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  • Protecting you lens from being scratched

    Does anyone have any tips on the best way to avoid scratching your lens (other than being more careful lol)

    I've heard UV filters are a good way, but has anyone tried this and are there any down sides to it?

    I need to do something as no matter how careful I am I always seem to get small scratches on the lens!
    Newcastle Photography
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  • #2
    Some photogs don't like UV filters as they are just another piece of glass between the sensor and the target image and can, on occassion cause issues. If you are going to use a uv filter for lens protection (and since you seem to always get scratches I think you should) then get good quality ones - I do. Also, use dust free lens microfibre cloths for cleaning. My 2 cents worth, cheers.
    Nikon D810, Nikon AF-S 24-70mm f/2.8G ED, Nikon AF-S 16-35 f/4G ED, Nikon AF-S 70-200mm F/2.8G ED VRll, Nikon AF-S 105mm Micro f/2.8 if-ED, Nikon 300mm f/4eG PF VR IF ED, SB-600, SB-910, Nikon T14E and 17E teleconverters, Fujifilm XT-1, XF 50-140 F/2.8, XF18-135 F/3.5-5.6, XF56 F1.2, XF10-24 f4.0.
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    • #3
      1: use a lens hood
      2: be careful.
      3: seriously, just be careful.

      I've had gear for years and have never had a scratch on any of the glass
      I am responsible for what I say; not what you understand.
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      • #4
        B+W 77mm MRC (010) UV Filter Review
        There is an ongoing debate over the use of UV filters for lens protection. Neither side is wrong - they simply have differing opinions - and the freedom of choice.

        The non-UV filter users say that their lens hoods provide all of the protection they need. They say UV filters degrade their pictures. Their contingency is that they can have a damaged lens repaired under their insurance coverage (check with your insurance agent for your specific coverage details).

        Of course, an insurance claim does not put the lens back into service immediately. And an insurance claim puts a record with your name on it into the insurance company's shared claims database. Too many records in this database in a short time period will cause you to be considered a high risk.

        I am a member of the UV filter users. A high quality UV filter such as the B+W 77mm MRC UV Filter will not degrade the final picture in most instances. A very bright light in the background of your picture *may* cause the filter to generate a small amount of flare, but I rarely detect any other filter-caused image defects. If I scratch the filter, I can simply remove it and keep shooting. And yes, this has happened to me (using a $1,000+ lens). I feel much more comfortable cleaning dirt off of an $80 filter than I do from a very expensive lens. I feel a little less protective of my lenses when they are protected with UV filters as well (I might let a friend actually hold it!). Note: A UV filter is not going to save the lens from a significant impact. You will still want insurance coverage if the lens is valuable.

        Even non-regular filter users will want a filter when shooting in very dusty or harsh conditions (think salt water spray). Some lenses require UV filters to complete their weather sealing.

        Some of the Canon Super Telephoto lenses cannot take screw-in UV filters (such as the Canon EF 300mm f/2.8 L IS USM Lens and the Canon EF 500mm f/4 L IS USM Lens) but have a front element designed for protection exclusively. Is this Canon's endorsement for protective filters?

        I personally do NOT consider a low end/low cost filter to be acceptable. Many of these exist - do NOT buy them. They will degrade the quality of your pictures with contrast and flare being the primary issues. Image sharpness can be affected. You spent a lot of money for your camera and lens in quest of good quality pictures. Don't throw away your investment with a cheap UV filter.
        If you decide to get a filter, get one of good quality, and one that is multicoated to negate flaring issues. FYI, this will rule out any filter costing less than $40.
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        • #5
          I use UV filters on every one of my lenses and have never had an issue. Yes, you have to take them off every now and then to clean them. But, I'd sure rather do that than have the actual lens scratched
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          • #6
            All my lenses have decent UV filters on too
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            • #7
              I don't like UV filters since one got jammed on while I was taking photos at -8 c and I had to break the damned thing to get it off.. Ruined a good set of photos because they all came out vignetted.

              I suggest that if you do decide to use UV you use a VERY small amount of lubricant (I tend to use a teeny bit of silicon grease) on the threads.. But be careful when you put the filter away, because if you rub it, the grease will spread onto the glass.
              Smile.. Don't make me press this shutter release twice!
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              • #8
                lubricant
                hehehehehehehehehehehehehehe
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                • #9
                  Originally posted by OsmosisStudios View Post
                  1: use a lens hood
                  2: be careful.
                  3: seriously, just be careful.

                  I've had gear for years and have never had a scratch on any of the glass
                  For once, I agree with Os. And this is coming from a guy who shoots pellet guns at his subjects and constantly has to clean paint, fruit, and even fish eggs off his lens.

                  First, it's pretty hard to scratch your lens. They're pretty tough. Second, if you do get a scratch, it will not degrade your photo unless it is dead-center in your lens. Third, the cost of replacing the front element of your lens (about $200) isn't that much more than buying an expensive filter ($100+).

                  I wish I would've taken a picture of a Sigma lens I once I had...brand new, out-of-the-box, there was a huge chunk of debris inside the lens assembly. It was probably several millimeters wide, and a couple centimeters off from center. The photos from that lens were perfectly fine.

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                  • #10
                    Some things to think about:

                    Filters are much easier to break than lens front elements.

                    The shards and bent ring of a broken element increase the possibility of damaging the lens in some kinds of accidents.

                    When there is lots of blowing grit or corrosives (windy days in the desert or on the coast), it might be useful to cover the lens glass.

                    It's not clear to me that a filter will actually prevent impact damage in most sorts of accidents.

                    A filter good enough to not cause significant image quality degradation costs about as much as replacing a front element.

                    UV filtration is not useful with digital cameras.


                    FWIW, I don't use any sort of "protective" filter.
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                    • #11
                      A filter good enough to not cause significant image quality degradation costs about as much as replacing a front element.
                      That's largely going to depend on the filter size of the lens and how much the service to repair an element is. I just got a 77MM multicoated filter for my 100-400mm for $80. I figure at least $200 or more to get that front element repaired. The rest of my lenses are mostly the 58mm thread size, all of my high quality B&W MRC filters on those lenses cost me $35-40 a piece. A no brainer for that cheap.
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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by ceremus View Post
                        That's largely going to depend on the filter size of the lens and how much the service to repair an element is. I just got a 77MM multicoated filter for my 100-400mm for $80. I figure at least $200 or more to get that front element repaired. The rest of my lenses are mostly the 58mm thread size, all of my high quality B&W MRC filters on those lenses cost me $35-40 a piece. A no brainer for that cheap.
                        From Scott Bourne:

                        "Two or three mentioned 70-200 mm lenses. Funny, I called my friends who repair these lenses and asked what it would cost to replace a cracked front element. I got estimates of $125 $145."

                        B+W 77mm multicoated filter @ B&H: $70 - $116

                        Even if every drop that breaks a filter would also damage a front element enough to require replacement (extremely unlikely, given the fragility of filters), you would have to drop nearly all of your lenses in that way to make filters a cost-effective choice.

                        But hey, it's not my money.
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                        • #13
                          OTOH, you can buy a filter at a local store, and it only takes a few seconds at home to replace it.

                          Replacing the front element of a lens means sending it in to a service center and being without it for a few weeks. Maybe months, depending on where you live.

                          Sure, scratches on the front don't affect image quality. But they do sure affect resale value. If you were buying a used lens, do you want to be told, "well, the front element will only cost you $100 to replace." or would you rather be told "the front element is free of scratches."? A UV filter may not physically protect a front element, but they sure do protect those front element coatings.

                          And some lenses aren't weather-proofed without a filter on the front.

                          You can always remove a filter when the flare's an issue. You can't always remember to put one on in time to prevent a scratch to a coating. I'm a klutz. I'm paranoid about my gear, but I tend to forget that you're not supposed to swipe dust/grit off the front of a lens with a shirt tail. I shoot a lot at the beach; I shoot a lot in dusty back canyons. I'm never shooting in a studio. I lose lens caps all the freaking time. Half my lenses don't have hoods.

                          So, yes, my lenses all have good multi-coated UV filters, and not one has ever cost me more than $75. And in five years, I've replaced one because I'd so thoroughly trashed the coatings. My front elements remain pristine. Well, except for my Sigma 8mm circular fisheye which has to live its life naked and unprotected. It's got this rubbed spot in the coatings... And yes, I'm very careful with it, but I use it all the freaking time. I have no idea how it got rubbed, because the lack of the filter makes me super-paranoid and very nervous when I shoot with it.

                          I shot with an Olympus OM-10 for twenty years. I never put a lenscap on the only lens I had for it. Never used a hood. The front element of that 50mm f/1.8 is still pristine, and there is one thrashed out skylight filter on the front of it.

                          This is a personal preference. I'm a happier, less stressed out photographer putting UV filters on my lenses. That's the reason why I use them. Everybody's different. There are no absolutes on this issue.
                          Last edited by inkista; 01-20-2012, 11:31 PM.
                          I shoot with a Canon 5DmkII, 50D, and S90, and Pansonic GX-7. flickr stream and equipment list

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