All About UV Filters

UV filters – do you need them or not?

It’s a question that comes up all the time in photography circles with usually about half the people thinking they need UV filters and the other half thinking the fist half is crazy! So, what’s the truth?

To find out, I put everything to the test in the video below and answer questions like:

1. Do you need a UV filter to filter out UV Haze?

2. Do you pay a penalty in sharpness?

3. Do they increase flare?

4. Are they really cheap insurance?

5. Do they REALLY protect your lens?

The surprising answers are found in the video below:

The photos below will make a LOT more sense if you watch the video first 🙂

Click the photos below to get full-size versions (note – if you click the photo and see a magnifying glass when you hover over, click again for the full-size image)

UV Color Test (Tiffen UV Filter, Nikon D810, 24-70)

uv vs non-uv color comparison

UV Sharpness Test (Tiffen UV Filter, Nikon D810, 24-70) Note, these are crops from the images compared above.

UV filter vs no filter sharpness

UV filter vs no filter sharpness

UV filter vs no filter sharpness

UV filter vs no filter sharpness

UV filter vs no filter sharpness

Flare tests:

UV filter vs no filter flare test

UV filter vs no filter flare test

UV filter vs no filter ghosting

Filter drop test results:

Filter Test 1 – No weight added

An initial test at half height (24 inches), all filters tested failed. As I mention in the video, I thought SOMETHING would survive. I should have started lower, I just didn’t think anything would break this easily.

Promaster HGX 62mm
Promaster DHD 62mm
Promaster Standard 62mm
Nikon 62mm
B+W 52mm
Nikon 52mm
Tiffen 52mm

Filter Test 2 – No weight added

For this test, I started out MUCH lower:

Promaster 62mm – Broke at a 5″ drop
Tiffen 52mm- Broke at a 5″ drop
Hoya 52mm – Broke at an 8″ drop
B+W 52mm – Broke at an 8″ drop
Canon 58mm – Broke at an 8″ drop
Nikon 52mm – Broke at a 13″ drop
Hoya 67mm – Broke at an 18″ drop

Lens Test Results:

No lens broke or was damaged in any way with the unweighted shuttle at any height. In order to get any lenses to break, we had to drop from the top with weight added. No filter tested could have survived even a 24-inch drop with no weight added.

Canon 35-70 Zoom – 48.5″ + 3/4lb combined weight
Sigma 75-300 AF Zoom (note this was after the drop test since the front element was still intact) 48.5″ + 3/4lb combined weight
Nikon 35-80 AF – 48.5″ + 1 full lb combined weight
Canon 50mm 1.8 – 48.5″ + 1 full lb combined weight
Vivitar 28-90 Series 1 – 48.5″ + 1 1/4 full lb combined weight
JCPenny 70-200 – (note this was after the drop test since the front element was still intact) 48.5″ + 1 1/4 full lb combined weight
Osawa 135 48.5″ + 3 full lb combined weight
Canon 70-200 Zoom 48.5″ + 4 full lb combined weight

Also, note that once we got over 1 Lb combined weight, the force of the blow did cause internal damage on both bare lenses and those protected by filters. Lenses simply do not like being hit hard.

Finally, feel free to add your own comments and info below. Thanks!

~Steve

PS…

If you enjoyed this article, I think you’ll REALLY like my e-books, Secrets To Stunning Wildlife Photography and Secrets To The Nikon Autofocus System. They’re filled with hundreds of pages of information just like this. Check it out – click here (hey, it’s free to look 🙂 )

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