Beginner How to protect Lens - Filters or Not

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#1
Hi

I’m going to open up the age old debate should I put protection filters on my lens.

All my lens will be used both indoors and outdoors. I have a general tendency to put protection on most of my tech.

So I’m thinking do I buy protection filters for my lens - some will be used on hikes so weather and elements can be variable

I’m new to all this. Also what lens cleaning kit is good I see loads on amazon and eBay bu they could be bad Chinese stuff or they could be bad so don’t want to buy something just based on price and content

Thanks
 

Nod

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#2
I don't unless I think there'll be a lot of airborne debris and/or spray. I do always use the lens hood, both as protection and to reduce the risk of flare.

I use a lens pen to get rid of water marks and fingerprints after using the soft brush on the other end to dispose of any dust. Very occasionally use a drop of isopropyl alcohol on a little paper swab. Cheap as chips and very effective.
 
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Jonathan Fussell
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#3
I can't say I have ever seen a reason it does any harm to use one with the exception of some fringe case's.

I purchased a camera for my mother a few years ago to use when out & about. Got a filter to protect the front and now her pictures are coming out a little milky looking. When inspecting her filter it's covered with small pits in the glass. The lens underneath is perfectly fine so it did the job of protecting it. This is an extreme sample, she lives in Caithness on the north coast, the wind just never stops and clearly this is damage from her using it near the sand that blows through the town she lives in.

Hope that helps.

Edit: Very pleased with B+W brand filters for my camera.

Jon
 
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#4
For me less is best so I don't use filters in front of the lens, I do however always use the lens hood and take care when carrying my equipment.
 
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Dave
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#5
As a pro my glass performing well is a MUST

Like Nod I never use 'protective' filters finding that the lenshood is good enough - that and remembering they are expensive so treating them with some respect

Unlike Nod I generally clean them with a blower brush, and if that doesn't work then my t-shirt after breathing on them, which is even cheaper than Nod's suggestions :D

However, if I regularly shot at a windy beach like jono's mum I'd defo have a filter on too

So its really all about where & how you're using them, kinda doing your own risk assessment :)

Dave
 
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#6
I generally keep one on all the time, I just don't earn from it or have the funds to damage the front glass, so I keep a UV/Protection filter on and the times I feel I need pin sharp, remove it, but I have had the front lens cover thing fall off in my bag before, so i was glad about the filter.
 

sirch

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#8
I bought a second hand lens on here that came with a filter, in fact the seller proudly announced it had had a filter on it since new. When I tried the lens the quality wasn't quite what I expected so I took the filter off thinking I would clean the lens and filter to see if that made a difference. When cleaning the filter I noticed a lot of very tiny scratches on it which just couldn’t be seen when the filter was on the lens. I did wonder if the lens was sold because of those scratches. So if you do use filters (I only use them in really rough environments) make sure you check them and clean them, they seem to be softer glass than lenses.

As for cleaning, it’s a sliding scale from Tee shirt to lens cloth to rocket blower and brush and as a last resort Zeiss lens wipes, which are good but I probably only use around 1 a month when the other methods don’t work.
 
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#9
Clear protector filter because when you clean a lens no matter how careful you are, you get little marks and things like that.

Take it off for any important shots you might actually print.
 
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#10
Just keep in mind it won't protect against impacts of any kind. It's actually pretty fragile so if you do have stuff bouncing around in your bag chances are you may end up a pile of glass splinters scratching you lens
 
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Keith
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#11
... as a last resort Zeiss lens wipes, which are good but I probably only use around 1 a month when the other methods don’t work.
Hey Chris... When you say you only use Zeiss lens wipes as a last resort, is that just for cost reasons or is there another reason not to use them too often? I only ask because I use them and don't want to be rubbing off my lens coatings from overuse!
 
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#12
:D
 

sirch

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#13
Hey Chris... When you say you only use Zeiss lens wipes as a last resort, is that just for cost reasons or is there another reason not to use them too often? I only ask because I use them and don't want to be rubbing off my lens coatings from overuse!
Mainly because I don't carry the Zeiss wipes around, so I use whatever is handy in the field. I doubt you could rub the coating off with a Zeiss wipe.
 
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#14
It all depends when and where you may need a filter. I have a "skylight" filter by Hoya for dusty/sandy conditions to stop the lens getting scratched. Also a UV filter great to bring out cloud outlines and a Hoya circular polariser to cut out window reflections. Think that about covers most times when wanted. Not bothered about graduated filters but that is my choice

So yes having a filter in ones kit is handy
 
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#15
I used to have UV filters on my lenses all the time until I was shooting a Sheffield FC vs Sheffield United testimonial and at half time was looking through the pictures and something just wasn't right.. Took the filter off and it improved vastly! Not had one on since.

Saying that I'm very careful with my lenses
 
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Kev
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#16
4 Choices

1. Never ever use one, accept that you may get lens damage in some severe situations.
2. Always use one, accept some image degradation in some situations.
3. Keep one on but remove it if it is not needed, can protect the lens when it is in the bag or swinging about.
4. Put one on only when conditions need it.

I go with 4. Blowing sand and children's sticky fingers are the main reasons I put one on.
 
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Andrew
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#17
They are good if you take pictures in hot damp environments and have a cold lens. The filter gets less condensation and warms up quicker than a f/1.4 lens.
 
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#19
This question has been debated on the internet since the 80s, and at camera clubs since UV filters were invented. Perhaps this is the thread where the question will finally be settled, but I'm not optimistic. The answer is 'always', 'sometimes', or 'never', depending who you ask. If you want to use one, buy a good filter from an authorised dealer (there are lots of fakes on ebay etc.) and make sure that it is (a) multi-coated and (b) has an 'easy clean' layer. Examples include the B+W MRC, B+W MRC Nano, Hoya HD and Hoya Fusion/Evo ranges. You need the multicoating because an uncoated filter, even from a high quality brand like B+W or Hoya, can flare horribly when shooting into the light (ignore any filter tests that don't assess the effect of flare, the biggest single issue with sticking an extra piece of flat glass in front of your lens). You need the easy-clean layer because multicoated filters without it (like the older Hoya Pro-1 and HMC ranges) can smear annoyingly when you try to get the dirt off. Be aware that there are situations where even habitual filter users might be well advised to take them off (e.g. shooting directly into a strong light source), and other situations where those who generally don't use them on principle might have to admit they could be useful (e.g. shooting when there is lots ot wind-blown rain or gritty dust). A hood provides a different kind of protection, as well as usefully shading the lens. For cleaning, I'd suggest a Giottos Rocket blower (avoid unfiltered knock-offs), disposable Zeiss alcohol wipes, and re-usable Pentax Supaclean microfibre cloths (you have to be careful they are kept clean, since any particle of grit trapped in the cloth will be scraped across the surface of your lens).
 
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Nod

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#21
IIRC some lenses need a filter fitted to make them weather resistant. Can't remember which lenses or even brands though.
 
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Clint
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#22
My two pennies. My expensive lenses have filters. I used the Hoya HD protectors. They (Hoya HD) don’t in my opinion cause any degradation of image quality and I feel better having it on, I don’t worry about scratches etc. I would also recommend using the hood. ( not just for flare but also if you drop it. )
 
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#23
I can’t find the Giottos Rocket Blower - some show on amazon but 3rd party seller so wary in case it’s fake
 
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#24
I can’t find the Giottos Rocket Blower - some show on amazon but 3rd party seller so wary in case it’s fake
Koester or Micro-Tools should be OK - they are real businesses with shops outside Amazon, and I've heard of them before. The other one - not so much.
 
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#25
I had had two really expensive lens saved by having filters attached, in one case the filter was smashed, the other a massive scratch. For me it's a filter every time.
 
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#26
This question has been debated on the internet since the 80s, and at camera clubs since UV filters were invented. Perhaps this is the thread where the question will finally be settled, but I'm not optimistic. The answer is 'always', 'sometimes', or 'never', depending who you ask. If you want to use one, buy a good filter from an authorised dealer (there are lots of fakes on ebay etc.) and make sure that it is (a) multi-coated and (b) has an 'easy clean' layer. Examples include the B+W MRC, B+W MRC Nano, Hoya HD and Hoya Fusion/Evo ranges. You need the multicoating because an uncoated filter, even from a high quality brand like B+W or Hoya, can flare horribly when shooting into the light (ignore any filter tests that don't assess the effect of flare, the biggest single issue with sticking an extra piece of flat glass in front of your lens). You need the easy-clean layer because multicoated filters without it (like the older Hoya Pro-1 and HMC ranges) can smear annoyingly when you try to get the dirt off. Be aware that there are situations where even habitual filter users might be well advised to take them off (e.g. shooting directly into a strong light source), and other situations where those who generally don't use them on principle might have to admit they could be useful (e.g. shooting when there is lots ot wind-blown rain or gritty dust). A hood provides a different kind of protection, as well as usefully shading the lens. For cleaning, I'd suggest a Giottos Rocket blower (avoid unfiltered knock-offs), disposable Zeiss alcohol wipes, and re-usable Pentax Supaclean microfibre cloths (you have to be careful they are kept clean, since any particle of grit trapped in the cloth will be scraped across the surface of your lens).
(y)
 
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#27
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#28
My two pennies. My expensive lenses have filters. I used the Hoya HD protectors. They (Hoya HD) don’t in my opinion cause any degradation of image quality and I feel better having it on, I don’t worry about scratches etc. I would also recommend using the hood. ( not just for flare but also if you drop it. )
Heh, I'm the opposite :)

I always used to add a filter from new, quite expensive filters too, but when I started buying my 'big boy' lenses back with Canon, someone suggested trying without and I have to say I did notice the difference.

Today I only use filters when I know there's going to be a lot of sand, salt water spray with one exception. On my cheapest walkabout lens, I use a clear B+W filter as a permanent 'shoot though' lens cap, so it's always available. Always use a hood though.

Most filters are a lot 'softer' than good lens glass and will scratch / pit more easily. They are also far more likely to shatter (thanks to their thickness, so I would not assume that the what happens to a filter would have happened to your lens' front element.

For me it's like everything in photography, use what's best for the circumstances and adapt accordingly.
 
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#29
Since the filters are way more fragile than the front elements of lenses how do you know the filter did anything except being smashed?
https://www.picturecorrect.com/tips...r-testing-the-strength-of-filters-and-lenses/
What makes you think front elements are tough? I've seen two broken this year, one with a fairly easy bump the other had a fair bang.
The ones I had damaged I'm quite sure would have damaged the elements, one had a metal point gouge the filter, the other fell about 6 or 8 foot and landed lens down, were in not for the metal hood crumpling I doubt it would have survived at all.
Either way a filter is a lot cheaper than a new lens or getting one repaired.
 
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#30
What makes you think front elements are tough? I've seen two broken this year, one with a fairly easy bump the other had a fair bang.
The ones I had damaged I'm quite sure would have damaged the elements, one had a metal point gouge the filter, the other fell about 6 or 8 foot and landed lens down, were in not for the metal hood crumpling I doubt it would have survived at all.
Either way a filter is a lot cheaper than a new lens or getting one repaired.
Did you see the video in my link?
 
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#31
Did you see the video in my link?
Let's not start that old argument. It's a grey area - sometimes a filter will add protection if you drop a lens, sometimes it can make things worse. Toss a coin.

On the other hand, a lens hood always adds substantial physical protection and a good mat-black one can only enhance image quality. Eg, when driving into the sun, flipping the visor down is very helpful, or when you shade your eyes with your hand. A lens hood works the same way.

To those that say they have always used a protection filter and never noticed any problems, I'd say they're probably looking for the wrong thing or have never done proper with/without comparisons. The problem is not sharpness, but flare - try shooting with/without into bright light, especially night scenes.
 
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#32
Let's not start that old argument. It's a grey area - sometimes a filter will add protection if you drop a lens, sometimes it can make things worse. Toss a coin.

On the other hand, a lens hood always adds substantial physical protection and a good mat-black one can only enhance image quality. Eg, when driving into the sun, flipping the visor down is very helpful, or when you shade your eyes with your hand. A lens hood works the same way.

To those that say they have always used a protection filter and never noticed any problems, I'd say they're probably looking for the wrong thing or have never done proper with/without comparisons. The problem is not sharpness, but flare - try shooting with/without into bright light, especially night scenes.
Well it's not to start that argument. I'm all for people choosing to use filters but for the right reasons. The things like weather resistance, airborne sand, sea spray etc. What I like to make people aware of is a broken filter not automatically equals a safed lens. The filters are not that tuff and the lens elements can usually take much more punishment before breaking or scratching. The internal are also likely to be damaged on impact as shown in the video I linke to.
 
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#34
I use uv filters just for peace of mind really, I hate cleaning front elements.

What I have seen suggested before is buying a UV filter (cheap one) and taking the glass out of it and just screwing on the metal ring, just further minimising the chance of something catching the front element.
 
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#35
I always used good quality filters and lens hoods on film cameras.
Even the best film camera lenses were not a patch on the quality of the latest lenses for Digital cameras, which can capture quite remarkable micro detail.
It is this exceptional quality issue of digital lenses, that raises the question anew as to whether we should use protection filters.
Probably only the lens designer could give a definitive answer. as introducing another pair of surfaces additional coatings and a layer of refractive glass must have some effect to the optical path.

I take the position that when the highest quality images are necessary, then remove any filters. But when the priority is protection from harsh environments are the issue, then take all the precautions available including using a protection filter.

Most lens hoods, especially the petal type, are designed to be a short as possible, while at the same time shading the maximum amount of stray light.
However they are not designed primarily to protect the lens from physical trauma, nor from the elements. Rather larger longer and sprung hoods would be needed for those tasks. but there is no doubt that they do afford some modest protection.
The extra leverage produces when a lens hood is struck from the side can be enough to break apart a lens or mount.
 
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#37
My offering to the the thread. I don't use filters but ensure the lens hood is fitted. As for cleaning the front element I blow on it then use a spectacle wipe.
These are cheap from the likes of Wilkos or Savers and do a good job of cleaning away any grease or marks on the lens. (just like they do on specs)
 
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#40
I dropped my wide angle lens last week in its case, felt sick and to my relief only the filter had shattered. Bought more filters for other lenses now.
 
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