The Problem With Using Filters On Your Camera Lenses « Photofocus

Just like the meme that you should change your oil every 3,000 miles or have your teeth cleaned every six months, the photographic retailers have their own meme going – you should buy a UV filter to protect your lens.


While I am sure many of you – maybe even most of you – have fallen for this, it’s not necessary. In this post I’ll give you my opinion as to why you don’t need such a filter and further, discuss a few pitfalls of filters in general.

Let’s work backwards. Filters in general cause several problems. They may induce flare, either the visible kind that results in small starbursts of light appearing on your image, or the more insidious kind – light refraction, which ends up reducing image contrast. These problems are caused by light leaks between the filter and lens, and the inner reflective surfaces of the filters themselves, as well as a few optical phenomena, the discussion of which would be beyond the scope of a simple blog post.

Scott Bourne at Photofocus hits the nail on the head again. I always fell for this, until a couple of years ago when I decided I couldn’t afford the really expensive UV filters, read about a bit and decided they simply weren’t worth the effort anyway.

One lens I own still has a UV filter—the Sigma 10–20mm. I’m not sure why, to be honest.

1 thought on “The Problem With Using Filters On Your Camera Lenses « Photofocus

  1. I too fell for this years ago and still have 2 uv filters lying around. Scott Bourne also advocates the use of lens hoods for the same reason, the light refraction on the front element of the lens due to side light. He claims, and it makes sense to me, that the hood creates better image contrast and clarity. He mentioned this in one of his podcasts fairly recently, and he uses hoods all the time, even indoors. I have used hoods for some years and wouldn’t be without one. Any new lenses I buy without a lens hood, gets one instead of buying a uv filter. Good post, Heather, on a controversial subject.

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