A while back I wrote a post called The Problem With Using Filters On Your Camera Lenses.
There were several discussions on Google+ about the post with several people contacting me to assure me that they had been saved by a UV filter and that unrecoverable harm would have been done to their lens without the protection of a filter, etc., etc., etc. As I said in the original post, in decades of photography this hasn’t been a problem for me, but apparently there are a rash of front-element-seeking projectiles out there just randomly “destroying” people’s lenses. Or maybe many of them work at camera store counters and have an agenda!
In any event, I contacted nearly a dozen of these people – particularly the ones who emailed me – and not one could provide me with ANY evidence of the doom and gloom they had avoided by using a filter. In the events where there was actually some impact on their lens, I question several things about these stories.
First, several admitted they did have their lens hoods on and this might have deflected or otherwise contributed to the object not damaging the lens. I would conclude that in most cases – as in almost each and every one – as in all but maybe one out of 100,000 – this is enough protection.
Several went on to share wild stories about the $500 worth of damage their $30 filters had saved them from. 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. Not exactly $500 now is it? Also, how do they know that something strong enough to break their cheap plastic filter wouldn’t be strong enough to pierce the much stronger lens glass? I predict that in most cases where these mysterious flying objects happen to just zero in on a camera lens do in fact hit the lens element, they would have also destroyed any filter on their way to their targets.
Others I contacted went on to vehemently repeat the camera salesman’s meme that you MUST have a filter no matter what. I guess facts don’t ever into the decision-making process for some people.
Look folks, if you want to degrade your image quality by using a UV filter, or you just feel the need to give a $20 bill (or more) to the salesman’s kids for Christmas (which is pretty much why this meme was started) then by all means. . . slap that puppy on there. Enjoy.
The point of my post was to simply make people aware of the issue from my point of view, and let the chips fall where they may. But the next time you hear someone swear up and down on a stack of Bibles that a UV filter “saved” their lens – ask for more details. Ask for some proof. I have literally hundreds of thousands of photographers interacting with me online and I’m still waiting for ANY proof, let along substantial proof of this widespread problem :)
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