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How many use UV filters for lens protection?

I'm curious to know how many of the MFT's members use filters to protect their expensive lenses, and if you think it affects image quality adversely.

Select one of the choices shown and then press Submit

I don't believe they affect image quality and use filters.:
I do believe they affect image quality but use them anyway.:
I do believe they affect image quality and won't use them.:
Other: (Explain Below):

by Blayne Gervais Win ¤ $

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UV-filter = strange colours

When I bought my E-1 I also bought a slim UV-filter (old habit). The first week I used the camera I was quite unhappy with it because I thought all colours were strange and unnatural. So I checked the E-1 manual. This it what it says on page 164:

"Halation produces unnatural the picture.

Halation produces unnatural colors in the picture. Possible cause This may be caused by excessively bright ultraviolet light on the subject, such as sunlight shining through the leaves or trees, window frames in bright light at night, reflection of metal in direct sunlight, etc.

Corrective action ● Use a UV filter. As this may upset the overall color balance, it should only be used in the conditions described on the left. ● Process the picture using a graphics application that supports JPEG (Paint Shop Pro, Photoshop, etc.). For example, after picking up unnatural colors with a syringe tool, etc. , you can select color areas, and try color conversion or saturation adjustment. For details, refer to the manual for the graphics application"

After I took the UV-filter off it’s been OK. :-) I guess that by the time I’ve managed to get too many scratches on the lenses, Olympus has made other lenses I would like to have (and then I will have a good excuse for buying new and better. If I haven’t switched to Canon, Nikon, Pentax or some other brand by then).

p.t. Inactive Win ¤ $ at 20:31 EST on 2004-Nov-01 [Reply]

Skylight filter 1A

The Skylight filter corrects for bluish light quality of open shade but most people use it to protect their lens from dust and scratches. Will also absorb ultra violet rays without affecting exposure.

I nicked the description off the web and I am 'most people'. I do a lot of motor sport photography in MUD, I have lost count of the number of times I might well have written off the front element of my lens due to mud and stones being thrown up by vehicles.

Rex Waygood HoF ¤1 $ at 07:57 EST on 2004-Nov-03 [Reply]

Use a filter!

A UV filter, a good UV or Skylight filter, affecting picture quality and the lens is an Old Wife’s Tale. It belongs to the realm of superstition and is touted by recreational purists who have the luxury of treating their equipment with protective gloves. I’ve tested a lens with the filter on and off, blown the image up, and have never seen a difference. Naturally, there are moments where flare may set into a shot, but it would affect the lens with or without a filter.

However, as stated above, the quality of the UV filter you use can play an important role. It’s simply logic that you put good glass in front of a good lens to protect it. I like Hoya MC. Any of the Nikon filters. Recently, for my 14-54, I got a Contax MC filter, which works nicely.

Not protecting your expensive lens with a good quality filter and relying on a cumbersome lens cap to do so is, IMHO, foolhardy. Naturally there are people who have the luxury to slowly and carefully treat and handle their glass with the utmost care, and to avoid using any filter, but the chances are that even these people will encounter situations where a UV filter should have been in place to protect their investment.

John Gilbert1 at 14:21 EST on 2004-Nov-03 [Reply]

Rubbish John Gilbert

Colour cast when using filters has nothing to do with superstition or women (married or unmarried, young or old). My B+W 67E filter (which cost 1/5 of the price of the Zuiko 14-54mm lens) gives strange colours on digital pictures. Have you ever tried shooting the same picture with and without filter with your E-1 to make a comparison? I have and I can assure you that there is a difference.

Time is also money. I prefer wearing my lenses out to spending hours adjusting colours in PS. But if I were to shoot in muddy environments like Rex I would probably be using filters and I do use filters for special effects. For ordinary daily use I won’t use filters.

p.t. Inactive Win ¤1 $ at 18:05 EST on 2004-Nov-03 [Reply]

Not rubbish, Caroline Skilbred

Yes, I very much have tried and I see no difference. You must be using cheapo filters on your lenses. You must also have the time and luxury to attend to your equipment in the field in such a caring way. I have never seen a press photographer in the field or a portrait photographer in the studio use a lens without a UV protective filter over it.

If you are experiencing shifts in color casts it may well have to do with lighting conditions and not the filter. Conditions change color shifts very quickly and as Steichen once pointed out, ‘’light is a charlatan’’, it’s never the same one place as it is another and this goes into the equation.

I frankly think that not putting a filter on your lens is sacrilegious. Quote, end quote, of course.

John Gilbert1 at 01:34 EST on 2004-Nov-04 [Reply]


If you are using a B&W filter than it certainly isnt a cheapo filter. Indeed, they are the top of the line. Yet even the best of filters like the lens itself will be affected by long exposures and shifts in lighting. Exposure times can play a great part in color shifts.

John Gilbert1 at 02:19 EST on 2004-Nov-04 [Reply]


I have discussed the use of filters with professional photographers (including press photographers). Some use filters and some don’t. Those who don’t say they think it’s ridiculous to buy expensive lenses to get good pictures and then put a filter on which reduces the quality of the pictures. I agree – especially as prices of good filters are as expensive as they are (and of course the comparison gets even more ridiculous for photographers using cheaper brands than Zuiko).

Yes, I know that change in colours can be caused by a number of reasons and those “tests” I did were not done under controlled circumstances. But as I wrote in my first comment to this thread I was unhappy with colours on all pictures the first week I had the camera and think the colours were OK after I took the UV-filter off. After that first week I discussed use of filters with other photographers, read page 164 in the E-1 manual (which recommend that filters are not used) and did those (uncontrolled) tests.

When I look at the pictures the members at this site post, there aren’t many pictures which look like the photographers don’t have “the time and luxury to attend to equipment in the field in a caring way”.

I'm not trying to persuade anyone not to use filters. I'm just saying that I don't and explaning why I don't. :-)

p.t. Inactive Win ¤1 $ at 09:39 EST on 2004-Nov-04 [Reply]

Do the tests and come to your own conclusions.

I have been photographing since 1960 with everything from a Kodak Brownie to a Calumet 8x10 monorail camera, and nearly everything in between, with lenses both new and antique, cheap and expensive. Some photographers use a filter to protect their lenses, some don't. We all know the arguments on both sides. Because of strongly held beliefs, the argument comes down to a draw.

I suggest you test your theories with the camera. Use any lens you like, but I only own the 14-54, so that is the one I will refer to. Set your camera on a tripod. (Yes, use a tripod to be totally fair.) Add no sharpening. Set sharpness to "0". Choose a scene, set your camera to the appropriate white balance (do not use auto white balance), set the camera in manual mode and make an exposure. Check the histogram and make sure you have a perfect exposure with no blown highlights.

Now, make an exposure using the SHQ JPEG & RAW mode, zoomed in all the way to 54mm, without a UV or Sky filter. Duplicate the exposure with a filter.

Repeat the same exposures with the lens set at 14mm. Repeat again roughly halfway between.

If you like, make the same exposures again using your normal sharpness settings. (I use +2.)

Then, go to another scene and repeat the whole process. Make sure to use a variety of subjects. Choose an many various subjects as you like, but I suggest at least three test images, more being better.

Most importantly, check out what happens at 14mm near the edges. Find a light colored tall building with some details and place the top edge of the building very near the top and or top corner of the frame. Do the same with some distant trees or branches, You want to find something with sharp edges and some contrast and place this near the edge of the frame.

Go home, download the images and check it out yourself in Photoshop at 200%, or more.

I have done these tests with the E-1. I did them nearly a year ago. The results surprised even me! I even tested two other 14-54mm lenses (one a friends and one from a camera store) because the results shocked me, and I even contacted Olympus with the results. Here is my conclusion.

Filters had no affect on the image whatsoever. I did discover that this lens (as do most zoom lenses) has a significant amount of chromatic aberration, especially at the wider settings. Olympus told me this was "purple fringing" due to the physical properties of the sensor and the physics of light striking the sensor "well" near the edge of the sensor and bouncing or reflecting to an adjacent pixel well. They could never explain why examples of purple fringing I found on the Internet from other lesser cameras was always purple (hence the name "purple fringing"), and the "purple fringing" with the 14-54mm lens on the E-1 was red on one side of a sharp line and cyan on the other. I know from previous lens tests done decades ago that this is called Red/Cyan Chromatic Aberration. This aberration is the main reason I use Photoshop Image RAW to convert my RAW images. There is a chromatic aberration correction tool In Adobe Camera RAW, and I find that about -40 aligns the colors properly. I had similar results with all three different lenses.

Anyway, I have found that the chromatic aberration inherent in this lens is significantly more troublesome than any possible degradation from a quality filter. Perhaps a filter will present a little bit of lens flare if shooting into the sun. But that is all I have ever found using a good filter on this lens. I have in fact never found serious degradation of image quality with any lens, from old Dagors, Tessars to the best modern lenses. But I have seen lenses with scratched front surfaces and photographers crying about the damage to their glass.

And I wonder to myself why, if we are so critical of image degradation from a piece of optical glass, why are we not so critical about camera shake or other photographer induced image quality issues. (i.e. "Is Focus Overrated".) I think it comes down to the tendency of photographers to want the "best" equipment to make the best images. When a photographer learns that the camera is a tool and it is the photographer that makes an image, not necessarily the camera, then their photographs begin to shine.

E. Edwin Ennor ~ (E³) HoF Win ¤ $1 at 10:33 EST on 2004-Nov-07 [Reply]

Thank you to all...

who have responded thus far. I had hoped that I might have been able to see a graph on the poll page indicating the actual percentages for the questions posed. The graph appears on some polls, but I don't know how, or why on some and not others.

It would have been interesting to know how many were / were not using filters, and to view their images here on the forum to see if there was any perceptible difference.

However, I do appreciate all the comments, and especially appreciate Edwin's great advice for conducting tests ourselves, and his observations over the many years. As they say, "The proof is in the pudding" and so for me, I'll have to conduct these tests myself and report back with my findings.

Best regards,

Blayne Gervais Win ¤ $1 at 11:08 EST on 2004-Nov-07 [Reply]

Superstition after all?

When I tested the E-1 with and without UV-filter (brand B&W) I got a yellow-grey-greenish colour cast on pictures when the filter was on.

I only tested on SHQ jpg (as that’s what I use). I tested in the morning, midday and early afternoon on a number of different subjects (buildings, parked cars, stones, trees, leaves, withered flowers – same subjects at different times of the day – this was last November. I also went back on different days to do it all over again). I used the 14-54mm lens (the only one I had that time), taking several shots of each subject using all the different ISO-settings, different apertures and different shutter speeds. All done with and without a filter (and I did use a tripod *SS*). The camera functions for saturation, contrast and sharpness were set on 0 (as that’s what I usually use) and the colour space was set to Adobe RGB. But the testing was not as “controlled” as it would have been in a studio. The colour cast was less on some pictures/in some circumstances, but this was a year ago and I don’t remember what made a difference any longer. I only have a vague idea about the colour cast being stronger on sunny days than days with an overcast.

I used both UV-filters and skylight filters on my analogue cameras without ever minding colour cast (I don’t remember getting a colour cast when using UV-filter, only when using skylight filter and that one I quite liked).

Reading about Edwin’s tests I wonder if John Gilbert is right after all; that this is mostly about strong believes and superstition (he, he – I’m not saying who is superstitious and a strong believer). :-D

I agree with Edwin that people should test for themselves (and preferably post their findings here *S*). Maybe others will find a difference with and without filter, and maybe some who may find a difference actually prefer the difference the filter makes. I also agree that the camera is only a tool – it takes a good photographer to make a good picture, not necessarily a good camera (though it helps). :-)

p.t. Inactive Win ¤1 $ at 18:17 EST on 2004-Nov-07 [Reply]

filter adamant

Well, let me explain why I was so adamant about filters not affecting the image. When I was learning photography and doing my apprenticeship at a newspaper I had the good fortune to buy a Leica M42. Now using a Leica lens has one subject to all kinds of silly and often overly hyped fanatical nonsense. I wanted to get a filter for my 50mm, the salesman at my local store, an ardent Leicaphile, told me not to put ‘’alien glass’’ in front of such a ‘’hallowed jewel’’. I was working in the field so, hey, I bought one anyway. But I did try the lens with and without a filter. Using chrome as a testing medium. And I saw no difference whatsoever. Indeed, had I not have carefully marked which was which, I wouldn’t have known which had been taken with or without. Parameters and things have changed with digital but the end result is the same, I see no difference.

Moreover, and here's the important part, Leica lenses for all their touted glory often have curious peculiarities to them. My 90mm during long exposures or even modestly short long exposures produced ghosting effects. Curious, I removed the filter to see if that was the cause. It wasn’t. With or without it was something inherent in the lens design.

John Gilbert1 at 19:28 EST on 2004-Nov-07 [Reply]

Digital vs analogue

Does this, John Gilbert, mean that you (and perhaps others) rule out the possibility that digital shooting (recording?) could be different from analogue shooting (based on tests with analogue cameras and ordinary negative and/or positive film)?

p.t. Inactive Win ¤1 $ at 21:12 EST on 2004-Nov-07 [Reply]


Good question. As far as my experience goes so far, at least as far as the filter issue is concerned, I have seen no difference. In other arenas the differences are great. I am one of those who made the transition to digital with unbridled enthusiasm, so no matter where film might still give an edge, I tend not to give it credit.

John Gilbert1 at 02:10 EST on 2004-Nov-08 [Reply]

Get the best tripods you can afford

Don’t expect your tripodless existence to continue after you’ve saved up for the 50-200mm John, unless you want to specialize in blurry pictures like I do. ;-D I regret buying the 50-200mm before buying a light tripod. I have a Manfrotto which is too heavy to carry around and now I’m trying to motivate myself to live on porridge for a couple of months to be able to afford a lighter Sachtler, which cost about the same as the 50-200mm. I swapped some pictures (with an organization, which needed pictures for their annual report) for the 50mm and a CF-card (I should have asked for an x-drive instead).

The price of extra equipment surprises me – I don’t remember filters, tripods, remote controls etc to be this expensive 20 years ago. Is it just me remembering wrong or have prices for extra equipment gone up? I had a strong motivation for using the B&W UV-filter after having paid 1/5 of the price of the 14-54mm for it, but figured out the price of lenses doesn’t make up for the colour cast (or pride/having to admit that I’ve thrown 1/5 of the price of the 14-54mm out of the window).

Over here the number one tip from experienced photographers is always: Get the best tripod you can afford. :-)

p.t. Inactive Win ¤1 $ at 06:47 EST on 2004-Nov-08 [Reply]


Get the biggest tripod you are prepared to carry round!

A very big expensive one is no good in the boot of a car!

Rex Waygood HoF ¤1 $ at 14:18 EST on 2004-Nov-08 [Reply]

Mini Morris and walking sticks

Rex: So you have a Mini Morris? I would never have guessed that. ;-) Or are you just a practical person who thinks it’s too much work and trouble to unfold and fold the tripod? :-) Carbon and aluminium tripods can be light, big when unfolded, small when folded and rock steady.

John: I can get sharp shots without tripod with the 50-200mm with focal length 150-200mm and shutter speed 1/1000 and above (if I concentrate hard, keep my breath or exhale slowly), but that’s me you know (the one who don’t even get sharp pictures with the 14-54mm). ;-)

I think you can “gain” two f-stops with a monopod (and you can use it as a walking stick, not that I’ve got the impression that you need that). :-)

p.t. Inactive Win ¤1 $ at 16:18 EST on 2004-Nov-08 [Reply]


When shooting wildlife, I often use a simple 'monopod' that allows me to hold a 300 mm on the E-1 at exposure times below 1/100 sec.

It is: - lightweight - natural camouflage coloured - non-metallic (no noise when touching a button or a zipper) - not feeling cold in winter - serving as a walking stick - for free It is a simple forked stick from the wood!

BTW, I always use filters to protect my investment. It saved the objective lens at least twice when my OM1 was dropped.

Cheers, Jens.

PS. Examples of Stick/300mm/long exposure can be seen here:

Jens Birch HoF ¤ $ at 03:36 EST on 2004-Nov-09 [Reply]

Mugged by four turds

Interesting discussion. Here's a practical perspective. Earlier this year I was mugged by four guys. I could quip a pun on that say that I was mugged by four turds. Anyway I was taking shots on the canal bank and it all happened so quickly. One of them wrestled me to the ground. The camera was around my neck and when I hit the deck the front of the lens took the brunt of the fall and lo and behold a big crack appeared there. Lucky for me I had my uv filter on and it saved me my lens. Also lucky for me the cops came and they caught two of them and I got all of my gear back albeit with a little damage. Now I am the proud owner of battle hardened gear. It is cheaper to replace a uv filter than a lens :))))))

Eugene Donohoe HoF Win ¤1 $ at 04:00 EST on 2004-Nov-10 [Reply]

Filters issue: Cuts both ways.

I've always fitted a filter from day 1 on all of my lenses. Yes, they will have some impact on your images, and on highly colour-corrected lenses, under some lighting conditions, you MIGHT find the better UV correction on modern lenses, mean that a UV filter over-corrects the colour under unsually 'pure' lighting conditons. However, multi-coatings applied to optics are only a few microns thick and damage to these, would result in a greater level of colour distortion than that of damage to a filter. For that reason alone, I'll use a filter, and one made of glass rather than resin which isn't anything like as hard. I always specify glass, because it's much harder to scratch than Resin, as can be proven from using spectacles or sunglasses using Resin instead of Glass. Even minute damage on resin will result in a loss of image quality, whilst glass will be much less prone to damage.

I suspect that the imperfections in colour rendering are more likely to be down to the limitations of CCD design, which I have noted when taking identical images, one on film which is scanned, and the other via a CCD. Film delivers a wider tolerance to exposure latitude, less chromatic distortion from the likes of the dreaded 'blue' fringing. I have to say that this effect is far less prevelant on the E-1 than most other digital cameras, and although I haven't carried out controlled tests because I'm too lazy and my skills aren't methodical enough! I'm sure that such 'faults' are aggrievated by specific lighting conditions.

One final point, totally ignorred by many people and I've never seen mentioned in any photographic magazine, is that 1 in 5 people suffer from colour-blindness to a certain extent, and when they edit images, they are doing so with imperfect eyesight! The proof of that particular pudding, can be seen in most people's living-rooms when viewing how they have set up the colour on their TV ... or computer's monitor!

Someone with marginal clour-blindness must face a real nightmare setting up their monitor & printer to ensure their images don't exhibit a colour imbalance!

Sam Chapman ¤1 at 06:01 EST on 2004-Nov-10 [Reply]

Improving your Tripod.

Firstly, if you can't justify/afford the expense of a really solid tripod, or want to improve the one you have, try the following:

Drill a 12mm hole through the bottom of the centre column of your tripod. Buy a really good serrated tent-peg which grips the ground well, and a selection of different length Aerolastics or bungees with hooks on. You will also require a small mallet to hit the peg into the ground.

Set up your tripod for the desired height etc. and lock everything down but obviously not the pan/tilt if you intend using that on a moving subject! Attach one end of a bungee to the centre column and hold down the other end of the bungee with the tent-peg inserted SECURELY at an ANGLE into the ground. Your tripod will now be a vastly more rigid platform.

Needless to say, if you don't strike the peg into the ground properly, it could get pulled out and injure you!

Sam Chapman ¤1 at 06:39 EST on 2004-Nov-10 [Reply]

skylight or UV

My E1 is on its way, so this discussion about filters has been reallly useful. I have one big question, though: do I want a Skylight filter or a UV filter? (I'm mostly going to be doing landscape, documentary, macro photography - few portraits and no studio work.)

Danny Yee ¤ $1 at 22:09 EST on 2004-Nov-10 [Reply]


I haven’t tried skylight filter with the E-1, but just in case you haven’t thought of it I would at least recommend that you get slim filters to avoid as much vignetting as possible.

p.t. Inactive Win ¤1 $ at 04:59 EST on 2004-Nov-11 [Reply]

Sam, the tent peg and the bungee

All the best ideas have already been thought of!

When I recently went into the woods using my very light weight fold up tripod I found the leaf mould produced a very unstable base for the tripod. I thought "I know I'll get a tent peg and a bungee.........."

Rex Waygood HoF ¤1 $ at 07:47 EST on 2004-Nov-11 [Reply]

Skylight or UV / Vignetting

The Skylight filter will impart a slight tinge of color to E-1 pictures in spite of the auto WB. The UV in theory imparts no color at all. However, the E-1 user manual (P. 164) suggests the possiblity that it could upset the E-1's color balance as well and only recommends very limited use under specific conditions.

I haven't experienced vignetting using the standard B+W MRC polarizing filters on the E-1. However, I don't use them on focal lengths shorter than about 20mm becaues I don't want to see a differential polarizing affect across the sky that can occur with wide angle lenses.

Tim Maurice ¤1 at 17:07 EST on 2004-Nov-12 [Reply]


Filters are cheaper than lenses. Though I believe they do affect the image quality. :)

Mark Enoch ¤ $1 at 18:19 EST on 2004-Nov-18 [Reply]