Last Updated on November 28, 2022 by seanmichaelpritchard
Are you questioning if buying a UV protection lens filter for your camera lens is necessary?
This guide explains why it is important for photographers to use a UV protection lens filter to protect your camera lens.
It usually works too, and most photographers frequently purchase a UV lens filter as their first filter for their new camera lens.
However, there are some photographers that believe adding a UV protection lens filter to your lens is not worth the sacrifices you make.
If you’re not sure why you need a UV protection filter for your lens, this guide helps you to discover everything you need to know, the pros and cons of using one, and all you need to understand if a UV protection lens filter is an important purchase that you should make.
At a glance, here is what this guide will cover: (Click a link to jump to the section you need)
- What is a UV protection lens filter?
- Why should a photographer use a UV protection lens filter?
- Is a UV protection lens filter necessary for a film camera?
- Is a UV protection lens filter necessary for a digital camera?
- Do you need a UV protection filter for your lens?
- Can a UV protection lens filter reduce your image quality?
- How much does a UV protection filter for your lens cost?
- What UV protection lens filter brands are recommended?
Let’s get started.
What is a UV protection lens filter?
A UV protection lens filter is a special piece of camera kit that adheres to the front of a lens.
By adding this type of filter to your lens the amount of ultraviolet light that enters your camera is decreased.
For information on other types of filters head here Types of Camera Lens Filters Explained: An Essential Guide
Why should a photographer use a UV protection lens filter?
There are three key advantages to adding a UV protection lens filter to your camera gear.
1. Reduces the amount of UV light that reaches your camera’s lens
A portion of the light spectrum slightly below what humans can perceive is occupied by UV or ultraviolet light. Ideally, when capturing photos with a camera the UV light should be blocked to prevent image quality loss.
Depending on the brand of filter you buy, between 0.5% and 5% less UV light can enter a camera when using a UV protection lens filter.
2. Assists as a lens protector by preventing scratches on your lens
A lens filter with UV qualities may also shield your camera from any unintentional knocks or impacts. This can frequently mean the difference of thousands, between having to repair a broken lens or the much cheaper alternative of a broken UV camera lens filter!
This is especially important to consider if you’re a travel or adventure photographer.
Sand, grit, and other airborne particles are also prevented from coming close to your lens by the attachment of a UV lens protector.
Therefore, there is less chance of dust scratches if rain or water droplets land on your UV lens protector rather than your lens itself.
Look for a lens filter that has a coating that is multi-resistant as this will protect your lens from various types of hazards that could scratch your lens.
3. Shields the lens from potential hazards
Most photographers use UV filters to shield their camera gear, especially if they have an expensive lens! UV lens filters effectively serve as a protective coating that covers your lens at all times by preventing dust and debris from entering into the lens.
A UV lens filter serves as a weatherproofing filter for expensive camera lenses by protecting the front element from dirt and anything else that could cause irreversible damage. Therefore, if you photograph outside, this filter is an essential addition to your camera kit.
A UV filter also acts as a lens protector in windy circumstances. It serves as a buffer, preventing wind-borne debris like sand, grit, or sea spray from getting close to your lens. Undoubtedly, a UV lens filter is necessary if you need to shoot pictures in any sort of weather environment.
It’s important to note that UV filters won’t shield your lens from internal harm. There are many more glass components inside a lens than just the front piece of glass. Dropping your lens when it has a UV protection lens filter applied could still cause internal damage.
Is a UV protection lens filter necessary for a film camera?
Before the introduction of digital cameras, everyone used classic film cameras.
Many photographers observed significant colour fading their images, and in particular the presence of blue tones.
It was determined that ultraviolet light was the source of this. Film was very susceptible to ultraviolet rays, which is why the UV protection lens filter was invented.
If you’re a lover of classic film photography or have inherited an old film camera from your relative.
It’s crucial to use a UV protection lens filter to minimise the quantity of UV light entering the camera if you don’t want photo fading to occur in your final images.
Is a UV protection lens filter necessary for a digital camera?
UV light is often automatically blocked by an integrated sensor in most digital cameras. However, some digital photographers acknowledge that a UV filter can still sharpen and decrease haze in a picture.
On cloudy days or while photographing in the presence of shadows, it might also be beneficial to increase contrast.
Imagine you’ve just picked up a new Canon RF lens, adding a UV protection filter to your digital camera does give you that added benefit and peace of mind of some protection to the front glass on your camera lens.
However, a CPL lens filter can be more advantageous for your photography if you need lens protection with the extra advantages of polarisation.
Do you need a UV protection filter for your lens?
A UV filter is probably not going to be beneficial to you if you have a current digital camera and spend your entire day in a studio capturing fashion pictures or product photography.
However, if you are a street photographer or a landscape specialist and find yourself outdoors in various weather elements, you’ll want to think about using a lens protector such as a UV protection lens filter.
The UV filter’s ability to shield lenses could be useful if you shoot in busy places too.
If you are an avid film photographer, a UV protection filter for your lens is an essential purchase to go with a 35mm film camera, as film is more susceptible to being damaged if you choose not to use one.
Can a UV protection lens filter reduce your image quality?
Some individuals hold the opinion that employing lens filters has a detrimental impact on the quality of the images, although this truly relies on the lens filter’s quality.
A UV protection filter for your lens will not severely hinder image quality as long as the optical glass of your UV filter is on par with or better than that of your lens. A high-quality UV filter will improve clarity and sharpness while safeguarding your lens.
It shouldn’t alter image quality, exposure settings, coloration, or contrast. You can therefore leave a UV filter permanently on your lens for peace of mind that you are doing everything you can to protect your lens.
That being said, there are a couple of things that could affect your image quality if you use a poor quality UV protection filter for your lens.
Be cautious of any lens flares or inadvertent light distortions in your photos. When shooting directly at a light source, the additional glass element of your UV protection lens filter may produce undesirable flares.
(Not to be confused with lens distortion which can read about here Lens Distortion: An Essential Photography Guide)
2. Wide-angle focal length vignetting
When editing your images, vignetting is what causes unwanted black corners to appear in the final image. When you add any filter to the front of the lens, vignetting can occur. Wider angle lenses can capture the borders of the filters in front of them.
So, if you like to take photos on a lens focal length between 10-24mm, using a UV protection lens filter may cause the corners of the image to darken.
In addition to the above, if you opt to add numerous lens filters to your lens, the image quality could suffer as light passes through more layers of glass.
However, if you’re shooting in difficult lighting and want the combined effects of two filters, the advantages of the filters may exceed the reduction in image quality.
How much does a UV protection filter for your lens cost?
As with most pieces of camera equipment, a UV lens filter’s price can vary dramatically. Ultimately, the cheaper the lens filter the more likely it is made of poorer quality materials.
Usually if you spend a little more, you will get a much better quality of protection. A small price to pay to protect your expensive lens.
Experts advise that you match the UV filter’s quality to that of your lens when determining how much money to spend on one.
Below is a list of recommended UV protection filter brands with updated prices for you to consider.
What UV protection lens filter brands are recommended?
Avoid wasting your money by purchasing a low-quality UV filter. Instead, spend a little more and enjoy the rewards.
A high-quality UV lens filter would have a protective multi-resistant covering. This is especially useful if you frequently use your camera outside.
There are several UV lens filter protection classes available, from those that block out only a little amount of UV radiation to those that absorb the bulk of UV light.
Here are three brands that produce higher quality options.
These B+W protection filters are so clear and transparent. Each glass surface has numerous anti-reflection coating layers to minimise internal ghosting and reflections while allowing over 99.8% light transmission.
When compared to uncoated filters, B+W Multi-Resistant Coating (MRC) provides the filter substrate with improved protection and enables it to maintain cleaner for longer. They also act as a great lens protector.
This UV filter has a sturdy aluminium frame and a 30-layer nano-coating that shields it against harm. For crisper images and richer colours, these layers also offer a better maximum light transmission and a more stable transmission curve.
With a thread diameter range of 37mm to 95mm, the Urth UV Filter Plus can be used with a variety of lenses.
The low-profile design of the filter prevents your camera from becoming bulkier. It is a fantastic option for photographers who wish to safeguard their lenses and enhance their work.
Did you know that Urth manufactures lens filters that help to reforest the planet? Find out more here.
This UV filter has 28 multilayer layers and is composed of sturdy optical glass. Water-repellent and scratch-resistant coatings for long-lasting use.
Additionally, for clear, crisp pictures, the multilayer coating guarantees optimum light transmission.
The extremely compact shape reduces vignetting and makes it simple to stack with additional filters.
In summary, the subject or environment you are photographing will determine whether you should use a UV protection filter for your lens.
The use of a lens protector on your camera lens is sometimes necessary. Especially if the lens you’re using is pricey. It would be silly not to use a UV filter to prevent scratches on it!
Ideally, you should also shield your lens from the elements when taking photographs in locations such as beaches, deserts, or snow-covered mountains.
If you do decide you need one, don’t let a poor filter compromise the quality of your images when choosing a UV lens protector.
Learn more about lenses in this complete guide to camera lenses.
DISCLOSURE: I may earn a small commission from some of the links above. For the benefit of the doubt, please assume all links might be affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
Get the latest news in your inbox
By signing up to my mailing list you will be the first to hear about brand new blogs, new prints and have access to subscriber only promotions!