To filter or not to filter, that’s the question (many ask)

I’m not talking about ND, polarizer or color filters, but about clear or UV filters. Do we need them or not. Of course do we need them, but do we need them on all of the time and are they for everybody? Often do we come across arguments one way or the other online or in person about the pros and cons of using those filters. So to jump right into it, what are actually the pros and cons?

Protect the front lens element (obviously)
– From scratches
– Fluids like oil, salt water and so on.

– To introduce an extra layer of glass in front of the lens, can potentially degrade the picture quality.
– The filter attaches farther out than the front lens element, and may cause flare because it’s not covered so well from side light by the lens hood.
– As the filter sits farther out, its’s more prone to be hit by unwanted objects.
– Compared to the front lens element, a filter is very fragile, and can shatter easily witch further may cause scratches on the surface of the front lens element.
– No glass or plastic are 100% transparent, so you will lose light adding a filter

As we can see, if your photography revolves around hazardous environments, filters would be a good investment. But for most others, I really don’t see the benefit outweighs the potential drawbacks. I should also be quick to mention that I always use the lens hood on (the right way, actually have seen several times people shooting with the lens hood reversed!) all the time. Most of them are made of plastic and works very well as a protector bouncing off of obstacles. The shape of the lens hood also makes it pretty difficult for sharp objects to enter and scratch the glass.

So, why is there so many who swear to use filters on all the time? If looking at used marked, one very common first statement in the description is that the lens has had UV-filter on since day one. Is it because their parents or older uncle told them to? Back in the old days of film, a UV-filter actually had a mission, as the film was sensitive to UV, but modern days digital sensors are not much affected by UV-light. So that argument is not valid anymore. Maybe the nice guy behind the desk at your local photo store told you it’s a nice and cheap insurance for your massively expensive lens? If you, let’s say have five lenses, would you be better off spending the money on a couple of books to enhance your photography skills, a course or even save up to another lens or a flash?

Update; I found an article from Lens Rentals that could be interesting to read. I find Lens Rentals to be one of the more serious companies when it comes to tests, reviews and general opinions based on their massive amount of gear handled.

What is your opinion about clear/UV-filter, do you use them? Not? Let me know your experience either way or if you are not agree with my pros and cons.

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