Camera Lens Protector or Filter Advice.

Posted by: Tony2011 on 09 September 2018

As per title. I did not want to spoil  the Nice Photos thread, so I have opened  this one to find out how many of our beloved happy shooters make use of filters on their expensive gear. I have read endless, supposed to be impartial, reviews but most of them are kind of biased towards one brand or another. Iím thinking  of buying  a protector and also a CPL.

Any thoughts are much appreciated. Many thanks.


Posted on: 09 September 2018 by Christopher_M

Tony, I don't use them. I always use a lens hood though. Any blow to the front of the lens is going to be taken by the hood instead.

I use a soft blower brush on the front and rear elements of lenses (rear not always needed) after every shift. Hope that helps.


Posted on: 09 September 2018 by JamieWednesday

Likewise on the lens hood, especially on the big lenses.

The expensive Hoyas and more expensive b&w CPLís work well. I use Hoya myself if using at all, which is rare these days.

Posted on: 09 September 2018 by Tony2011

Thank you, Chris, I know some people only use protectors when shooting in deserts or windy situations. Of course, one can use software enhancements instead of filters but reflections for example are a pain to get rid of hence the use of CPLs filters. As you mentioned, the simple use of a hood and blowers seems to have a good following. 

Posted on: 09 September 2018 by Haim Ronen

I use clear Nikkor glass filters with my lenses. They say that filters somewhat reduce contrast and add reflections but for the shot of the century you can always unscrew and remove the filter. A friend of mine, walking the streets of Chicago with his expensive hooded zoom without a filter, ended up with an oil stain on the lens which cost hundreds of dollars to remove.

Posted on: 09 September 2018 by DBS-Al


All my lenses have Hoya Pro 1 UV filters attached permanently to protect from dust etc scratching the lens. Not too expensive either. I also use CPL and a selection of neutral density and a few graduated filters for landscape shots ( especially waterfalls ). I always carry a small cleaning cloth and blower brush too.

Regards, Alan.


Posted on: 09 September 2018 by count.d

I've always used a filter on the front and always have the lenshood attached. Nikon filter in Nikon lens, Canon filter on Canon lens, etc..

Posted on: 10 September 2018 by Tony Lockhart

I never fit a filter unless it's for effects. 


UV isn't necessary on digital. 


I had an oil spot on my 70-200mm this weekend, removed that with a Lenspen. 


I'd really hate to have, say, a small stone flicked up by a rally car hit a filter, smash the filter, and cause no end of heartache. The front lens element is a tough piece of glass, much tougher than a filter, and the odd scratch doesn't really matter. 


After ten years, my 70-200 is immaculate, and I'm no OCD possessive type.  


Hood, and sensible care is all that's needed. 

Posted on: 10 September 2018 by Tony2011

I just bought a Nikon 70-200 and stories like Tonyís make me shiver and the idea of a protector gives me even more food for thought. Thanks for sharing and for the advice.

Posted on: 10 September 2018 by Tony Lockhart

The big question might be: protect the lens from what?

Posted on: 10 September 2018 by Tony2011

All sorts of gremlins, dust, finger prints, etc... Maybe Iím just too paranoid as itís not a cheap glass. Mind you, itís not the type of lens Iíll be using on a daily basis either. 

Posted on: 10 September 2018 by Huge

Using a Hoya Pro 1 UV saved the front lens element of my 16-50 f/2.8 from damage by rain during one holiday (given the circumstances it was probably acidic rain).  I couldn't clean the filter as the coating was etched, so I binned it - a lot cheaper than a new front element of that size.

I'll use a Kasemann polariser sometimes, but NOT for wide angle shots showing a significant amount of sky; other than that all effects (and only very rarely used) are done in post processing.

Posted on: 10 September 2018 by Tony Lockhart



Crikey. My gear has been soaked many times and rain has never caused anything but a minor inconvenience.  

Posted on: 10 September 2018 by Wugged Woy

I use Hoya Pro 1 UV and B&W (can't remember no.) on all my lenses. Maybe it just makes me feel more secure.

Maybe picture quality is compromised (contrast for instance) but to be honest I can't tell the difference.

Filters don't have to be UV. As Tony states, UV is irrelevant for digital cameras.

Maybe it is best to have filters on short primes and short teles due to the front element being close to the front, or even protruding from, the lens (and they have small lens hoods). Longer primes and longer teles have the front element more recessed (and have deeper lens hoods) so are less in need of a filter.

Just my tuppence.

Posted on: 10 September 2018 by Huge
Tony Lockhart posted:



Crikey. My gear has been soaked many times and rain has never caused anything but a minor inconvenience.  

OK, it was in Iceland and there was a volcanic eruption going on at the time so the rain was an interesting chemical mix!

(It wasn't EyjafjallajŲkull though.)

Posted on: 10 September 2018 by Peakman

I think this is a debate that will run and run.  There are plenty of stories online of disasters averted by filters and just as many arguments as to why using them is a bad thing.  Ultimately, I think it's a personal decision and there is no hard-and-fast rule.

However I do agree with Wugged Woy that the issue is more critical for wide angle lenses.  Not only are the lens hoods often too shallow to offer much protection but a scratch on, say a stopped-down and close-focussed 16mm lens on full frame may well be sufficiently close to the zone of sharp focus to show up in the image.  OTOH this also means that a poor quality filter can adversely affect IQ more severely on a wide angle lens and large diameter slim high quality filters aren't cheap.  Finally, some wide-angle zooms need a filter to complete their weather sealed (eg. Canon's 16-35 f4 IS lens.)  It's always worth reading the manual.

Ultimately, though, great pictures are made by the person behind the viewfinder and being fully comfortable with one's equipment leaves more time to concentrate on creating memorable image.  If fitting a filter removes worry about damage to a valuable lens, it makes sense to me to get one.


Posted on: 10 September 2018 by Proterra

I also use a Uv filter to protect my lenses. Cheaper to replace that than a lens.

Posted on: 10 September 2018 by Paper Plane
Proterra posted:

I also use a Uv filter to protect my lenses. Cheaper to replace that than a lens.



Posted on: 10 September 2018 by tonym

Yep, always use a filter. Just to be on the safe side.

Posted on: 10 September 2018 by Suzy Wong

Hoya Pro UV on all my lenses (Canon L series)

Posted on: 10 September 2018 by Christopher_M
Suzy Wong posted:

.....all my lenses (Canon L series)

They're certainly an 'ell of a price

Posted on: 10 September 2018 by Tony Lockhart

I just don't get this "to be safe" attitude. 


Ok, if you're venturing past the gates of hell you'd be well advised to take all necessary precautions, but for 99% of my shooting there's pretty much zero risk of damage.


If you're unlucky enough to, say, smack a hoodless telephoto lens against a rock, and the impact is on the edge of the lens/filter, there's a high chance that the resulting damage will be far worse than if there were no filter. 


Another reason i dont use them unless for creative purposes is that I end up with three surfaces to clean instead of one! And filter glass always seems more difficult to properly clean than L glass. 

Posted on: 10 September 2018 by count.d

I use my lenses for my job, which is most days of the week. Iíve been a photographer for 30 years and Iím probably the most ocd person Iíve met, although Iíve never met myself. Iíve had many different experiences of what happens to lenses in bags, in use and storage.   Not putting caps back on the lens in bags, windy, dusty, salty air in use, oil resdue from race cars, etc, etc, Iíll leave it to your imagination as to the problems Iíve come across. Some stupid hood came off in my camera bag years ago on the way home from a job. It somehow managed to touch my Hasselblad 150 lens surface and scratched the sod to pieces for an hour. Surface ruined. If you donít think a tiny bit of oil residue will do much on the surface, leave it there and watch it creep down the side and to the inside of the lens glass surface.

If you want to sell the lens one day,  youíll most likely get less when a plastic cap has been taken off and put back on thousands of time directly on the lens and taken the anodising off the thread.

The only time you may possibly get a reflection from the filter surface is if the sun hits it directly and if it does, youíre either not using a hood or your hand to make a shield. 

Put a decent filter on the front and forget about it.


Posted on: 10 September 2018 by Tony Lockhart

But I suspect that most of us here don't do it for any more than a hobby 

Posted on: 10 September 2018 by count.d

True Tony. My point was, I would have thought Iíve had more testing the use with/without filters in a shorter space of time. Iíve looked after my equipment very well. After 8 years use, thereís no scratches or worn corners on my previous body for example. I donít abuse equipment and can only offer my advice from experience. 

I banged the front of a lens about 25 years ago and the filter buckled causing a right pain getting it off without damage, but apart from that, filters have only been beneficial ime.

Posted on: 10 September 2018 by Tony Lockhart

I agree with you because your choices are made through heavy use and experience. I just don't like the blanket statements such as stated earlier. Since about 1982 I've photographed (as a complete amateur then paid keen amateur) rallying, rallycross, FIA GT, drag racing, lots of aircraft old and new, I could go on, and the only damage I've done to a lens was when I dropped a cheapy Tamron zoom onto a tiled kitchen floor. A filter wouldn't have helped!


I'll be off to Orford Ness again this weekend with one eye on the weather. I might fit a cpl to the 70-200 if the sun makes an appearance lol. And if there's any salt in the air I'll be putting something on the 16-35 too. Salt is bloody awful stuff. The National Trust Land Rovers on the Ness are disposed of after 8 years, chassis etc rusted through!