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Lens Hood/Lens Cap or UV filter for protection of Lens?

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by MrDoug, Jan 24, 2012.

  1. MrDoug

    MrDoug Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Sep 5, 2011
    Boise, Idaho
    What are your takes of using a lens hood vs UV filter or Clear filter for lens protection.. if you don't want to use or a keep lens cap on when you put your camera back in the bag.... I hate Lens caps.. a big pain in the you know what.. I hear most Pros throw the Lens caps in the box the lens came with.. I prefer to just put a UV filter on or Clear filter and put the lens cap back in the box that the lens came with as well... In other words.. what is best way to avoid using a lens cap..?????
  2. Promit

    Promit Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 6, 2011
    Baltimore, MD
    Promit Roy
    No UV filters, no handicapping good glass with bad glass. A lens hood at worst does no harm, a UV filter at best does no harm.
  3. MrDoug

    MrDoug Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Sep 5, 2011
    Boise, Idaho
  4. Grinch

    Grinch Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jan 9, 2011
    Hood is an always for me, cheap protection plus better contrast. Bang up a hood it will still come off, bang up a filter and it may be one the lens for good. I only use filters if it will improve the shot. Also can't justify cheap glass to cover up quality glass. Hood + cap = cheapest security of investment.
  5. supermaxv

    supermaxv Mu-43 Veteran

    Sep 20, 2011
    I agree with the others. At this point, if I want to protect the lens I use a hood. Otherwise it has a cap when it's at home. I see no point in using cheap filters in an attempt to protect the lens.
  6. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    There are two considerations - one is image degradation and two is actual lens protection.

    The first one is pretty obvious... a filter can degrade your image (though a high quality one will probably give no noticeable degradation), whereas a hood will only improve image quality by reducing flare and increasing contrast.

    For the second matter, there are different types of things to protect the lens from. For most people, they are primarily concerned about bump protection and fall protection. For bump protection a hard hood is often best. Filters are not that cheap and using one without a hood can be costly. Yes it's cheaper to replace than a scratch on the front element, but a hood could help prevent that scratch without allowing any damage. For fall protection though, the filter can actually put your lens in danger! A filter is much more fragile than the robust, heavy-duty front element of a lens. That means that if a lens falls the filter is the first thing to shatter, which can leave shards of glass to scratch up your front element. Your element will easily outlast a flimsy filter. This concept could also be applied to bump protection as well, except that the chances of applying enough force to shatter a filter by bumping it into something is much less likely than with a fall.

    On the other hand... a hard lens hood will help to absorb the shock of impact in the case of a fall, helping to protect the lens from shattering. So it provides only positive shock protection, a physical barrier from objects, AND it improves image quality. That really sounds like a win-win to me...

    I'm not saying that it's necessarily bad to use a UV filter. In some cases (ie, like blowing sand, etc.) it can offer protection where a hood cannot. Some also find the flat glass to be easier to clean, particularly in the rain. However, it can also cause negative effects in the case of both image degradation as well as lens protection. So you should consider its use with caution. On the other hand... a hood only provides positive advantages that I know of. The only real consideration is whether or not the size of it bothers you.

    However, also don't forget the third option... why not use both a hood and filter together?
  7. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    If you have a deep enough hard hood, then you don't need a lens cap. In fact, you would need one more for a filter that's out in the open.

    However, if you have a wide angle or petal hood then the hood may not offer that much protection.
  8. ripleys baby

    ripleys baby Part time philistine

    Aug 10, 2011
    Leave your lens cap at home. Use the lens hood that came with the lens.
    Forget filters.
    Have a read of this Mr Doug.
    Dirty lens article

    This link may have been put up before. Though there are probably many that have not seen it.:smile:
  9. punkman

    punkman Mu-43 Regular

    Dec 30, 2011
    I'm a newbie, but here are some thoughts.

    $10 filter on a $1500 lens = no

    $100 filter on a $200 lens = no

    I don't mind using caps, even if I have a filter for protection. I think the less you have to clean the front element, or the filter, the better. The cap keeps stuff out.

    I don't think I can see a difference when using my cheap filters. I have one that cost $3 and another that cost $15. I'll try to take some pictures using a tripod, and then we can do a blind test, see if anyone can spot a difference.

    I think you've all seen that guy that is obsessively cleaning his lens every couple of shots. Don't be that guy. Most people seem to underestimate
    how much abuse their lens can withstand, and still take perfectly fine pictures. Here's a great article illustrating this point: Dirty lens article
  10. photoSmart42

    photoSmart42 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 12, 2010
    San Diego, CA
    Hood and cap for me. Got rid of my UV filters. Cap isn't that much of a pain - I take it off and put it in my back pocket at the beginning of the shoot, and forget about it until I'm done.
  11. fredlong

    fredlong Just this guy...

    Apr 18, 2011
    Massachusetts USA
    Filters are for correction or effects, not protection. I used to sell them as protection because that was my job. There's a much higher mark-up on filters than bodies and lenses.

    I always use a hood if I have one for the lens. With legacy lenses I try to use one appropriate for the angle of view rather than it's original hood.

    Lens cap stays on until I'm using the lens, then it goes in my pocket. So far, since 1980, I haven't lost one while shooting. I do misplace them at home and have extras for most lenses laying around.

  12. MrDoug

    MrDoug Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Sep 5, 2011
    Boise, Idaho
    Thanks for all the suggestions.. much appreciated.. :smile:
  13. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    Mine usually go in my back pocket or a side pocket of my camera bag. I can't remember really losing one, but there have a been a number of times I've THOUGHT I lost one until it later turned up because I somehow missed it.

    I have had a number of center pinch caps break though. Many people praise the center pinch style and I will say that it is much more convenient to use with a lens hood. However, it's not as durable a design as the outside-pinch caps. The springs used in center-pinch caps can fall out on you over time.
  14. Sammyboy

    Sammyboy m43 Pro

    Oct 26, 2010
    Steeler Country
    I often use filters for protection, any one that does photography inside heavy manufacturing plants such as steel mills and the like knows it's a very hostile environment with many unknown particles flying around just looking to invade that front lens element.
    • Like Like x 1
  15. jambaj0e

    jambaj0e Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Aug 31, 2010
    Damn, I've been using B+H UV filters on all my lenses. I feel it's safer, plus easier to clean off... but is it really that bad? They do cost quite a bit at $40-55 a pop, too
  16. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Oct 1, 2010
    I don't think so. It's fairly unlikely that the surfaces of a filter will be anything but flat and parallel, so the next consideration is light loss. A modern multicoated filter virtually eliminates that as an issue. Try for yourself. Shoot some demanding subjects -- gridwork maybe, another with the sun just outside the field of view, etc. and see if you see any difference. I doubt if you will.
    When I was a lot more serious and carried a bunch of lenses, all the caps were painted on the outside with Da-Glo orange paint. I didn't paint the insides because I didn't want to worry about having the paint flake and leave me with stuff on the glass. But the orange gave me a much better chance of spotting a wayward cap.
    Amen. The hoods on those old lenses (metal Nikon) looked like they had been through WWIII, but I never damaged a lens.

    Re caps, I reverse my hoods when the cameras are in the case, so I like to use caps to protect the filters or lens front elements from dust and from rubbing against something.
  17. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    A B+W filter will likely not show any adverse affects, as they are made with very high quality glass. However, it won't add to your image quality and it'll still be more dangerous in the case of a fall than without it. A hood will help for both IQ and shock absorption. If you feel the B+W filter makes it easier to clean off your lens though, then that is still an advantage.

    In other words, those quality B+W filters are definitely not bad... but they don't really do much good for all that money you're spending on them, either.
  18. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Oct 1, 2010
    YMMV of course, but my experience is that the filter rim often absorbs impacts by bending, something the lens rim would otherwise do without the filter in place. Recently my G1/14-140 tried to commit suicide by jumping off a table. The impact, on the edge of the filter, shattered the filter and severely bent its rim. It unscrewed from the lens just fine and the lens was unaffected.

    Now, certainly an impact could cause enough rim damage the the filter gets stuck in place, but at that point you still may have fewer problems that you would have if the filter had not been there to absorb part of the impact energy and reduce G-forces on the lens itself.
  19. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    That is probably true about protecting the rim, but it's the shattering glass part that I consider dangerous. :) 
  20. GaryAyala

    GaryAyala Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    Every lens I've ever owned, from the 1960's to 2012, has had a protective filter.

    A protective filter is the cheapest insurance one can purchase for a lens. Over time, my insurance policy has paid off on many occasions. On those occasions I've removed the mechanically broken or chemically damaged filter and continue shooting, barely missing a stride.

    I've performed my own test using no filter, cheap filters, mid-priced filters and expensive filters. Lens flare notwithstanding, I discovered absolutely no significant image difference between any of the filters and no significant difference between the filtered images and the no filter image.

    Lens flare increases with protective filters. The cheaper the filter the greater the lens flare.

    I also use hoods because:
    1) hoods block out light which may effect the meter and image but you can't see in the viewfinder;
    2) hood offer some protection to the lens; and
    3) typically, a lens with a hood is a lot sexier than a lens sans hood.

    For me changing lenses is all about speed. I never use lens caps when shooting because it just slows you down. I use Domke bags because they they are fast ... very easy to get lenses in and out.


    PS- I lose caps all the time. It is just a bit annoying from a monetary standpoint because I rarely use them ... but still like to have them around.
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