Do you use protective or UV filters?

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by AlexH, Apr 7, 2012.

  1. AlexH

    AlexH Mu-43 Veteran

    Mar 27, 2012
    Arkansas, U.S.
    Last night I went out to do some street photography. As I was walking down the street I was also screwing in a lens hood on my Lumix 20 1.7. Well, my attention was elsewhere and the hood slipped and scraped right across the glass leaving a small scratch. It isn't too bad, but it feels like I just ruined my lens. Now I'm thinking about picking up some UV or clear filters for all my lenses.

    So, my question to you is this, do you guys use clear protective filters over your lenses, or UV filters, to protect the front glass? Or do you go commando front element?

    Last question, if you do use protective filters of any kind, do you feel it harms IQ? And which do you use, UV or clear?

    PS - For those photography geeks among us who felt my pain as you read of my 20mm's demise, don't feel too bad... I'm getting a good enough tax refund to cover replacing it with a Panasonic Leica 25mm f/1.4. :cool:
  2. Promit

    Promit Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 6, 2011
    Baltimore, MD
    Real Name:
    Promit Roy
    Just FYI, there are ways to remove or at least lessen scratches in glass of all types. Even toothpaste, oddly enough. You might want to look into it.
  3. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    If you damaged your lens by not paying attention while screwing something into the threads, then how is adding a protective filter going to help? That's just yet ANOTHER chance you will get to damage your lens while doing the same thing. Filters screw into the same threads as hoods. Of course, I'm assuming you're using a screw-in hood as a bayonet hood would be even safer and have no metal edge to scratch your lens with.

    I use hoods for protection (protection from flare as well as physical protection), but they stay on the lens and don't get screwed in and out. The only ones that get removed regularly are the reversible bayonet hoods.

    I don't consider filters to be a protective element. They are a lot weaker than the front element of your lens, and may shatter when dropped... which your front element will not do without extreme impact. I don't think a bunch of flying glass shards are very protective. ;) A hood on the other hand will give protection from bumps and will also help absorb shock in the case of a drop. Plus it will improve your image quality instead of degrading it.

    If a clear filter makes you feel more secure though, then go ahead... as long as you get a high quality one (Hoya at the minimum, but preferably B+W, Heliopan, etc.) that can keep up with the quality of your lens, then the harmful effects to image quality should be negligible. It's your lens, so baby it the way you feel most comfortable.
    • Like Like x 2
  4. Liamness

    Liamness Mu-43 Veteran

    Apr 20, 2011
    You haven't ruined your lens, it will make literally no difference whatsoever to the image quality. I don't use protective filters, as they are made of much thinner and more brittle glass than the front element of any lens. Therefore, breakages and scratching are made much more likely.
  5. songs2001

    songs2001 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jul 8, 2011
    I use a UV filter, and then leave it on rather than using a lens cap in the 20 1.7.

    It will flare more, especially at night. But I like the convenience of carrying my camera in my pocket with keys, change or whatever without worrying about scratching the front element.
  6. AlexH

    AlexH Mu-43 Veteran

    Mar 27, 2012
    Arkansas, U.S.
    Because I'd rather scratch a $30-50 filter than a $300-500 lens. You can simply leave a filter on the lens at all times, cap goes on top of filter. So, I wouldn't be screwing them on and off all the time.
  7. aikidoka

    aikidoka Mu-43 Regular

    Jul 18, 2011
    Knowing that I am clumsy enough, I have uv filters on all the lens in the collection. I didn't see any perceptible effect on the image quality.
  8. MrKal_El

    MrKal_El Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Mar 24, 2011
    I have a B+H on all my lens... I feel the benefit out-weighs any would be negatives...
  9. shnitz

    shnitz Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Aug 25, 2011
    Austin, TX
    This thread comes up every few weeks. It's a never-ending discussion with no right answer. Feel free to search this forum, and google in general, to find more arguments one way or another than you'd ever care to know. Two things about your particular situation:

    -Consider seeing how much Panasonic charges to replace the front element. I know with all of my Nikon lenses (that I don't use front filters for), that if I were to damage my front element enough to adversely affect image quality, I can send the lens in to Nikon and have it repaired for not much money, about the same price as a quality filter would cost for the lens. Plus, the way I see it is that any impact that is hard enough to really send a large scratch or chip into the lens will also likely affect the calibration of the lens, and it will need to be sent in anyway.

    -Check to see if the scratch affects image quality. Chances are that it won't really do anything noticeable. This article sums it up pretty well: - Front Element Scratches
  10. RT_Panther

    RT_Panther Mu-43 Legend

    May 4, 2011
    And...I've heard of cases where the broken filter has actually damaged the lens glass.

    I use filters for effect only.
  11. dhazeghi

    dhazeghi Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 6, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    Real Name:
    There's no question that UV filters harm IQ. You're adding an additional element that wasn't designed for to a carefully built system of elements. The question is whether the harm is visible enough to worry about. With good filters, I'd say the answer is 'no.' A Hoya or B+W multicoated filter does cost, but compared to the cost of replacing a front element, it's fairly reasonable.

    In theory hoods provide protection too, but in practice they're less convenient (though they do have other upsides).

  12. RT_Panther

    RT_Panther Mu-43 Legend

    May 4, 2011
  13. Hikari

    Hikari Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 26, 2010
    The scratch could be a huge problem when shooting into a bright light source as the specular reflection can cast an image.

    I do use protective filters on all my systems. I work in some pretty exposed condition and I find I have to toss a filter from time to time because it can no longer be cleaned. I buy good multi-coated filters.
  14. phrenic

    phrenic Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 13, 2010
    It's a very expensive "insurance" option..I mean for a high quality filter you might be talking about 15-20% of the value of the lens that it's supposed to protect. This combined with the possibility of the filter shattering and the difficulty scratching the lens enough to actually make a difference makes me choose to go bare. Why degrade all your shots by putting another layer of cheaper glass in front of it just to protect against the possibility of scratches.

    That said, I can see the value of a filter if you're in particularly dusty/sandy/wet climates and shooting conditions where it would help to be able to just wipe off the filter easily and protect the lens from the environment.
  15. ibcj

    ibcj Mu-43 Regular

    Oct 15, 2011
    There was a time when I only used hoods and never filters. Of course as I was photographing a wedding and changing lenses quickly, I accidentally dropped my 35mm and it struck the foot of my flash, causing a very small chip to the face of the lens. The chip doesn't affect the image quality too much, but for resale or replacement it will have an impact (no pun intended).
    Today, I use high quality B+W filters for most of my lenses, except my 400mm 2.8, :).
    Any slight decrease in image quality due to the filter, is worth the protection. Replacing is filter is less expensive than the front element.
  16. Hikari

    Hikari Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 26, 2010
    Actually, camera lenses are not built to that high standard nor work with such tolerances that it would matter of you put an optical blank in front of them. The only problem with a filter is simply transmission. A good multi-coated filter is fine. A bad filter will introduce problems like flare.
  17. Hikari

    Hikari Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 26, 2010
    And you do not think the event that causes a filter to shatter would not have damaged the lens anyway?
  18. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    Leaving a hard hood on will offer you a similar level of protection. But with the hood, you don't even have to worry about scratching that $30-$50 filter. If I handled my lenses the way I do with the hoods on, using only a filter instead... I would be going through a lot of $30-$50 filters, and that would get very expensive. Of course you could use both hood and filter, but that's another story... the point is if one or the other is used, the hood is the cost-effective and non-destructive choice. I'm not saying that using a filter is bad, but you should consider the use of a hood first.

    Generally, no. It takes a very hard impact to damage a well-built lens, and comparatively little impact to damage a filter. Most standard drops will not damage a lens if you have a good hood to help absorb the shock and prevent the element from actually contacting the ground directly, especially if your lens is of the metal variety. Take it from somebody who has dropped a lot of lenses and cameras (which is why I love Oly pro-grade bodies).
  19. songs2001

    songs2001 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jul 8, 2011
    I would agree with Ned except that in the case of the 20 there is no bayonet for hood, and no reversal for storage, additional mass of the hood is greater than filter, and also it turns a pancake lens into a birthday cake lens.
  20. Brian S

    Brian S Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Apr 11, 2009
    The AA filter and IR absoring filter in front of the sensor lowers IQ far more than a good quality filter.

    If you have enough money to replace lenses with every scratch, great. If not, replacing a filter is much cheaper.

    I have a lot of vintage lenses that were used with protective filters. It shows in the condition of the glass.

    Buy the filter, try it for yourself.