference. But once that front element is marked its there for ever, but after saying that I once owned a 85mm with a tiny chip in the front element, I bought it that way very cheap and I had that lens for many years it was one of my best portrait lenses that I ever had........
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Old 21-06-2012, 15:00   #9 (permalink)
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Re: To filter, or not to filter, that is the question......

I use a good B&W with a metal ring, pictures all look the same until I start shooting around the sun. I've had peanut butter and mashed up plants, direct crashs while locked on a tripod with the UV taking the hit,,,all these took it on the chin and I still use them. I have had to replace two from deep scratches. I just ran over the corner of one my extra bags with the car, this one was stiff sided and goes on the back of my bike. It had a camera body and three lenses, the one that got pinched by the tire was an L class lens a UV and plastic flair cover with the lens cap on the lens. It cracked the plastic flair cover and put a chip out of the uv fliter but the lens didn't receive any damage,,,what a lucky duck I was,,,,always use them no matter what. If I take it off for a picture that might get a flair of light,,,I put it back on right after.
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Old 21-06-2012, 17:37   #10 (permalink)
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Re: To filter, or not to filter, that is the question......

I always use good quality skylight on all lenses, I find it makes no difference to image quality. I ran a few tests some time ago taking the same picture with and without filter and there was no difference. Another time i was out and slipped and fell on a steep slope I went one way, broke my arm and my camera with a 24-105 Canon L lens flew in th opposite direction into the mud. I had to spend two days in hospital to get a pin in my arm and all the camera required was to unscrew the B&W filter and wash it under the tap, without the filter the front of the lens would have been damaged without doubt.
So pay your money and take your choice.

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Old 21-06-2012, 21:50   #11 (permalink)
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Re: To filter, or not to filter, that is the question......

Some interesting points. I think it may well pay to use a good quality filter when out and about for lens protection and for effects. I dont think I will use one in the studio.
Thanks for all your comments and advice. Its one of those debates that will run and run, everyone has their own point of view, and most seem equally valid.
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Old 23-06-2012, 08:52   #12 (permalink)
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Re: To filter, or not to filter, that is the question......

I always used to use a UV filter, started with Hoya pro one's but moved onto B+W.

I remember the first job a did for the local paper........it was a cold frosty sunny December morning and I was sent to get a rugby team photo.

I set up manual exposure and waited for everyone to get in position, then when I looked through the view finder it had misted up between the glass and filter. It was a bit of a panic at first to get the filter off as it was pretty tight.

From then on I have removed all my filters and happily work without them.
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Old 23-06-2012, 11:10   #13 (permalink)
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Re: To filter, or not to filter, that is the question......

tutor is right IMO,. filter (no matter how expensive) will have an effect on the image,. perhaps not noticeable in all cases but depending on lighting conditions it can cause an issue

the most important thing for lenses is to use a lens hood,. it will make a large difference in many lighting situations as it stops the sun / light hitting the front of the lens at strange angles which will cause a real loss of contrast,. using a lens hood not only is a good idea from image point of view it will be the first thing hit when you knock the lens into something (and I think is a better protection for the front element)
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Old 23-06-2012, 13:05   #14 (permalink)
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Re: To filter, or not to filter, that is the question......

It must be a personal choice based on your own habits and type of photography; there is no right and wrong answer which applies to everyone. I have just come back from holiday and noticed many photographers walking around with no lens hood and lens cap. If you do this, you risk damaging the lens/filter in some environments. On the other hand, I always leave the lens cap on when not actually taking photographs and almost always use a lens hood so no risk of damage and thus I do not use a filter normally. I do carry a UV filter which I could put on in risky environments but I have not found it necessary yet.

The problem with filters is that they can cause unwanted flare and this is not always readily visible but it may a significant reduction in contrast. Any situation where there is a light source in front of the lens (though not in frame) is a high risk for reduced image quality if a filter is used.

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Old 24-06-2012, 09:26   #15 (permalink)
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Re: To filter, or not to filter, that is the question......

Film has always been better than digital.

Oops! Sorry, wrong thread!

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Old 24-06-2012, 18:07   #16 (permalink)
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Re: To filter, or not to filter, that is the question......

If your outside I'd say filter (CPF or grad) indoor control with lighting. But as Dave says above its personal choice.
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Old 25-06-2012, 13:47   #17 (permalink)
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Re: To filter, or not to filter, that is the question......

The only filters i use or Hoya for protecting the lens but take it off before i shoot reason why if i have to use a filter it is only 1 piece then in front of the lens, use 2 Lee 150x100 Nd grads but if your smart because of the length of them you can also use as Nd,s & B+W 10 stop.
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Old 07-07-2012, 22:06   #18 (permalink)
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Re: To filter, or not to filter, that is the question......

Good question. I'm inclined to be a bit clumsy, so I prefer the filter ON option.

On holiday in Oz 2 years ago, about to go shooting pictures of the kids surfing with my Canon 100-300 on camera, and camera round neck on strap. Leaned forward in car park, camera executed perfect arc swinging form neck and the end of lens cracked the floor. Result: shot a lot of pictures sans polarising filter (yes I know the discussion was skylight?UV etc) and bought a new one in Brosbine - with no filter on the lens, may well have been four hundred quid plus out of pocket, no telephoto lens (or add a lot more dosh) time spent hunting a lens etc...

If I did studio/indoor work I would probably trust myself more but right now it adds a comfort factor.

NB I always regretted not having a filter on my old favourite lens - a Tamron 135mm F4 (I think) - from my 35mm days but that said, it returned great results till the day I traded it in, scratches and all.
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Old 07-07-2012, 23:43   #19 (permalink)
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Re: To filter, or not to filter, that is the question......

Thanks for all your thoughts on the filter issue, its seems the debate will run and run.
As a little aside, I was on a shoot in a forest today with a model who was new to the job. I demonstrated a pose lying on a log, foolishly with my camera and flash around my neck (I know I know) I reclined elegantly, and elegantly rolled off the log. It was a soft landing for me, but not so soft for my flash, which snapped off at the hotshoe mount. Unusually for me, I had popped a UV filter on just in case, as I was shooting outdoors and it took a bucketfull of forest floor without any damage but it saved the lens getting that much muck thrown at it.
So the lesson is, a filter wont save your flash, but taking the camera off and putting it somewhere safe when your climbing through the forest might.....it doesnt preserve your dignity with a model either...
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Old 08-07-2012, 10:27   #20 (permalink)
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Re: To filter, or not to filter, that is the question......

I used to use filters to protect the lens but rarely do so now and mainly the macro as that tends to get dragged through the undergrowth a bit - almost always with lens hood and nearly always with lens cap if not on the camera

Same philisophy with other filters: have CP and variable ND but none others (I rely on bracketting and blending to deal with extremes of lighting)
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Old 15-07-2012, 08:13   #21 (permalink)
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To filter, or not to filter, that is the question......

I don't use permanent screw in filters anymore.

I was taking them on and off so often to clean I decided to stop.

In actual fact the only thing I've ever scratched was a filter when I dropped it with cold hands on a beach.
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