Photo mythbusting: Do UV filters truly reduce image quality, and should you use them?


posted Saturday, June 11, 2016 at 10:59 AM EST


In a new video photographer Matthew Saville of SLR Lounge asks, "Can UV filters actually ruin your images?" Ultraviolet or UV filters -- sometimes referred to as clear or skylight filters -- are typically used to protect the front element of your lens. It has been an oft-held belief that they reduce overall image quality. After all, you're putting something in front of your lens so it has to have an impact, right? That's what Matthew wanted to find out.

Before we get to the video below, it's important to consider -- as with any product -- that not all UV filters are the same. While quality does not always coincide with cost, it is important to consider how good a $10 UV filter will really be. It probably doesn't make sense to put something cheap in front of an expensive piece of glass. Of course there may well be exceptions to that general rule, but it seems to be the case that with filters you generally get what you pay for. If you're interested in some UV filter tests and comparisons, see this massive test by Lens Tip, a general overview by The Digital Picture and this interesting comparison between a B+W UV filter and a "cheap" UV filter.

With that caveat on UV filter quality out of the way, check out Saville's video. The results may surprise you.

To see the still frames of the images seen in the video above, check out the accompanying SLR Lounge article. This is the start of a new "Photography Myths and Stereotypes" series for SLR Lounge. I'm looking forward to seeing what myth or stereotype they tackle next.

What about the idea that UV filters protect your lens? It's readily apparent that UV filters are suitable for protecting your lens against weather elements. It's not clear that it can protect against bangs and bumps. Check out the video below from Steve Perry to see his rigorous testing of a variety of UV filters. 

I'd like to see Steve similarly test out Sigma's newest UV filter, which Sigma states is ten times stronger than conventional protective filters.

Readers, what's your stance on UV filters, do you use them or not? Let us know in the comments below.

(Seen via SLR Lounge)