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!
Brenda: thank you for sharing that amazing news! I used to use a UV filter all the time, until I went to RMSP and heard Neal’s lecture, as well as a lot of others, about not putting inexpensive glass over expensive glass. Granted, my UV filters at that time were not extremely expensive ones mind you. I am definitely going to take a look at B & H at your suggestion, and check out the Singh Ray hi-lux filters. I’m currently recovering from cervical spinal surgery, fused C3-C7 and have been extremely concerned about the day the Dr. finally gives me the go-ahead to start shooting again. My camera, with battery pack and lens is going to feel so heavy for a long time, and I’ve been worrying about dropping it until I can gain strength again. This article has given me an amazing reassurance that I can feel confident in protecting my gear during my transition back into shooting! Good to hear this bit of information from a professional such as yourself….I’ll be checking out the good quality filters you’ve suggested!
Good to hear from you, Sheila. I hope the recovery is soon and complete as possible with back surgery. In the meantime, you might try little hand weights if you can manage them. It does help to keep both hand,wrist and arm strength up a little bit while you recover.
Yeah, those filters they sell you when you buy lenses are never great quality. Been there.
All best to you!
Welcome, Christa! Of course I wouldn’t be doing this if it weren’t optical top-quality glass in that filter! Some ideas take a while to fade away amongst ‘older’ pros who for years didn’t trust filters…
But as a word of caution: Any filter can cause more flaring when shooting towards or into the sun, so I do take it off when photographing in that situation, to reduce any additional risk of flaring. Then it goes back on – except the odd time like in Alaska.. 🙂
That’s exactly what I have been telling guys/pros who try to make me remove my UV filter from my 100-400: If this thing ever gets a beating, I’d rather replace the filter than the whole lens. And I’ll keep shooting until I get home from whatever rugged place I’m in at the time. Because I can’t (afford to) carry two of those lenses. So thanks for confirming, Brenda!
THANK YOU for “coming clean’ on protective filters Brenda! I hope you copy Lewis Kemper on this one. He convinced me to pull my UV filter and promise to never put it back on again. I really wish I had left it on. I’m not sure I’ll ever get that lens as clean as it once was. I once dropped a lens on pavement, and all that died was the filter. That experience should have convinced me then and there. So yes, I will be filter shopping!
I know, Walter. I will pass it on to Lewis, but we’re all so individual. I was a ‘non-believer’ like him until earlier this year! lol. It’s something I avoided for a long time, but I ‘beat up’ my gear over time playing around in sand, salt and the like so I decided to give it a try. I know several pros using this HiLux filter from Singh so I gave it a try.