Beware of cheap filters.....

Discussion in 'Accessories' started by silver92b, Dec 19, 2013.

  1. silver92b

    silver92b Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 7, 2013
    Atlanta, GA
    I have almost automatically installed UV filters on my lenses, feeling like I was protecting the lenses and without thinking what the negative aspects might be.

    After fighting my PL100-300 on my E-M5 and getting totally blurry, substandard photos of the moon, I was at my wits end. I thought the PL100-300 was just inferior glass. I used to get beautiful shots of the moon with a Nikon D60 and the fine 75-300 Nikon lens, much better IQ than the Panny...

    Then I noticed some artifacts that showed in the pictures and the view finder which moved around as I movedthe camera. :doh::doh::doh:.. I realized that the UV filter was probably the cause of the problems. Sure enough, I just went out and got a couple of shots of the moon. Same tripod, same focus, nothing changed except one without the filter and another one with the filter installed. See for yourself:

    with TRISTAR OPTICS UV filter

    Without any filter

    My friend had told me before that those filters affected IQ and focus negatively. He said he could not understand why anyone would put a cheap piece of crap in front of an expensive piece of glass... I listened to him but did not act on it. Now I know why so many of my shots are "soft". What a waste of money and time! :tongue:
    • Like Like x 2
  2. T N Args

    T N Args Agent Photocateur

    Dec 3, 2013
    Adelaide, Australia
    call me Arg
    Yes, I stopped using filters in 2009, when I went to modern glass which, IMHO, is not as easily marked as the older lenses. Anyway, I don't seem to get marks on my lenses (or, previously, filters).

    I believe that filters can be successfully used without the problems you are having, certainly not to that extent, but I think the individual needs to assess his or her own needs and make an individual decision. In my case, even if I could get 99.5% performance through filters, there is no reason not to get 100% by omitting them.
  3. wjiang

    wjiang Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    I stopped using them as well since I noticed flaring at night, with point light sources... bound to impair in other ways too. Now when I buy used lenses I inevitably have to remove the ubiquitous included UV filter...
  4. pdk42

    pdk42 One of the "Eh?" team

    Jan 11, 2013
    Leamington Spa, UK
    Except where there are harsh environmental factors (seaspray, sand etc), using filters for protection is really a bad idea. Besides the impact on IQ (which will be worse the longer the focal length), a drop onto the filter will likely result in shards of broken glass on the front element which will be far more likely to damage it than the fall in the first place. Then there's the risk that the filter frame will be jammed onto the lens requiring special tools to remove, or even having to be cut off. Really, using a hood offers way more protection and it will only improve the IQ, not reduce it!
  5. Michael in China

    Michael in China Mu-43 Regular

    Jul 7, 2012
    Zhuhai China
    Yup. I said, "Doh!" after installing a cheapish UV filter on an Oly 12-50. Flare made the lens almost unusable. Really horrible. I'll continue to use NDs, grads and Polarizing filters as the need arises, but no more UVs for me.
  6. If you use filters, buy high quality ones.

    If you don't want to spend the money on high quality filters, don't use any.
    • Like Like x 2
  7. STR

    STR Mu-43 Veteran

    May 16, 2013
    ^I really object to the "you gotta pay to play" mentality people have with filters. It's a cheap piece of glass with some sprayed on coatings stuck in a metal ring. The cost of materials is under $1 and labor is probably less. It is RIDICULOUS to pay, and OUTRAGEOUS to charge, $30, $60, or even $80 for that.

    Better idea: try a couple of different inexpensive $5-8 brands at once. Return the bad ones, stick with the good ones. Keep buying the good ones. Let's be honest, a lot of these are made in the same factory by the same people as the expensive name-brand ones anyway.
  8. Done that... doesn't work. From my experience, there is absolutely a reason why cheap filters are cheap and expensive ones are expensive. You simply get what you pay for. Trying to determine the 1% difference among different cheap brands is a waste of time.

    I'd like to also know what makes you certain that its simply cheap glass. Glass like most materials comes at different qualities.... Corning Incorporated is a decades long history of manufacturing around this fact. The same goes with the quality of the coatings. You also believe that the quality of glass that goes into a $100 lens is the same as a $10,000 lens?

    Btw... never said you gotta pay to play.... you can "play" spending zero on a filter. Just don't use one.
  9. yakky

    yakky Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jul 1, 2013
    I've had all sorts of flare and reflection issues with cheap uncoated filters, but nothing like the above. I know you said the focus was the same... but it looks like it is completely out of focus.
    • Like Like x 1
  10. meyerweb

    meyerweb Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Sep 5, 2011
    Suggestion: Try to actually learn something about optical manufacturing, the precision required to grind glass, and how coatings are actually applied before discussing the subject. I've seen the manufacturing process for high quality lens elements first hand. It's far from "cheap glass," and coatings aren't "sprayed" on. I suppose those $5 filter makers may "spray" the coatings onto cheap window glass. If so, that goes a long way to explaining why they work so poorly.
    • Like Like x 2
  11. boostin

    boostin Mu-43 Regular

    Sep 21, 2013
    If I'm not mistaken you not support use uv filter when shooting the moon at night time.
  12. AdamSF

    AdamSF Shutterbugger

    Oct 13, 2013
    San Francisco, CA
    They're called "filters" for a reason. By definition, they're going to have an effect on the light entering your expensive high-precision lens and cutting-edge technology camera. If it is an effect that you want to have, like what a polarizer or variable density filter does, then fine. If you are using as a physical barrier to protect your lens from damage, don't be shocked when that physical barrier does what physical barriers do.
  13. dwig

    dwig Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 26, 2010
    Key West FL
    True, but from my experience (25 years selling lenses and filters retail and handling customers and their images along with over 55 years of shooting and darkroom/lightroom work) the quality of the finishing of the glass disk (edge grinding and blackening) and the precision of the mount are vastly bigger components to the end quality. I've seen many filters that become warped by their mounts, either from how the glass is fitted into the band or how the whole filter fits the lens. The slightest distortion to the glass disk and/or the slightest tilt off axis will very quickly destroy image quality.
  14. STR

    STR Mu-43 Veteran

    May 16, 2013
    It's nice to see someone pronounce their superior knowledge while simultaneously proving they don't know what they're talking about. Filters aren't lens elements. Lens elements, seeing as how they're lens specific, are bespoke items made almost one at a time by much smaller operations. Filters are flat pieces of glass, purchasable as a commodity in bulk since it's the same stuff is used in smartphones by the millions of units (unless it's ND filters where the glass itself is pigmented. That's not used in phones, but you buy it from the same people). Buy a large sheet of flat glass, spray on coating(s), bake to cure coatings as needed, cut out filters from sheet.

    Seeing as I'm IN manufacturing, I could give you the phone number for a dozen firms who can sell you optical-grade flat glass in bulk. They are the same firms who serve Hoya and the like, and they run other brands on the same lines. Fact. You don't even have to grind the stuff so long as you set the purchase requirements and check for exceptions when they deliver.

    Welcome to 2013 and the global economy. Your preconceptions about quality are obsolete.
  15. meyerweb

    meyerweb Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Sep 5, 2011
    Perhaps. You still appear to understand nothing about optical coatings and how they are applied, nor the difference between 1$ a filter glass and what Hoya and others use for their filters. You acknowledge that the real cheap filters have lousy quality, but seem unwilling to acknowledge that the fact that they are cheap probably has something to do with that.

    As I said, I HAVE been inside an optical factory. It still appears you haven't. It also appears you don't understand basic economics. The filter market is competitive, which lots of manufacturers. If Hoya COULD sell a quality filter for half their current price, or even 75% of their current price, they'd dominate the market. Unless you really believe that a dozen different companies in several different countries are colluding on price without anyone noticing.
  16. Fmrvette

    Fmrvette This Space For Rent

    May 26, 2012
    Detroit, Michigan
    Hmmm...who left the lid off of the can of worms? :biggrin:

    Lessee...what seems to be agreeable points here...if any...

    Them's as wants to use filters should use 'em.

    Them's as don't wants to use filters shouldn't use 'em.

    Them's that's sitting on the fence...are probably really uncomfortable and should find a chair or something soft :biggrin:.

    Nobody needs to defend their position to nobody else unless they're spendin' the other fellas money :wink:.

    Reasonable people can disagree; so can unreasonable people.

    There's a difference between a cheap filter and a similar sized one from, say, Hoya. Some will say the difference is only in the price; others will say ya get what ya pays for and a quality filter will have little/no impact on image quality.

    Research on the web can find tests supporting both sides and both sides must be right because the supporting tests are on the Internet :biggrin:.

    Me? If it matters I use (not cheap) filters; I had a bad experience once with a sticky substance being deposited on the front element of a lens and now prefer to put the filter at risk instead. Does it impact the image quality? How would I know? I don't shoot without filters...:biggrin: :biggrin: :biggrin:

    Just remember the really, really important part - those that do elect to use expensive (or cheap) filters should use the links to Amazon or B&H so they are supporting MU/43 :2thumbs:

    (With tongue firmly in cheek I g,d,&r verra verra fast into the night...)


    • Like Like x 2
  17. BigTom

    BigTom Mu-43 Regular

    Sep 23, 2011
    I found (a few years ago) that the Hoya Pro filters I was using for protecting some of my lenses were still producing noticeable softening. So I ditched them, have never looked back and have never suffered from scratches or other damage.
  18. Sammyboy

    Sammyboy m43 Pro

    Oct 26, 2010
    Steeler Country
    Regarding filters and the OM 350/2.8:
    "Note: Olympus has warned the front element of the lense uses a special material less hard than the conventional lenses, so that greater care should be taken to protect it from scratching. When not taking pictures, be sure to put the front lense cap on. Filter Replacement and Filter Holder: A NEUTRAL 46 mm rear filter comes with the lense as standard accessory. The filter is a part of the lense optical system, so that be careful to always use the neutral filter when any other filter is not used. After replacing the filter, focus adjustment is necessary."
  19. dwig

    dwig Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 26, 2010
    Key West FL
    This is an internal or rear mounted filter. Olympus has balanced the optical design to include the presence of a filter. Omitting it will lower image quaity. In fact, any filter used should be ones with exactly the same refractive index as the Olympus NEUTRAL that comes with the lens. Filters made with a significantly different glass could also reduce IQ.
  20. silver92b

    silver92b Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 7, 2013
    Atlanta, GA
    I shot the naked lens first (better, second picture) and I rushed a bit so the focus is not perfect. I shot the next photo (first one, terrible blur) with the same focus (manual) and the same shutter speed and aperture *and* the filter. I did not take extreme care while doing this test, but I used reasonable care to keep the two shots conditions the same.

    You are correct :). Actually at this point I do not endorse the use of any filters unless absolutely necessary. Of course, I am no authority so my advise or opinions should not be taken as expert advise.

    Yeah, sure. However, I might be excused for ignoring the "obvious" because I was swayed by advertising and other people's advise. I really was shocked at the level of IQ deterioration... I don't think I'll be using filters so casually in the future. Also, I'll expect deterioration when using the cheap polarizing and ND filters I've got.
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.