Ever wondered if you could use a UV filter instead of a lens protection filter? The experts have weighed in, here’s our take on leaving a UV lens filter on at all times.
Words and Photography by Urrh HQ
Hop onto any photography forum and you’ll quickly see that whether or not one can leave a UV lens filter on at all times often ranks as one of the most frequently asked questions online.
Can I leave a UV filter on all the time?
There’s really no absolute right or wrong answer. Some people leave UV lens filters on all the time and wouldn’t have it any other way, whilst others think that putting an extra layer of glass in front of a camera lens can degrade image quality, collect dust moisture or cause lens flares. Some photographers simply prefer to use lens hoods for protection.
Why should I use a UV filter to protect my lens?
UV filters offer lots of benefits and they’re easy to take on and off your lens without causing any wear and tear to the threads. If you shoot outdoors, having a UV lens filter permanently on your lens will protect the front element against dirt, sand, moisture, smears and scratches. After all it’s much cheaper to replace a UV filter than a camera lens!
Nano coating has come a long way, making for impeccable clarity in premium lens filters while providing a whole host of optical improvements. These pieces of glass will often cost a pretty penny, but the multitude of benefits is definitely something worth investing in. In general a multi-coated filter is more effective in reducing reflection than a mono-coated filter, which in turn is certainly better than a non-coated filter.
Do UV filters reduce image quality?
Keeping a UV lens filter on for protection certainly makes sense for landscape and outdoor photography, and if you choose a high quality filter, it shouldn’t have any negative impact on image quality or cause lens flare or ghosting provided you don’t use it at night or in artificial light.
Although modern digital cameras can often effectively block out most UV light straight out of the box, a UV filter can help to remove the blue cast you sometimes get when shooting in extremely bright conditions without necessarily diluting the image with the warm orange tones produced by skylight filters. Lovers of wide angle lenses ought to look into premium UV filters as high quality is vital in getting an even effect across an entire image.
However, if you shoot indoors all the time, you don’t necessarily need to protect your lens from dust and don’t want anything to come between your camera lens and your subject, perhaps there’s less of a case for keeping a UV lens filter on all the time. You should also remember to remove your UV protective filter when using special film formulated to be sensitive to UV light. Some people prefer a lens hood to a filter, check out this useful guide to lens hoods versus UV filters to find out more.
Should I buy a UV filter to protect my lens?
There are compelling reasons to use a UV filter in lieu of a plain lens protection filter including the optical benefits, lessening the amount of kit you need to take with you and generally having the peace of mind knowing that your lens is less likely to get scratched up or dusty.
Check out Urth’s range of premium UV filters to see a variety of options to choose from, although it might be worth browsing this guide to discover whether you should choose a UV filter or CPL filter for your camera lens.