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Filters Yes or No

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by finerflower, Jul 23, 2014.

  1. I'm not sure how to do a poll on her but I'm a curious to find out something.

    Back in the SLR/film days I had a Minolta Maxxum 5 somthing or other with all the lenses, filters, remote shutter release, off cam flashes and whatnot. I gave it all away to a poor art school student a few years back as film was going by the wayside by then.

    Fast forward, I visited B&H Camera in NYC in December and decided to get back into the scene. Thats when I bought my Panny G6 with the 14-42 and 45-150 kits. Because I hadn't been into it for quite some time, I asked the salesdude what should I do about filters. He sold me two cheapo UV filters to protect the lenses. When I got back to my hotel room and put the rig together, I realized he sold me incorrect filter sizes. I hopped back onto the subway and just returned both filters as I decided not to use them. My spidey sense said they are a wast of money anyway as they degrade the images.

    My questions:

    1- I used filters (UV, circ polarizer, red, etc) but always suspected that they always caused some sort if image degradation. Do you agree?

    2- I feel on the whole, glass is pretty rugged. I'm not bothering with filters anymore because I figure, thats what lightroom and photoshop are for Correct?

    3- Those of you who do use filters, why are you using them and why dont you think you can recreate the effect in post production?


  2. Good topic. It seems many have different opinions on this. Recently I've read where many are just ditching the dust caps that often get lost and are just relying on the UV filter to protect the exposed glass.

    I've also talked to some that feel using any filter is only degrading the image and just do without. I had someone tell me that they paid for insurance so weren't worried about scratching the lens though I wonder how easy to collect this insurance if you have a scratch that visually marks an image but lens still operates?

    Me personally, I've had a 17-55 F/2.8 pricey Nikon lens that was saved by a UV filter when I loaned it a friend. In transport, he manage to destroy the filter but not a scratch on the glass somehow. So I always keep UV filters on mine or a circular polarizer.

    Regarding image quality, sure you might get a little extra flare etc if shooting into the sun or bright lights depending on angle but, I've yet see a difference in image quality when using a UV filter or without except the flare. I wasn't using the cheapest, but it was a multi-coated Hoya (not the most expensive either).

    For landscape shooters, I don't know hardly any that go without filters. Most are using anywhere from a UV, polarizer, GND or ND and I know some of the best and most respected images taken by some of the big name pros use some type of filter. and never hear them mention "I hate to do this because of quality but...".
  3. Dramaturg

    Dramaturg Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 7, 2013
    I stopped using cheapo UV filters "for protection" as they flare horribly and most likely decrease the image quality (though more expensive ones are pretty good - my $50 roddenstok UV filter, the only expensive UV filter I have, stays on my 12-50 zoom all the time as it doesn't reveal any flare or sharpness decrease). But I use ND and CPL filters for landscapes. There is no way to get around without them even with LR.

    Sent from my iPhone using Mu-43 mobile app
  4. usayit

    usayit Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    If you use cheap filters, then all bets are off...

    You'll always get both sides of the debate argued. Generally, those that value the use of filters will always choose high quality filters.
  5. alex66

    alex66 Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Jul 23, 2010
    I use filters for one reason only; I have a toddler with touchy fingers and its easier to clean the filter. I would rather not use them and once she is over that phase they will go.
  6. budeny

    budeny Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 4, 2014
    Boulder, CO
    - unless I'm in rough conditions (e.g. water or sand flying into my face and lens) I feel that keeping on good cap is enough.
    - CPL or ND filter effect cannot be done in post processing

    So far I haven't noticed any image degradation with top line B+W filters.
  7. kwalsh

    kwalsh Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Mar 3, 2012
    Baltimore, MD
    Despite years of trying to take pretty pictures, these pages on my site consistently have far, far, far more image views than anything else:


    Besides the obvious flare those tests show with cheap filters there have also been rare but clearly repeatable tests showing cheap filters occasionally degrading image quality on very long focal length lenses. In this case it appears it isn't so much the filter is "cheap" rather that it is "defective".

    Again, as the tests above show high quality multi-coated filters usually don't degrade the image quality perceptibly even in fairly harsh light. But every lens is a bit different.

    I used them frequently with my DSLR lenses in the past. I don't use them at all now with my m43 lenses. Likely I won't use them no matter what lens or system I shoot with in the future. The cost of quality filters adds up and their protection not always effective anyway. That said, there are certain shooting situations in which you might very much know in advance you want some extra protection and so it might be handy to have one around for those situations. But I've stopped putting them on all my lenses for quite sometime. On a small m43 prime it can add appreciably to the total height of the lens when it comes to putting it in a pocket too.

    EDIT: I should add for clarity, here I'm talking about clear/UV filters intended for protecting the lens front element. That's what I don't use anymore. As for things like polarizers and other filter effects that can't be done in post yes of course I still use those.
  8. yakky

    yakky Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jul 1, 2013
    It depends for me, if I need the protection, I'll use a coated UV filter, I personally have had good luck with the Agfa brand from Amazon, they are cheap and work very well. I've had horrible issues with uncoated Tiffen UV filters. For CPLs, even the cheap ones work fine, but do have a bit of color cast that require setting custom WB if shooting in jpeg.

    I still have yet to see a convincing set of images that show how filters degrade image quality. That said, those worried about a bit of dust should read this:

  9. fin azvandi

    fin azvandi Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 12, 2011
    South Bend, IN
    I could see using a UV filter in specific situations where there's a risk of something contacting the lens, but in general I'm with Yevgen and budeny - I've just got ND filters for long-exposure and polarizers because these are effects you can't really recreate in post. I'm thinking of adding a GND for some landscape scenes as well, although if the difference between highlights and shadows isn't too wide the GND effect can be recreated on the computer.
  10. Timmy

    Timmy Mu-43 Regular

    Dec 3, 2013
    Wiltshire - UK
    Filters shouldn't degrade quality as long as they're good quality. UV filters have been useful for my toddler's sticky fingers and windy days on the beach when sand gets kicked up in the air.

    CPL's can' be replicated in PP and are in my view essential for water / blue sky / hazy conditions.

    ND filters help me shoot wide open in bright sunlight - and do 30+ sec exposures for dreamy seascapes & waterfalls.
  11. biomed

    biomed Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Aug 22, 2013
    Seattle area
    I use ND filters and polarizers. All are multi-coated on both sides to help eliminate flare and internal lenses. I will use a UV filter in harsh environments like windy beaches. I also have used UV filters when shooting around geysers and hot springs in Yellowstone. I was told that droplets from the geysers and hot springs will dry very quickly on the surface of a lens and leave a permanent stain on the glass. I never took any chances to test this. Although my sunglasses (with glass not plastic lenses) did acquire some droplet marks that I couldn't remove.
  12. Fri13

    Fri13 Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 30, 2014
    1. Not really. Using a bad filter then yes, but using typical/good then no. Worst case you cause when you have short lenshood in sidelight situation and the filter brings the front glass forward and it gets sun light reflecting and revealing dust etc on it.
    Taking shots on tripod in different scenes and studio i have not found any my filter to affect to sharpness or cause vignetting.

    2. Only benefits as i mostly use CirPol filter almost all the time, especially in portraits, only avoid its use when having wide angle and taking landscape shots.
    Even today it is easier to pop a gradient filter or ND filter front of objective to get much improved exposure range for camera, give much less effort to post (or eliminating need for all). But in some situations post process is helping like when HDR is required. Color filters for B/W shots is even today important. Much better in many situations than using post process if knowing what to use.
    But again then heavy manipulation gives nicer results in hard situations.

    3. Lets take a ND filter as example, impossible to produce in post process. Gradient filters with same, unless you really can get 21 stops exposure range for single frame with your camera (impossible with current tech). Then of course polarization filters, impossible to do in post. If you want better skin tones (better than medium camera gives) then CirPol filter in portraits is a must.
    For special filters from color filters it is only for B/W and as said depends heavily is there benefits. Foe special filters like mirrors etc, they are useless. But then again filters like highlight star filters can be awesome, while can be simulated in post with layers. My one favorite is shape filters, allowing you to change bokeh look.
  13. kwalsh

    kwalsh Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Mar 3, 2012
    Baltimore, MD
    In most all situations you can do a nicer and more controlled job in post by combining two exposures instead of using the GND. Of course their are some exceptions, the most notable being with moving subjects across the gradient (beach sunsets a good example) or in the case in which there is going to be significant lens flare across the gradient (bright sun in the frame and lens flare used as part of composition being an example). Having fussed with GNDs in film days (what a pain) I pretty much never use them now as I find combined exposures to be more useful.
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