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Photography

Quick Tip: The Benefits of a Ultraviolet Filter

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Today we continue our series looking at different photographic filters. Having already covered Polarizing and ND filters, today we are looking at another one of the most important filters, the UV filter. UV filters reduce haziness created by ultraviolet lights, and can also act as a great protector for your expensive lens!


What Does a Ultraviolet Filter Do?

Put simply, UV filters reduce haziness created by ultraviolet lights.

Lets have a quick physics lesson. Ultraviolet light is electromagnetic radiation with a wavelength shorter than that of visible light, but longer than x-rays, in the range 10 nm to 400 nm. If you own a film camera then you might know the reason you use a UV filter.

It all down to colour film having 3 sensitive layers, one to red, one to blue and one to green (RBG). The blue layer responses to UV light as well as blue light, if you take an image which lots of UV light the blue layer becomes overexposed and your image takes a blue colour.

You can buy different strength UV filters, stronger UV filters will stop more blue light and will leave the image with a slight yellow tone.

ultraviolet uv filter


So Why Should I Get One for My Digital Camera?

So a UV filter is really useful to have on a film camera but why is it so important to have it on a digital camera? Because you are able to keep your UV filter on almost 99% of time you ever use your camera, the UV filter acts as perfect protection for the front of your lens.

Like most things in life there are advantages and disadvantages of using a UV filter to protect your lens.

Advantages:

  • Protects the glass on your lens from scratching
  • If sand/mud is blowing the filter will stop it from sticking to the glass
  • The filter can be removed and cleaned quickly and easily
  • The filter often helps weatherproof the lens (on the Canon L series for example)

Disadvantages:

  • Glare from the sun can spoil your images
  • Adding filters can cause a vignette to appear on your photos.
  • It might stop you from being able to use a lens hood

ultraviolet uv filter


What Else Can You Get Hold Of?

You could just use a clear filter. They just screw on and do nothing apart from protect your lens. They also bring the same advantages and disadvantages of UV filters (apart from not blocking UV light, obviously).

I personally find it harder to get hold of good quality clear filters than UV filters, plus they also tend to cost more.

ultraviolet uv filter


Brands I Would Recommend:

A UV filter is one of the rare screw-in filters I own. I normally only buy square filters, but because I wanted my UV on the lens almost all of the time, a square filter would not do the same job.

Please note the price of screw-in filter does depend on the thread size of the filter. The filter you want might be cheaper (or more expensive) than you think!

Cokin:

Tiffen:

Hoya:

B+W:

I would spend as much as you can on a UV filter, as quality does matter. If you place a $5 filter on a $1000+ lens the decrease in picture quality will be noticeable. Protect your lens without ruining quality by purchasing the best glass you can.

ultraviolet uv filter


I Hope That Helps!

If you have any questions about any other types of filter please post them below and I will try to offer some assistance. We'll be covering a few more in future Quick Tips as well, so stay tuned!

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