On this video photographer Matt Granger (aka ThatNikonGuy), gives his opinion about the use of UV/clear filters and why – in his opinion – these are useless – we actually disagree so watch the video and read on.
Here is the basics premise of Granger argument against UV/clear filters as useful protectors for your lens – he thinks that the chances that something will hit your lens directly from the front (when you are using a hood) is very small and even if it will it will break the filter and scratch the lens anyway. Otherwise the lens is less scratch prone than you might think and it is thick enough to resist small hits/scratches. As for dirt – he claims it is as easy to clean a front element of a lens as it is to clean a filter. Finally a filter cos extra money and in some cases it can reduce the quality of your images (depending on the filter and where you shoot).
We actually have a problem with all these arguments. Although we do agree that you should use a hood whenever possible, as it is a great way to protect your lens – sometimes you don’t have it (like with old lenses),, forget it or for some reason don’t want to use it (too big?). In all these cases your lens is exposed – and contrary to what Granger depending on the specific lens it can get scratched and we have seen enough scratched lenses to attest to that. Even if you always use a hood – dirt is always an issue – from our experience cleaning a filters way (way) simpler than cleaning the front element of a lens – as you can hold it from both sides – and for this reason alone buying a clear filter is a good enough reason in our book.
If you worry about reduction in image quality – but a good enough filter (there are enough reviews on-line and you can test yourself and see if you see a difference in any photo you are making. Finally if you do have a super important image to shoot – take off the filter shoot – and put it back on.
At the end of the day a clear filter is simply good to have – we have been using it on all of our lenses for years and if you think that it is not strong enough – just watch this Kenko filter demo from Photokina 2012 (there are other similar filters from other manufacturers: