Last Updated on August 20, 2020 by Jose Barrios

Home » Accessories » Are UV lens filters necessary?

The short answer is yes if you do a lot of fieldwork, it will protect your lens from dirt and scratches by being the first in line to get hit by outside elements. The UV part is totally unnecessary with most modern lenses since they already have this UV coating applied to them.

Why I use them

UV filters for the most part are unnecessary, and can actually degrade your image quality and add unwanted lens flare.

If I was photographing landscapes, studio portraits, or doing product photography I would not use one, but for my everyday run and gun real estate photography, they are a must.

Unlike most photographers, I use my camera every day. Weather conditions and house vary a lot, so my Nikon 18-35mm lens gets water, dirt, and other unsavory things on it all the time, and I do not always have the optimal equipment to clean it correctly on hand. I will end up using my breath and my shirt to get it “clean” or an old microfiber cloth that has seen better days.

But the truth is I do don’t care about damaging my UV filter, this is precisely why I bought it, to take the brunt of my abuse.

Scratched the filter? No problem just get another one. Extremely dirty? Just unscrew it and wash in the sink with dishwasher soap and dry with a paper towel. When I’m out taking photos I’m there with a purpose, and that is to photograph as fast as possible and move on to the next gig, no time for niceties.

What are the drawbacks of using a UV filter?

A lot of them, just to name a few:

  • They can add a vignette
  • They can degrade image quality
  • They can cause ugly flares
  • And many more…

If you just google UV filters there is more negative stuff out there than good.

Why use UV filters at all?

The most compelling reason against them is why would you put a $20 piece of cheap glass in front of your $1,000 camera lens? But for me the answer is simple, I can easily replace a cheap UV filter, a $1,000 + lens on the hand, not so much, and in my line of work, photographing real estate, the drawbacks just don’t matter that much to me or the product I’m delivering to my clients.

 

But the UV filter is ruining my shot!

On those rare occasions where you are getting crazy flares or some other strange effect, just unscrew it, take the picture, and put it back on. Problem solved.

Think of your lens filter as it was a lens cover.

But what filter to buy?

Now don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of very good and very expensive UV filters out there. They have very specific uses and can cost in the hundreds of dollars each, but for us mere mortals these top of the line UV filters are quite unnecessary.

I’m also not advocating you buy the cheapest thing out there; those can cause multiple issues.

These are my top picks:

Tiffen UV Filters

Tiffen wide angle UV

I just love these UV filters, I practically have them on all my lenses, and most sizes run for less than $20.

  • For the price, you just cannot beat them.
  • Provides basic reduction of ultraviolet light
  • Helps eliminate bluish cast in your photos
  • Protects your lens from dust, dirt, and scratches
  • They are made in the USA

Gobe UV Filters

Gobe UV filter

Gobe makes high-quality lens filters at a fair price, they have low profiles allowing them to avoid vignette in your photos.

  • PROFESSIONAL SHARPNESS | Premium German SCHOTT B270 optical glass creating the sharpest images while also reducing haze and protecting your lens.
  • GOBE 3PEAK | Made for professional lenses & telephoto lenses. 16-layer nano-coating for neutral color balance, reducing lens flare, removing ghosting, and protecting against scratches, dirt, and grime. Backed by our lifetime warranty.
  • NO VIGNETTING | Consciously designed durable magnalium rims are double-threaded for stacking and slim profile to avoid vignetting.
  • PROTECT YOUR LENS | UV filters protect your lenses without affecting exposure settings. Keep a UV on your lenses to protect them against the perils of common use – dirt, water, and scratches.
  • PLANT 5 TREES | Buying with Gobe helps fund local communities to plant 5 trees in areas affected by deforestation – help us reforest the world, one product at a time.

They will plant five trees in areas affected by deforestation, so you not only get a great filter, but you are also helping save the planet. That’s a win-win!

Promaster HGX UV Filters

Promaster Digital UV Filter

Promaster manufactures high-quality UV filters. Their HGX line of UV filters is impressive and great for high-end photography. Their Repellemax II coating is great for keeping your filter clean with it’s resistance to dust and fingerprints.

Promaster HGX filters offer the following:

  • This UV Filter blocks ultraviolet light and passes visible light – so your camera sees what you see
  • Crafted for fine lenses, HGX Prime filters are individually ground, polished, and coated. They repel dirt and transmit brilliant light to achieve the clearest possible image
  • Protective: Repellemax II Anti-static barrier resists dust, dirt, oil, water, and fingerprints
  • Best Image: Cutting-edge multi-coatings and black-rimmed glass pass the clearest light to your sensor
  • Strong and Durable: Ultra hardened glass with scratch-resistant coating
Jose Barrios

Jose Barrios

Photographer

“What can I say? I love taking photos of houses.”

Based in Orlando Florida, Jose is a real estate photographer specializing in vacation homes, working for realtors and property managers to make their properties look great.