Readers: Lens Filters: To Use or Not To Use? Your 2 cents, if you please!
Image Source: John Salvador
Lens Filters: general information
For those of you who are newer to the wild, wild world of photography, there are many different kinds of lens filters, and thus they are used for varied reasons. The two most commonly used filters would be 1) Polarizing filters which are used to reduce glare and improve overall image saturation and 2) UV filters which essentially exist to provide extra protection (from scratches, cracks etc) to the front of your lens. These filters run anywhere from a few dollars (for a piece of shizizzle) all the way up to the $900 range (I’ve heard rumors that this variety is plated in gold. . . though I’ve never seen one with my own eyes, so I can’t definitively say).
My Thoughts: other photogs disagree
Earlier this afternoon, I was photographing another photographer’s maternity images (and to answer your question, yes, it’s always nerve wracking to photograph a peer— and it never, ever seems to become less so). I asked her to bring her 35mm lens (Canon L Series 1.4) for me to mess around with some at the shoot (I shoot primarily with the 24mm 1.4 and the 50mm 1.2, just FYI). When I pulled off the lens cap, I noticed the UV filter screwed to the front of the lens. Without thinking, I asked if I could take it off. She seemed really surprised by the request, and frankly, I was equally as surprised by her level of surprise!
“It protects the lens” she said.
“Yes, but you spent $1,200 on this pro grade glass, and you’re covering it up with a piece of garbage that cost you under $75. That makes exactly (less than) zero sense to me.”
She got it. But she also brought up the point that it was the very fact that she spent $1,200 on the lens that made her feel that it necessitated being protected by a filter.
This thinking makes me scratch my head.
My logic: if you’re investing that much money into image quality, which is in my mind the ONLY reason I can think of for you to spend so much on a pro grade lens in the first place, why in the name of Zeus and Achilles (respectively) would you turn right around and diminish that image quality by shooting through a $75 piece of crap (pardon my French). In my mind, it’s no different than saving all your pretty pennies to visit Florence, and then spending your entire visit in the hotel room on the off chance that you might fall down and break your leg. Sure, you’re still in Florence, but you may as well be in Salt Lake City. . . with more pasta available through room service. If I’m going to carb load, it’s going to be at a vineyard. In Tuscany. Thank you very much. Makes no sense to me.
Image Source: Bearden
Granted, this could happen to you. It’s a very real risk I’m taking going “filterless.” If this were in fact to happen to you, you’d be high fivin’ yourself until the day you died for ignoring my logic and sticking with the freaking filter (for crying out loud), and if this did in fact happen to you and you had taken my advice and opted out of the filter, I’m afraid you’ll be using my name in vein all the way to the lens mortuary.
So the question is, how BIG is the difference in quality when you shoot with a filter compared to without? In you’re opinion, is it worth the inherent risks of opting out of the filter and just taking your chances?
Your two cents in the comments below, if you please. Curious minds want to know! Mine most of all!