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Ming Thein on filters

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Have to say I agree with this excellent article:

 

http://blog.mingthein.com/2016/03/21/to-filter-or-not-to-filter/#more-12270

"The main reason I avoid filters (except for the usage cases above) is because I often do see a difference. Aside from the obvious scenario of shooting into light sources and seeing significant ghosting, the problem is if you’re using an Otus – anything you put on the front of it, Zeiss’ own filters included, will visibly degrade contrast. It seems that the planar filters introduce reflections that simply weren’t an issue previously with the concave front elements of the 55 and 85mm Otuses. The same is generally true of other lenses with concave fronts, too: they tend to maintain higher contrast without filters; probably because there are fewer paths for internal reflection (and thus stray light, flare and reduction in contrast) to take place."

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Unless I'm missing something he doesn't offer a single photograph in the blog piece to illustrate the degradation of contrast and other effects that he writes about. As such, it's just another bloke's opinion about the merits or otherwise of using a filter and I'm not sure what it really adds to the debate.

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The first sentence of his second paragraph seems to sum things up nicely......

"I don’t actually think there’s a clear answer on when filters are detrimental."

 

I suspect that the best policy, like most things in the world, is to use them if required and otherwise, don't.

Edited by Schrödinger's cat

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There was a nice series by Lloyd Chambers and he did demonstrate with images how in some specific circumstances the image are degraded--nighttime was the best examples he posted, either by internal reflections or loss of contrast. it's unfair to discount Ming; he's methodical and is expressing his personal observation. How brave you are re: protective filters?

 

If I use my Nikkor 70-150 for which I paid $50; I don't care. My costlier Leica M's? Never, and I live with it, using the best B+W filters I can find.

 

But then, I'm not a pro who sells his work.

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.............

 

If I use my Nikkor 70-150 for which I paid $50; I don't care. My costlier Leica M's? Never, and I live with it, using the best B+W filters I can find.

 

...........

 

 

This doesn't feel quite right, though I often do the same myself.

 

Why would anyone buy an expensive lens and then accepted the risk of a degradation in image quality in order to protect the expensive lens? 

 

Isn't it the same as having a permanent plastic cover over your expensive sofa?

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This doesn't feel quite right, though I often do the same myself.

 

Why would anyone buy an expensive lens and then accepted the risk of a degradation in image quality in order to protect the expensive lens? 

 

Isn't it the same as having a permanent plastic cover over your expensive sofa?

 

Modern, multi-coated B+W or Heliopan? Nope. Perhaps I simply couldn't bear to see splotches of stuff on the front element.

I don't have the courage of a Thein, Chambers or an Overgaard to bang up these things and personally clean that front element. I shoot a Monochrom where filters are more justifiable.

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I do use filters on my lenses, usually B+W MRC ones... 

For street photography...the possible "degradation" to IQ is quite negligible I think... I use my mobile phone or a compact point-and-shoot for street photography anyway..lol

 

The main reason for using filters..for me..is so that I don't worry too much when it rains.......

I can live with a bit of dust particles on the front element....but raindrop stains and greasy fingerprints..? perhaps best to avoid them....

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But then, I'm not a pro who sells his work.

 

Well, I am, and I've never lost an image sale due to using a filter. That said, nor have I ever lost an image sale due to using a poor lens either. Depends wether we are talking 'real world' or 'esoteric nuance under specific circumstances trying hard' world

. In my case filters stop stuff like salt water getting on the front element - of course if this doesn't bother you .....

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The only time I ever resort to mounting a filter for general use, is if I take a camera anywhere near where I am likely to encounter salt spray, such as on a cruise or a speed boat trip like we did from time to time when travelling between St. John, USVI and one of the BVI.

 

Otherwise, I keep no "protective" filters on my lenses. That's what the hood is for.

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I use B+W MRC filters as they have an ultra-low reflectivity.  And they are very easy to clean. They are amazing. The only time I would consider removing them is if shooting by candlelight as any filter will show extra reflections then. I don't have any Otus lenses, so I don't share Ming's problem.

 

I shoot weddings and from time to time I get a smudge on a lens.  It could be my own fingerprint, someone's drink, food, rain, smoke, sweat, etc.  With a filter I can do a quick cleaning with a lens cloth (or any cloth) and have that lens back in action almost instantly.  Without a filter, I don't have time to do a proper cleaning, and that lens is disabled until I get home.

Edited by zlatkob

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Always a filter. You should see my filters, my lenses would lose a lot of value if their front element were like my filters.

 

Besides, I personally think that the best optical qualities are useless. Man, that photograph really has to be an ultimate masterpiece to gain rhat extra 1% from the extra clarity.

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The only time I use a filter specifically for protection is if I'm on the beach.  Wind, sand, and salt water can ruin your day.  Otherwise, I only use filters for the purpose of controlling light.

 

I clean my front elements once or twice a year with a lens pen.  I don't touch the rear elements unless there's a need.

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The argument that filters diminish image quality is balanced by the argument that damaged front elements diminish quality.  At least with a damaged filter, one can get a quick, inexpensive replacement, or remove them if needed.  Not so easy/cheap with a damaged front element.  

 

I've seen countless lenses offered on eBay and elsewhere with an explanation that there is some damage to the front element and that it won't — or, in some cases, will — affect image quality.  Sometimes the damage is a scratch or two.  Other times it is described as "cleaning marks".  Well, without filters, there are very likely to be cleaning marks.  The more you use your lenses, the more often you have to clean.

Edited by zlatkob

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The argument that filters diminish image quality is balanced by the argument that damaged front elements diminish quality.  At least with a damaged filter, one can get a quick, inexpensive replacement, or remove them if needed.  Not so easy/cheap with a damaged front element.  

 

I've seen countless lenses offered on eBay and elsewhere with an explanation that there is some damage to the front element and that it won't — or, in some cases, will — affect image quality.  Sometimes the damage is a scratch or two.  Other times it is described as "cleaning marks".  Well, without filters, there are very likely to be cleaning marks.  The more you use your lenses, the more often you have to clean.

 

Indeed! That is too funny: Sellers swearing that the marks "won't affect image quality at all".

 

Yeah.

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It's quite simple, get your camera/lens, take a shot with a filter and one without. Compare and decide for yourself. 

 

I have. I can't tell the difference except occasionally if I'm using a pola filter over a UV filter when corners lose a little detail.

Indeed! That is too funny: Sellers swearing that the marks "won't affect image quality at all". Yeah.

 

I've had a few scratched/damaged lenses and this is all too often correct in that image 'sharpness' is unaffected but issues like flare can increase but not always in every shot - easy to try, buy a used cheap filter, deliberately scratch it and shoot with and without it under varying conditions. You will find that some results will be so near identical as to be indistinguishable, other will show results of the scratch.

Edited by pgk

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I've never met a filter I didn't like, so testing these things has been somewhat an obsession.  With the exception of filters that intentionally degrade image quality such as soft effect, fog etc. the good filters when used singly do not degrade resolution and in some cases degrade contrast or introduce reflections/haze.   Polarizers should also be tested, some expensive ones aren't without issues.  Two fllters stacked degrade image quality, especially the variable ND filters where two polarizers are stacked.   Surprisingly, a cheap Tiffen Variable ND tested better than a Heliopan Variable ND.  Multicoating is again a contrast issue sometimes, I've chosen single coated over multicoated polarizers but the differences are minute at best.  

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These filter threads are pointless. Lots of words and no images, on a photograph forum! 

 

It's quite simple, get your camera/lens, take a shot with a filter and one without. Compare and decide for yourself. 

 

If you post images here, the "gear police" will quickly intervene and tell you that's what the Photo Forum is for, LOL...

Edited by Gregm61

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