Have you ever wondered why UV filters are screwed onto the end of a camera lens? And why lenses are sold as a kit with a UV filter. Well, the answer may surprise you…
In this article we’re going to answer the question, do I need a UV filter for my camera lens. We'll also give you options so that moving forward you’ll know that both your lens and camera sensor are protected.
By the end of this article you’ll know what you need and can rest assured that your camera and lens are properly preserved.
If you don't know your lens diameter (or how to measure for it), be sure to visit our article that explains it all!
Let’s dive right in!
So, do I really need a UV filter for my camera lens
The direct answer to that is, no. Here’s why.
Many moons ago when film was common practice for taking photographs, the film they used was sensitive to UV light. If you didn’t use a UV filter on cameras with UV sensitive film, you would get a blue haze over your entire photograph. This is obviously not the desired effect.
UV filters do just that, block out the UV spectrum of light hitting your sensor. You can almost think of it as “sunscreen” for your sensor.
Now-adays, digital sensors are the primary medium for capturing images. Digital sensors aren’t sensitive to UV light.
The same goes for modern films, most of them aren’t sensitive to UV light either.
UV filters don’t modify either
You see, the main reason for using a filter is to modify your image. Neutral density, polarizers, and infrared filters all modify the light that passes through it. This results in a modified image and the style or look that you’re trying to achieve.
UV filters don’t really modify anything. Honestly, there isn’t much of a difference between an image taken with or without a UV filter.
So what are UV filters good for then?
Protecting and preserving: your number one concern
There are many people who use a UV filter every time they shoot. The main reason for that is protection.
Higher quality UV filters are made of a tempered glass material that protect the outermost element of your lens. Do not mistake it for drop protection. It will not save your lens from a fall from any significant height.
What it will do is protect your lens from dust and scratches. A perfect location to screw one on is the beach. Sand is a horrible thing and a UV filter is perfect for protecting your lens from those fine grains of sand.
If you do find yourself using one and it falls and hits a hard surface (asphalt, concrete, wood) you’ll most likely shatter the filter. The threads will most likely be stuck to your lens. We recommend purchasing a filter remover just in case something like this happens. Believe me, it’s nearly impossible to get it off without it.
Negative(s) to using a UV filter (or any filter consistently)
Having a filter always on your lens poses one potentially major problem. That’s the fact there’s another layer of glass (or plastic if you purchase cheap filters) that light has to pass through.
This is why we recommend high end filters. You wouldn’t want a low end/inexpensive lens altering your image in a negative way. A UV filter will add additional lens flare as well.
Other minor negatives include another accessory you need to keep clean, stored in your bag, and be mindful of dust and fingerprints.
Other filters we recommend taking a look at
Aside from UV there are many other filters on the market that are worth looking into. These filters include:
Each of these filters can give you very different looks and creative ability when out in the field. I would recommend looking into each of them if you haven’t already. They could benefit you much more than a UV filter could.
So, do you need a UV filter for your camera lens?
Well, with the 5+ years I've been taking photos with digital (and film) cameras, I would have to say no.
There isn’t much use for them aside from protection. You won’t notice much of a difference (if any at all), while using one. If you feel you need the added dust and scratch protection, I would recommend you invest that money into a high quality clear filter (which will save you money),
Use the money you saved to invest in a different filter (like an ND), or other camera gear/courses.
You’ve been informed!
I hope I was able to answer your question clearly and effectively. Please leave feedback in the comments letting me know I did just that!
It brings me great joy to know I am able to help awesome individuals like yourself in the photo/video world.
You should now know if you need a UV filter as well as alternatives that could help you moving forward!
Thank you all for reading! As always, keep shooting and creating!