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One often overlooked aspect of digital photography is the filter on the end of your lens. It is common practice for may SLR photographers to keep a UV/Haze or Protective filter on the end lenses and as more and more switch to digital, little thought is given to that age old practice.
In principle the practice is a good one. Especially when the better lenses cost in excess of $1000USD. Adding another 5-10% onto the cost of that lens to protect against scratches, dust, sand and salt spray is a wise investment. But before you purchase a lens filter there are a few important distinctions to look for.
First, as with most things involving camera lenses, buy the best glass you can afford. Buying a cheap UV/Haze or Protection filter will result in cheaper images. In the case of a good UV/Haze filter, saving for an extra month can really make a difference as the next item points out.
Second, purchase a multicoated filter designed for digital cameras. While some companies just slap a “Digital” tag on their old stock, reputable companies have actually invested time and money to make the lenses work better with digital cameras. The biggest difference between film and digital, as far as the filter is concerned, is reflection. Because a digital sensors actually reflects more light than plain old film, a non-coated filter can cause a flaring effect on the image. An effect that goes slightly unnoticeable under most circumstances, but when lighting gets harsh, having a multicoated lens designed to reduce this extra reflection from inside the camera is worth its financial cost. There have been more than a few tests posted on the internet showing the difference in coated vs. non-coated lens filters as well as the quality of different manufacturers.
Lastly, protect the filter that protects your lens. Just because there is a protective filter on the end of your lens does not mean it’s a good idea to be abusive to the filter itself. It should still be cleaned and dusted as if it were your primary glass. That filter will show signs of scratches and mars should it be abused.
Peter is an avid photographer who enjoys travel, portraiture and wildlife photography. A travel related blog of his past and current shenanigans can be found at The Carey Adventures.