The title says it all. This week we are discussing the importance of protection filters. I keep circular polarizers on all of my lenses all of the time, unless I need to take them off for some reason. In those cases, I replace the circular polarizer with either an NC (No Correction) or UV (Ultraviolet) filter. These filters are clear and do not change the exposure (i.e. filter factor of 1X) They may provide some reduction in the blue tones of the light which can make a crisper image.
These filters are also a great way to protect your lens from damage. If you are visiting the geysers at Yellowstone, the particles in the air from the geysers can be damaging to your lens. The filter blocks these particles, saving the lens itself. The same is true if you are in a smoky area. These filters can also protect the lens from fingerprints, dust, water, etc. They act like safety glasses for your lens.
They can also protect your lens from damage from a fall or other impact (like a lens swinging from the strap and striking something - not that that has ever happened to me!). I damaged a circular polarizer once when I slipped on a wet rock at a waterfall. The filter was dinged up and would not turn, but the lens was fine.
|The Canon lens "broken" in shipment: note the lens looks fine. The filter was completely shattered.||The Nikon lens that was dropped: again, the lens looks fine. The filter looked like a cracked windshield.|
Twice in this past week I have seen a lens saved because of its protection filter (in combination with a lens cap in one case). A few weeks back, I shipped a lens to my aunt in Kentucky. She contacted me to let me know that the lens was broken in transit. I was, of course, quite upset and wondered if there were gorillas handling the packages. The shipper refused to pay out on the insurance that I placed on the lens, not surprising. In the shuffle, the lens was shipped back to me. I wanted to see how bad the damage was and if it was repairable. When I opened the package, you could see that the lens cap was jammed into the lens. This required the use of a delicate tool (i.e. a spoon) to pop the lens cap off, which my husband did quite well. The UV filter was completely shattered. There were broken pieces of glass mixed in with the bubble wrap and all over the front element of the lens. I carefully cleaned everything up. My husband, once again, stepped in to remove the ring of the filter. I have since tested the lens and everything seems to be in working order.
In another instance, a lens was dropped and brought to me to assess. I could not tell from looking at it whether the front lens element was broken or not. The UV filter was certainly ruined, but the cracks in it were reflecting into the front lens element, blocking my view of it. The filter was stuck, and the careful use of a hacksaw was required to remove it. Once again, I carefully cleaned the broken pieces of glass off of the lens and set about testing it. And, once again, the lens seems to be in working order.
This week served as a great reminder to me about the importance of protection filters. They work! Not in every case, but they do work. If you do not have any protection filters, please try to get one for each lens. I actually just placed an order for a UV filter myself for my new lens to substitute when I have to take the circular polarizer off the lens. Be sure to use a good quality filter as you are shooting through it, making it a part of your lens.
Lesson Reinforced: Always have a filter of some sort on your lens!