To Use A Filter Or Not Use A Filter? To Have My Lens Use A Hoodie or Not use a Hoodie?
These are age old questions. that have existed in photography since hoods and lenses came into existence.
The use of UV or protective filters is a matter of personal choice and to be honest I have never quite come to grips with the answer.I have written articles about why people should use filters, and the advice concerning protection has always been good advice because so many people are simply not careful when it comes to moving around with their lenses on their cameras. That includes me and everyone else I know.
Filters are a hard call. For as long as I have been shooting, and it has been a long time, everyone has said to use filters. Originally it was not so much for protection as it was for image quality. UV filters handled the adverse effects of UV rays on images and Skylight filters had a slight warming effect. The argument then was between the differences that UV and Skylight filters had in the final rendering of the image.
There were also the stories of professional press photographers on assignment in the city would get a call and think nothing of dumping cameras and lenses on the back seat of their cars or car trunks and drive off with everything bouncing into each other giving the eventual highly sort after weathered look. And yes I knew many who did exactly this. I think they gave up on filters after they banged enough lenses together so that a wrench had to be used to remove the filters.
Much later it became about protection because it was easy to mar the multi coatings technology on lenses and filters would protect them. Finally we went to neutral color filters which has no UV effect or warming effect but were purely for protection of the front elements, but by then coatings became a lot tougher as well. Somewhere in the middle of this, filters also became multi coated so they would keep up with lens multi coatings and not degrade the image. Hmmm. Now we were talking about degrading images and whether filters should really be used at all.
Now the issue is whether or not lens technology with higher resolutions has surpassed what the filters can transmit and because megapixels are growing in cameras so is the need for much better optics and expensive optics to keep up. If the filters are not keeping up then are they degrading the resolution quality of the lens? I am not so sure that filter ad hype about how great the newer filters are can stand up to the test. Just an opinion.
I use lens hoods on every lens and the reason is to prevent light from above or the sides effecting the image quality such as a lowering of contrast in the image to flare in some cases. A lens hood can also aid in keeping rain off the front element in some cases.If I am going into some rough terrain or very misty or foggy climate areas where I will be wiping the lens more often, then I use a filter.
Does it effect the image quality. Cheap filters will. B+W, Heliopan, Carl Zeiss all make very excellent filters if you decide you need one. I have played back and forth with filters on and filters off and maybe it is just a head thing but I do prefer to keep the filter off when conditions are safe enough which is most of the time.
But I always, always use my lens hoods. And hoods are not just for sunny days. They are for all the time. Indoors, outdoors, cloudy days, any time. They do protect the front element and they will always help you to produce the best images possible.
What filters do I use? Polarizer and Neutral density filters. I have written about them before and I shall again but in the meantime check them out at your local camera store. How do I use them? Join our teachers at a field trip or workshop.