I never used to keep a filter over my lens, once I turned pro, for two reasons. 1) The common feeling was “why put cheap glass in front of expensive lens glass?” and 2) changing it out for a polarizer or warming filters was a ‘nuisance’. With event and travel photography, you needed to be able to quickly mount the right filter and not be fussing with a lot of on/off moves. I treated my gear much like many photojournalists did, but their gear was covered by the newspaper or magazine they worked for if they were staff. But that was then, and with digital white balance, I only have to change out the filter for a polarizer, now, and my work doesn’t require as much rapid filter changing. Last Fall, when my Canon 100-400mm took a dive (with 5D MK II attached) off the tripod, the polarizing filter on the front took the beating – but it saved the lens. I still had to service it to get the filter off and replace the outer threaded ring to accept new filters, but the expensive glass was saved. That was a wake-up call for me! It could have happened when I wasn’t using the polarizer. I realized that I was being rather foolish. Protective skylight and UV filters had come a long way since I first rejected them. When Singh-Ray showed me their Hi-Lux UV filters, I was willing to try using filters again. They are terrific! I haven’t seen a perceptible problem using them. In fact, they warm ever so slightly and I think they clean haze up a tad, too. I now have one on all my lenses. On my recent photo tour to Alaska, it was easier to keep the filter clean in salty misty air than always wiping down the front lens element. So if you are thinking of protecting your lenses, I can recommend Singh’s Hi-Lux filters. I just love them and it feels good to know my lenses are safe and I haven’t compromised image quality anymore. And yes, I still have to take it off to put on the polarizing filter, but usually I’m not in that big of a hurry. I plan ahead and either have it already on or have time to switch them out if needed.
When you think you’ve learned something, sometimes you need to learn it again. I thought I had zipped up my backpack when I swung it up on my back in Alaska on a glacial moraine, but alas, I hadn’t. Dumped half my gear, but all was well except for the lens that had no lens cap and no filter…So this is not a promotion, it’s more a revelation of the need for filters if you are in rough, rugged environments as I often am. And for how filters have improved. If you do decide to buy however, click on this link and type in “singh-ray” and you’ll find the filter in the size you need at B&H. Your support is appreciated!