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Experts say don't use filters. Are they correct?

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by MikeR_GF1, Jul 8, 2012.

  1. MikeR_GF1

    MikeR_GF1 Guest

    In my copy of "The Photoshop Lightroom Workbook" (for LR2) by Seth Resnick and Jamie Spritzer, they say on the subject of "Filters" -

    "While many photographers used all kinds of filters with film-based cameras, it is generally not a good idea to use them with digital." They go on to say that, "light will pass through the filter , hit the sensor and then reflect back on the sensor instead of passing through the filter. Skylight and UV filters are also altering the wavelength of light that hits your sensor."

    In a way, that makes sense, but then ... why do manufacturers of lenses for digital cameras provide the threads to mount filters?

    I always kept a filter on my film cameras, I have a UV filter on my Nikon prime lens, and a polarizing one on my Nikon telephoto. I bought filters for my M43 lenses, but now am reluctant to mount them on the lenses.

    I don't know if these authors held to their opinions in later editions, but I wondered what people have experienced in the real world. Is it that BIG an effect? Do filters reduce contrast? Do they cause reflections? Or, do they improve the image?
  2. michaeln

    michaeln Guest

    Well, there are experts and there are experts, the key is to know which ones are full of uhhhhh... well you know.

    Some filters cannot be substituted in PP, such as polarizers and neutral density filters. I almost always shoot digital without filters, but I use a polarizer or a neutral density when I need what they do.

    I never use UV or "lens protector" filters though. I keep the lens cap on until I am ready to set up the shot and shoot, and I use a soft brush to remove any particles prior to cleaning the elements if they need it. I have never damaged a lens in 4 decades of shooting.
  3. RT_Panther

    RT_Panther Mu-43 Legend

    May 4, 2011
    Well let's see....
    You also have Neutral Density & Circular polarizers.....:smile:
  4. usayit

    usayit Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Total B.S.

    Filters are not an all or nothing thing... just like any piece of equipment they are a tool that must be mastered. Yes.. there are some filters that simply cannot be adequately duplicated in PP. The authors must be brilliant... they wrote a book that indicates a problem that no one else has discovered.

    There is an endless debate about using UV filters for protection. I've had this debate many times and there seems to be the camp that you either use it or you don't without much thought or consideration for "sometimes". I"m in the camp that uses them when I deem them appropriate. Remove them when appropriate.
    • Like Like x 2
  5. Hikari

    Hikari Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 26, 2010
    I always use UV filters on my lenses. Most of my work is with medium-format digital cameras. There is no problem with a good multi-coated filter. A bad filter can cause problems.

    I am out in all kinds of conditions. I periodically will toss a filter that no longer can be cleaned. I find it cheaper than doing that with a filter rather than a lens.

    Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference on whether you want to put a filter on to not.

    BTW, UV and Skylight filters do not alter the wavelength of light passing through them. As far as reflections, exactly how much light is a filter supposed to reflect back into the system. And somehow the 16 odd optical surfaces in the lens itself is not an issue. I would chalk their "reasoning" up to myth.
  6. phrenic

    phrenic Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 13, 2010
    1) Some filters have notable effects..like CPL or ND filters.
    2) There is a negative effect on IQ (at least at a theoretical level); you are not going to improve image quality by adding another layer of glass, possible flaring. However, it is possible you might not notice this detriment at all. Especially with a higher end lens.
    3) Some say it's worth using filters to protect your lens. As a counterpoint, you should look at the price of the lens vs the price of the filter. It seems too much imo to spend 10% of the cost of the lens on a simple piece of glass to protect it. Others argue that the lens is actually quite durable and doesn't need the protection.

    Keep in mind that points 2 and 3 represent a trade-off, mostly a judgement call as to what's important to you (value wise, quality wise) and the reason why so much bandwidth is wasted in arguing both sides. (FWIW I use a protective filter on my most expensive lens (9-18mm) and not on anything else. I might drop it for a hood. But right now it's great for throwing in a pocket and not worrying about scratching it.
    • Like Like x 1
  7. usayit

    usayit Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Same category as phrenic...

    I hate to perseverate or obsess over equipment when I am out. I Just Want To Shoot... and do so fluidly. I generally carry lenses with no caps at all; front nor rear. I wipe the front with my shirt, pants, sleeve, whatever... even in dirty environments.

    I always use the highest quality filters.... but the lenses they protect cost in the several thousand dollar range (which is beyond my ability to replace easily). I always remove when I see a risk of flare (shooting into a bright pin point light). For now, none of my micro 4/3 lenses have filters for protection but I still use them without caps.. I haven't made my mind up in that respect.
  8. MikeR_GF1

    MikeR_GF1 Guest

    I'd like to respond with a collective "thank you" to everyone above who provided me with information.

    So far, I have ONE lens that I'll put some protective glass on, the 20mm f/1.7. That makes sense ... dollar-sense.

    I understand the diff with ND & CPL - hard to imagine NOT using those.

    Anyway, thanks, everybody.
  9. David A

    David A Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 30, 2011
    Brisbane, Australia
    You don't need a filter, EXCEPT when you need a filter.

    As others have said, digital photographers do use neutral density and polarising filters. There's argument about UV and skylight filters used as lens protection but you don't need them for photographic reasons.

    And you don't need those red, yellow, blue, green filters photographers used to use when shooting black and white film, UNLESS you're using a camera like the new Leica Monochrom with a luminance only sensor and no RGB array which means that it's impossible to replicate the effect of any filter at all in software so those guys are back to using pretty much every filter ever used in the old black and white film days.

    So there are good reasons for continuing to put filter fittings on the front of lenses and if you object to every filter known to man, you can still use that thread for screw in filters to mount your screw in lens hood.
  10. Lawrence A.

    Lawrence A. Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 14, 2012
    New Mexico
    I live in a dusty, frequently gritty desert environment where blowing sand can be a problem. Dust storms are common. I always keep a UV filter on my lenses when I'm walking around with them. It's easy enough to take off, but in the meantime I don't have to worry about blowing grit on my lens coatings. Lenses may be tough, but I don't trust lens coatings to endure blowing grit. And, at 5000 ft above sea level or higher, the UV filtration is often quite useful. As something I intend to keep a lifetime, I don't like cleaning lens glass any more than is absolutely necessary; keeping them covered, especially when not shooting helps that along. I do use hoods most of the time too, but my lens cap goes in my pocket when I take the camera out. It's personal, and as others have mentioned, it is not either or. I never shoot with uv filters in the studio.
  11. flash

    flash Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Apr 29, 2010
    1 hour from Sydney Australia.
    I'm from the school that thinks you should only use a filter to perform a specific task, otherwise leave them off. I prefer to always have a hood on for both improvements in image quality and lens protection duties. But my bag has a set of UV, CPL and ND filters in it at all times.

    I do on occasion put a good UV filter on a lens. But it's either at altitude or when salt/sand/water are significant issues during a shoot. When they're no needed, off they come.

  12. humzai

    humzai Mu-43 Veteran

    Apr 17, 2012
    What exactly is the uv filter useful for over 5000ft?
  13. Sammyboy

    Sammyboy m43 Pro

    Oct 26, 2010
    Steeler Country
    Here's a link to B+W transmission charts. These curves apply only to B+W filters, curves from other manufacturers may be different.
    Filters do not add anything, they only take away from the image. This may not be noticeable with UV filters, but using stronger filters, will filter out light or a percentage of light at a specific wavelength, never to reach the sensor. Reviewing the charts give you good indication of what filters affect the light at specific wave lengths. If you have and try a #29 Dark Red, #47 Dark Blue, or even the Hoya #72 IR filter, you will see the dramatic effect they have on the image by blocking or limiting certain wave lengths. Software can only simulate a filter effect, but can not accurately duplicate it since the image does not contain the light of the specific wave lengths that were filtered out.
  14. shizlefonizle

    shizlefonizle Mu-43 Veteran

    Apr 21, 2012
    Eh $80 for peace of mind aint too bad. Plus I can walk around without the lens cap and not have to worry too much.
  15. Gwendal

    Gwendal Mu-43 Veteran

    Jun 6, 2010
    And a nice example too here : Graduated camera filters blog, outdoor / landscape / architecture photography – Real vs. Digital – Light lemon yellow of the difference between filtered and PP'ed.
  16. mattia

    mattia Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 3, 2012
    The Netherlands
    I have a few UV filters (that came with second-hand purchases) that only go on lenses when weather conditions dictate - this generally means sand/wind - and never under other conditions. Even high-quality B&W multicoated filters can degrade image quality (flare in particular, in my experience with Canon glass). A CPL that gets used when appropriate and I'll likely get some ND (grads) eventually, but other filters for digital seem like a waste of time and add nothing.
  17. usayit

    usayit Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    If you are getting flare due to a filter (lenses also flare) then you simply need to learn identify lighting situations when to remove the filter. Its not a put on a forget item... its a tool that needs to be learned. If using filters properly isn't an interest of yours, then I agree... leave them off.

    Now here's a question that I haven't had the time to answer myself...

    In the film days, I relied extensively on filters (I shot mostly B&W). In digital world, I simply relied on software post processing as part of my workflow to convert to B&W. Has anyone compared the final quality of a B&W image processed completely in software to a workflow that combined real color filters with software processing?
  18. Djarum

    Djarum Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Dec 15, 2009
    Huntsville, AL, USA
    I use ND and polarizing filters all the time. The clear protection filter gets used if I'm at the beach or hiking in a precarious environment.
  19. MikeR_GF1

    MikeR_GF1 Guest

    I have to say, I'm really glad I asked the question. I've learned quite a bit from all of these replies. (One of the things I'm learning is, at 70, I feel like a kid in his first class on a new subject.)
  20. mattia

    mattia Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 3, 2012
    The Netherlands
    There are zero reasons related to image quality to use a skylight or UV filter. It's purely lens protection. Hence my choice to leave it off unless, rather than the reverse.
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