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on Apr 17, 2014 in Camera Tech

Do Front Filters Matter?


“Do you use filters to protect your lenses?” This is a real common question which to be honest with you, I’m often hesitant to answer. Because 50% of the time, the conversation quickly turns into resolution charts, lists of photographers who don’t and how the image quality is degraded by using the filter. Yes, I use filters to protect all my lenses that accept filters. Yes, technically, I’m sure that there is some degradation of the image quality. And no, I’ve never had a photo buyer say, “I’d use your photo but you used a filter to protect you lens and I can see the image quality suffer because of it!

Now I spent over a half an hour moving the light around so you could see the micro scratches on this filter above and the reason why I’m writing this post. The reason for this post is to talk about why I just ordered a whole new set of filters for my lenses just two years after the current set was purchased. And that’s because there are micro scratches on the filters rendering them ineffective. Micro scratches that without the filters, would have been on the front element of my lenses! Which is easier to replace, the Nikon NC 77mm filter or the front element of the 24f1.4AFS? Which costs less? Where do the micro scratches come from? I have no doubt from cleaning them in the field when they get wet with my infamous white towel. But then, that’s why I have a filter so I can do just that. Why swap them out? Those micro scratches defrac the light so I get lens flare when otherwise, I shouldn’t. So, I use filters, will continue to use filters, I sell lots of images and sell lots of 24×30 prints all shot through those filters. To me, filters are our best friend protecting, our best friends!