When shooting film in my analog days, the question of whether or not to screw a UV filter on front of my hand-camera lenses was never actually a question. It was a given. I would always use UV filters and sometimes Skylight filters when shooting color film on my Leica rangefinder cameras outdoors.
The biggest reason why? In those days I was living in a state where the sunlight had one of the highest percentages of ultra violet in its sunlight anywhere, at sea level as well as up in the hills. Normal sunlight there rendered way more blue than yellow and it was not a pretty look. Especially when shooting color transparency film, mostly either Kodachrome 64 or Velvia and sometimes Ektachrome. Especially Ektachrome, which seemed the most susceptible to UV light of the three.
Whenever possible I would match the brand of my lenses to the brand of my filters, or the next best thing, So I accumulated a small collection of Leica UV filters as well as B+W filters made by Schneider-Keuznach, whose large format lenses I used on my 4”x5” sheet film cameras.
That particular Australian state is home to some of the most spectacular countryside in the world, but also some of the most challenging climate extremes. Especially in the desert interior where many of my corporate photography assignments took me.
Deep underground in the mines or above ground at day or night in whatever weather presented itself, I had no choice but to be well prepared so every lens was equipped with UV filters if I needed them.
If the fine red dust was blowing or the thick black dirt was flying then those filters stayed on. If not, then I removed the UV filters from my large and medium format camera lenses but kept them on my Leicas. Greater possibility of taking a fall when dodging hurtling giant dump trucks and wildly swinging cranes, you see.
Nowadays almost all my UV filters have long been retired. There are a couple of B+Ws on two small, ageing digital hand cameras and the Leica filters are stored in a box somewhere. But since then the only filters I have bought are clear glass protection filters or ND filters.
The reason? Digital cameras don’t really benefit from UV filtration. Or at least that was the word from the R&D department of the major maker of lenses (amongst other things) where my BFF worked for almost a decade.
I haven’t put any of this to the test but the experts at that company seemed to know what they were talking about. I used their lenses from the time I bought my first digital camera, until the moment I happily bought a Panasonic GH4.
I use clear glass filters on the lenses for my GH4 now too.
So, over to Kishore Sawh at SLR Lounge for his insights into the whys and wherefores of UV filtration and a great movie from Steve Parry.
UV Filters – Do You Need Them Or Not?
UV FILTERS | ARE THEY ACTUALLY USEFUL PROTECTION FOR YOUR PRIZED GLASS?
Via SLR Lounge:
The first cameras I ever shot with belonged to my dad and my uncle. I vividly remember that par for the course of shooting with those early 80’s Nikons was using a UV or Skylight filter. It was just what was done, and even recently, after digging out my dad’s old lenses which I love to shoot with on with my DSLRs, they still had those very filters on, long after the lens caps had been lost.
So if you grew up shooting film, you were probably of the mindset that shooting with these types of filters was the thing to do, and largely for protection. Protection from what? Well, a host of things from scratches, front element lens breakage, to sand, water, or any of the elements in general, and of course, UV light that often would give a strange hue to some images.
But that was then, and this is now, and digital has sort of changed things a bit, as well as have modern production processes. So the question is, should you be using a UV filter still? And does it serve any purpose as a protective element for your lenses? Steve Perry from Backcountry Gallery recently did some rather extensive, albeit not the most measured or scientific tests, to help answer these questions. The video and the conclusions of the tests have caused some brouhaha over the old debate, and about time really.
Read full article at SLR Lounge “UV FILTERS | ARE THEY ACTUALLY USEFUL PROTECTION FOR YOUR PRIZED GLASS?”
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(cover photo credit: snap from SLR Lounge)