This question has been asked over and over again so I figured it would be a perfect post! Do you need, or should you use, a UV filter on your lens?
This is a very controversial question and one that is mainly based on an opinion. Many photographers will leave the filter on at all times where others do not. Is one right? Well, I think you should decide for yourself.
Before we get into it lets get some basics:
What is a UV filter?
A UV filter is a glass filter, just like most others, that will attach to your lens. It is meant to block ultra violet light rays. It also removes the blue cast from images taken during a very bright day, or bright sunny conditions.
Do You Need a UV Filter for Your Lens?
Lets bring up the most common arguments, pros vs. cons
Pros for using UV filters all the time:
The UV filter provides protection for the lens from damage
Oh my gosh there is only 1 thing worse than dropping your camera…. picking it up and seeing your lens shattered. I haven’t had this happen to me, thank the lord, however, I have heard horror stories. I have also heard amazing stories as to how the UV filter saved the lens. Now, in my opinion, that is a pretty good investment. I would rather lose a $100 UV filter than lose a $2k lens.
To play the devils advocate though, if you drop your lens to where your UV filter shatters, wouldn’t that also ruin your lens internally due to the impact?
The UV filter keeps my lens clean. No dust, dirt, scratches, finger smudges, and so forth
This is true too. The UV filter is an extra layer of glass; therefore, it will keep all the dust and grime off of your lens glass. It is also a flat piece of glass which is much easier to clean when needed.
If the filter does get scratched then it is much nicer to have to buy a $100 filter rather than a $2k lens.
Cons for using UV filters all the time:
The filter causes a loss of image quality
This is true in theory. Yes adding glass to glass can reduce the image quality. But the loss is going to be so small in practice that you need to really ask the question of ‘is the loss of image quality significant and going to effect me?’
Loss of light
I have never seen this. Adding a piece of goo quality glass to your lens, that is clear, should not effect the amount of light that enters your sensor.
Loss of resolution
As long as you are using a good quality UV filter you will not see any significance in the quality on a normal lens. A good quality filter will have optically flat surfaces and should not disturb the direction of the light that will pass through the filter.
Ultimately, I do keep a UV filter on my lens, but the choice is really up to you. Again, you need to choose if the ‘loss of image quality is significant’ to you.
I do need to warn you though… if you put a cheap filter on your lens and in front of your expensive glass you are ultimately creating a lens with the image quality of that cheap filter. Do not buy a cheap filter. Basically all I have to say is :
Cheap low quality filters are NOT acceptable.
Filters are not the funnest thing to buy, lets just be honest; however, they are important, keep you creative, and can be incredibly helpful. Make sure to get yourself a good quality UV filter. Expect to spend in the $100 range when purchasing a good quality UV filter.
I got my filter from Horn Photo and love it. I have not seen any negative effects to my image quality with it. If you can go to Horn, then make sure to do so. They are an amazing company and local small business. If you cannot go there, then I would check out the Zeiss, the Heliopan , or the Hoya .
Do you use a UV filter? Comment below and let me know. This blog is meant to be a community helping each other out, growing our businesses, growing our knowledge, and so much more. We are seriously so much stronger together!