01-20-2012, 05:17 PM #11A filter good enough to not cause significant image quality degradation costs about as much as replacing a front element.
01-20-2012, 07:31 PM #12
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.
01-20-2012, 11:28 PM #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 at 11:31 PM.