I’m a big advocate of protecting your gear, especially lenses with fragile elements which can easily be cracked or broken. The “protection filter or no protection filter” great debate rages on without my inflaming the debate, so allow me to simply summarize what I do and my rational for doing so.

 

I’m a big advocate of protecting your gear, especially lenses with fragile elements which can easily be cracked or broken.  The “protection filter or no protection filter” great debate rages on without my inflaming the debate, so allow me to simply summarize what I do and my rational for doing so.

When I’m in a clean studio or even indoors I don’t use a filter.  When I’m outside in the less than clean environment of South East Asia, beaches, rivers, basically anything where I can’t control the environment then I do use filters.  I use Hoya Spro1 ultra-thin UV filters in SEA, and Hoya Spro1 ultra-thin Skylight 1b filters in the great Northwest of America.  Very subtle differences, but based on my experience I use these two filters in these two greater areas.

 

When I’m in a clean studio or even indoors I don’t use a filter. When I’m outside in the less than clean environment of South East Asia, beaches, rivers, basically anything where I can’t control the environment then I do use filters. I use Hoya Spro1 ultra-thin UV filters in SEA, and Hoya Spro1 ultra-thin Skylight 1b filters in the great Northwest of America. Very subtle differences, but based on my experience I use these two filters in these two greater areas.

 

ALL THE TIME, 100% OF THE TIME, NO EXCEPTIONS I use protective hoods/shades.  These are the hoods that come with your better lenses and are optional on your more ordinary lenses.  A hood will do more for protecting your lens from bumps, drops, dirt, crud, or anything out there.. than a filter or “trying to be careful..”  A hood is cheap insurance with zero downsides.  Not using a hood makes you a chump.  Sorry, but that’s the way I feel about it.  I’ve seen way too many extremely expensive lenses broken which could have been prevented by using a simple hood.  And then there’s the less often reason for using a hood, the blocking of stray light under occasional circumstances.  I probably wouldn’t find a hood worth it for this reason alone.

 

ALL THE TIME, 100% OF THE TIME, NO EXCEPTIONS I use protective hoods/shades. These are the hoods that come with your better lenses and are optional on your more ordinary lenses. A hood will do more for protecting your lens from bumps, drops, dirt, crud, or anything out there.. than a filter or “trying to be careful..” A hood is cheap insurance with zero downsides. Not using a hood makes you a chump. Sorry, but that’s the way I feel about it. I’ve seen way too many extremely expensive lenses broken which could have been prevented by using a simple hood. And then there’s the less often reason for using a hood, the blocking of stray light under occasional circumstances. I probably wouldn’t find a hood worth it for this reason alone.

 

True Story:  My son and I were out on a shoot a few weeks ago and I ask him to mount my Canon 70-200mm F2.8L IS lens, a replacement would cost roughly baht 88,000.  He mounts the lens and then comments “you know your lens has a big crack on the front element don’t you?” Eh?  No I didn’t!  I pull the truck over and inspect the lens and find it’s not the lens, but the protective filter that was cracked.  A clean crack from one side to the other, and further the aluminum rim of the filter was crushed on one side.

How did it happen?  As near as I can figure when using a soft bag I often reverse the hood so it fits in the bag.   A bellhop or maybe even myself probably set the bag down too hard on a hard floor or carpark thereby crushing the filter rim and breaking the filter glass.  If the filter wasn’t on the lens it would have at a minimum ruined my filter threads, and probably broken my front element requiring a baht 30,000+ repair.  Perhaps replacement of the entire lens would have been necessary.  Without the cushioning effect of the soft aluminum rim to absorb shock, a lot of damage could have happened.  And yes, I’ll be very careful in the future when using soft bags.

 

True Story: My son and I were out on a shoot a few weeks ago and I ask him to mount my Canon 70-200mm F2.8L IS lens, a replacement would cost roughly baht 88,000. He mounts the lens and then comments “you know your lens has a big crack on the front element don’t you?” Eh? No I didn’t! I pull the truck over and inspect the lens and find it’s not the lens, but the protective filter that was cracked. A clean crack from one side to the other, and further the aluminum rim of the filter was crushed on one side.

 

The next day I’m down at my favorite camera shop in Bangkok buying a replacement filter.  The salesman asked me if I wanted to see one of their new Hoya Pro1 Digital Filters.  I did, but more I wanted to borrow his laptop and read about it myself at the Hoya site.

These filters are made for protection, retains the soft aluminum rim, are multicoated to resist flare and increase contrast, and better yet, add absolutely no change in color as a UV or Skylight filter would.  They appear to have taken the best features of the UV/Skylight filters, and packaged them in an improved design.

 

I bought two! Locally they were baht 1200 each which is half the stateside price which surprised me. I mounted both on two of my most used lenses and over the course of the next few weeks thoroughly tested them. I even changed back and forth between UV, Skylight, Digital Pro, no filter, to see if one was more prone to induce flare or other issues. There were none.

 

I bought two!  Locally they were baht 1200 each which is half the stateside price which surprised me.  I mounted both on two of my most used lenses and over the course of the next few weeks thoroughly tested them.  I even changed back and forth between UV, Skylight, Digital Pro, no filter, to see if one was more prone to induce flare or other issues.  There were none.

 

The Pro1 Digital Filter performed just as good if not better in all areas of importance than the UV and Skylight filters I traditionally used.

 

The Pro1 Digital Filter performed just as good if not better in all areas of importance than the UV and Skylight filters I traditionally used.

This was during the period I was using the Xrite Color Checker Passport and what I did notice was absolutely no change in color values and a slightly easier to color profile white balance and camera profile.  The differences were extremely subtle, but noticeable.

 

In the coming months I’ll be replacing all my “protective” UV and Skylight filters with new Hoya Pro1 Digital Filters. I like the idea of no color changes, zero light attenuation, and the same great protective features I’ve always enjoyed. And the price is very good. The quality is good enough where I’ve noticed no performance degradation of even my very best lenses in the most demanding circumstances. A great filter!

 

In the coming months I’ll be replacing all my “protective” UV and Skylight filters with new Hoya Pro1 Digital Filters.  I like the idea of no color changes, zero light attenuation, and the same great protective features I’ve always enjoyed.  And the price is very good.  The quality is good enough where I’ve noticed no performance degradation of even my very best lenses in the most demanding circumstances.  A great filter!