Thread: UV and The Protective Filter - Modern Myth?

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  1. #1 UV and The Protective Filter - Modern Myth? 
    Senior Member Zack Birlew's Avatar
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    Hi, everybody, after looking into the lens rehousing options at NAB and seeing the different makes and styles, I had asked about adding a protective UV filter to the rehoused lens and received a response that has me puzzled. Whenever I purchase a lens, I know that I need to immediately purchase a protective UV filter (usually B+W or Hoya) to keep the front element protected and pristine. I never take the filters off unless I have to clean them on occasion and I even kept them on while filming my first feature this past summer and I am very lucky I did as we were working in some very dusty conditions. However, talking to people at NAB about it made me feel like I was doing something wrong as the consensus was to remove any UV or protective filters before filming if not completely disregarding having any filter protection at all due to reflections “and other things”. After the show, I also was looking at auction sites for certain lenses to invest in to eventually rehouse and it all clicked when I kept finding supposedly “Mint” or “Near Mint” lenses that had “slight scratches” or “dust” or even “light haze” or even straight up “fungus”! If protective filters had been used then perhaps these lenses wouldn’t have been in these sadly poor conditions! Now, even though most of the rehousing groups I was interested in did include filter threads, I ask you, with all the multicoating, anti-reflective finishes, and advances in optical construction these days, how can anyone make the argument of not protecting their lenses or, more importantly, their investment? Granted, cheap UV filters can mess up your image results but if someone were going to be putting down money on a $3,000+ rehousing job for a lens, I would hope they wouldn’t be foolish enough to throw on an Amazon Basics UV filter for it! What are your thoughts and opinions? Do you film with protective filters or remove them before filming or stills shooting? What is the stigma about protective filters?
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  2. #2  
    Senior Member Nick Morrison's Avatar
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    Yes protecting your lens is important, but reflections as you shoot are worse.

    If your front lens gets scratched you just get it replaced (if its a modern cine lens).

    Not saying a protective filter isnt good, but lots of filters can do this (ND, filtration, polarizer)...at least those DO something.
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  3. #3  
    Moderator Phil Holland's Avatar
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    Pretty much a no unless conditions dictate otherwise. And usually in that case I go with an optical clear in a 4x5.65" or screw-in.

    Otherwise my lens is nude and exposing it's elements to the erm... elements. Occasionally ND, Difffusion, Circular Pola, etc.... But otherwise naked glass.

    But I will say a good matte box can help protect you even when moving the camera by tossing the eyebrow over the lens whenever the camera is not rolling for a while.
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  4. #4  
    Senior Member Steve Sherrick's Avatar
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    I’ve developed a bit of OCD over the past few years and as such I’m constantly trying to keep gear in pristine condition. That includes lenses. And my instinct says to keep something in front of lens to protect it like a clear filter. But I think it’s counterintuitive to the goal a lot of times. Why put another piece of glass in front of the beautiful lens you pay a good amount of money to get the exact type of image you want? Like today i was walking around with my Nikkor 50mm F1.2 with no filters and I felt weird about it because the OCD side of me was kicking in saying put a filter on to protect the glass. But with cinema lenses this is never the case. Mattebox does most of the protecting or an optical clear for tough conditions where particles might fly at the lens. A lot of times certain scratches, cleaning marks, etc may make no difference in image quality and just becomes an aesthetic issue. just depends on the lens. I’ve seen some very experienced photographers handle their lenses like a carpenter handles their tools. concerned about getting the shots not about preserving pristine looking lens. Tough for me sometimes to get over the fear of damaging something but I realize that getting the shot is the most important thing.
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  5. #5  
    I used to be like this when I started shooting until I noticed how easy it was to get ugly flares from a reflection.

    A matte box or even a lens hood offers the necessary protection from accidents. If you're going to be in an environment where things could strike the front element like gravel or debris from charges there should be protective clear filter in the matte box or on the lens.

    Keeping lenses from getting scratched and dirty I imagine comes more from cleanup and storage after use than from shooting conditions.
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  6. #6  
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    Cinema filters are typically uncoated for only one reason: Rental houses convinced old school filter manufacturers to NOT coat cinema filters because of coating damage due to poor cleaning techniques by renters causing scratches in the then soft anti-reflective coatings. Times have changed. Today there are high quality filters with relitively hard and very effective anti- reflective coatings such as Nisi Nanos and Hoya Digital Pro to name a few. I have seen no tests to verify or debunk this old filter theory of "bare glass is best" considering what is available today. I personally keep high quality filters on all of my glass to preserve and maintain my pristine front elements and have noticed no adverse image effects. Always good to use a matte box unless I want flares. I usually don't as I find them usually distractive to the story being told.
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  7. #7  
    Coming from a broadcast background, I've always had protective filters on the front of my lenses out in the field. And they have saved more than one front element. I still have clear Schneider filters on all of my 2/3" HD ENG lenses and on my Canon 17-120. That being said, I do not have protective filters on my CN-E primes, mostly because they are 99.9% used inside in controlled/"low danger" situations.
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  8. #8  
    image quality > $
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  9. #9  
    I haven't used a UV filter in over a decade but I own two 82mm Tiffen filters which I would use in the event something might splash or otherwise dirty the front element of any of my lenses. On a related note, something I noticed a lot of people are doing these days are using lens cleaning cloths, which to my mind is a terrible idea. I'd suspect that practice causes more damage than not using UV filters.
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  10. #10  
    What do you use to clean/wipe your lens instead of lens cleaning cloths? something like pec pads?
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