Are UV lens filters worth it?
So picture this situation, you go shopping for a new lens, you're just about to pay for your new purchase and then the assistant asks that question that seems there just to confuse people "would you like a UV filter with that?".
Lets talk a little about what A UV filter used to do. Back in the day UV filters were used to block UV rays from the film helping a image to have more contrast, that said now days digital sensors are no where near as sensitive to UV as film is also with the advancement of technology most lenses are have coatings that minimise the effect as well, which makes them somewhat redundant in this sense on modern digital cameras
So with that said, please note my thoughts below are based on a digital shooter and do not apply to film shooters.
Let’s look into the benefit of using a UV filter before looking into reasons not to. Simply put a UV filter will offer a physical level of protection to help prevent your front element from any 'accidents' that may crop up and to be fair they do a good job at it too, browse any photography forum and it won’t be long until you come across some unfortunate soul who has taken a picture of their 70-200 with a front element resembling a spider web saying "if only I'd had my UV filter on" but in reality I have found these incidents are few and far between if you take care of you kit (this has never happened to me or anyone I know of in all the time I have been shooting to date), using a lens hood as an alternative helps minimize that risk even more but we can go into that in a different post.
So why wouldn't you want to use one then?.... A degradation in image quality!. After investing in quality glass why would you want to tarnish it by sticking a relatively cheap piece of glass on front of it? Ultimately the less that's between your subject and your sensor the better. Having any filter on you lens means less light, potential ghosting and if a cheap filter allot worse glass. I tested a number of UV filters with a various lenses and can vouch for the fact my image quality was worse overall by the addition of the filter. Having said all that not all filters are bad, there are some things that you can't or at least would have great difficulty doing without a filter but ill go into that in a different post as well.
So to my closing thoughts on the subject are. It depends on what you’re doing and how you shoot. If you were just getting into photography and got a digital camera with a couple of kit lenses then would recommend you to throw on a filter and the extra protection vs the slight loss of image quality would be worth the sacrifice. But it you had just invested a small fortune into a quality fast prime or a 'L' then I am sure you would want to get best out of you glass investment, with that said I would only recommend going 'commando' on the preemies your using a lens hood and/or have insurance to protect your glass investment.
I would like to hear you thoughts and comments on this.
How do you shoot? With or without protection :)