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Thread: To filter, or not to filter?

  1. #1
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    Default To filter, or not to filter?

    I know this is likely to have many opinions offered, but I'm curious to know if people use lens filters when shooting birds (or anything for tha matter), and in particular the use of UV filters in general and perhaps circ-polarizing filters for pelagic stuff.

    If so, why, and if not, why not?

    Cheers
    Nigel

  2. #2
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    Not me. IMHO filters for wildlife are plain useless. Since the best conditions are early or late in the day, then not a lot can be gained and you risk jeopardizing image quality by adding yet another glass element. Even a UV or clear filter. For protecting a lens' front element, best to use a lens hood. Again, all this is my opinion and I am sure some folks like using filters. For pelagics, you could try, but you lose shutter speed (SS) and you want the fastest possible SS when on a rocking boat, trying to steady yourself for a shot.

    For other than wildlife, a polarizer can be handy (landscape) or graduated ND filters for the same genre of image making. However, shooting HDR sequences also enables you to do without graduated ND filters, thus recreating the graduated filter effect during post process with software like Photomatix or Photoshop.

  3. #3
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    No need for filters unless you are taking landscape images in my opinion Nigel.

    Read this article on my website. It explains my thoughts on filters
    http://www.wingsonwire.com/section452712_179529.html

  4. #4
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    This is very topical for me, as I have just ten minutes ago ordered a protector filter

    To the anti-filter guys who have instructed me well on the benefits of not having a filter - I heard you . But the powers that be (my parents) have demanded that I get a filter to protect the lens. With that in mind, I've gone for the best filter around (by all accounts), the Hoya HD. The light transmission is over 99.5%, and they have "toughened" glass which means that I will have a degree of protection for the lens should a projectile somehow manage to evade the lens hood.

    In general, I think filters would be useful in a couple of areas. Some lenses are not weather sealed around the front element, and adding a filter can reduce dust entry etc. Further, cleaning dust off a filter would be a rather less nerve-racking affair than cleaning dust off the lens itself. Similarly, a filter could be, I'd imagine, a useful addition on pelagics, as they add one more layer keeping water off the more expensive glass.

    From what I've read, UV filters have no effect on the image produced from digital cameras (in terms of cutting haze etc, although less light/flaring could bring about negative effects). Hence my decision to go for a protector filter, which is literally a piece of glass.

    Theoretically, it is possible to have a filter that protects the lens, and doesn't in any way degrade image quality. When I get the filter, and have time to take it out shooting, I'll be very interested to see what, if any, difference there is.

    I'd agree with Akos and Paul in that I don't see the point in using a special-effects filter for bird photography.
    Familiarity breeds contempt; don't neglect the common birds
    --\\
    ---\\_(j*)>.........Aus Life List: 534 (Northern Royal Albatross - 6/9/14)
    ----\___)................NSW List: 428 (Northern Royal Albatross - 6/9/14)
    ------\ \..............o..2014 List: 348 (Southern Giant Petrel - 6/9/14)

  5. #5
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    Have your parents read my article Ashy
    Theoretically, it is possible to have a filter that protects the lens, and doesn't in any way degrade image quality. When I get the filter, and have time to take it out shooting, I'll be very interested to see what, if any, difference there is.
    Try shooting into the sun (backlit subject etc) with a filter on Ashy and note the change in focus speeds and the anomalies that your images will show. I absolutely, unequivocally, without a doubt...hate filters on telephoto lenses. I can post a whole bunch of images from my first 6 months with my 400mm f5.6 that will make you (and your parents) change your mind
    Use a lens hood and a no-lint wipe regularly and your will be fine

  6. #6
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    I bought a Hoya HD filter back when I first started - paid $120 or so for it. Used it a handful of times and have never used it since - it's actually sitting here in front of me at the computer in the same place it was 2 years ago For me, the biggest change in IQ was the bokeh - it didn't have that nice, smooth appearance and was quite ugly. Also got a bit of lens flare and loss of contrast in some situations as well. The UV actually got stuck on my 400 f/5.6 and I had to use pliers to get it off!

    The lens hood will protect the front element to large degree from smashing if you drop the lens, although my camera gear is insured anywhere in Australia, so I am covered if I drop it (I hope it never comes to that though!)
    Aust. Life List (IOC) - 315 (Rufous Owl- 11/09/2014)
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  7. #7
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    Yes, the UV that caused me all the problems was a $70 Hoya as well. I'd be interested to hear what Chris (Ross) has to say about filters with his many years of experience. I'm sure they would have been an asset in the days of film but not so much anymore. Let us know if you're reading this Chris

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    Nothing I say will change my parents' minds, at least for the moment. Once I get the filter, if there is a drop in image quality, I don't think I'll have a huge issue convincing them. And after all, it's just money, isn't it

    When the hood is on, you can't tell if the filter is on or not. Maybe that can be my plan
    Familiarity breeds contempt; don't neglect the common birds
    --\\
    ---\\_(j*)>.........Aus Life List: 534 (Northern Royal Albatross - 6/9/14)
    ----\___)................NSW List: 428 (Northern Royal Albatross - 6/9/14)
    ------\ \..............o..2014 List: 348 (Southern Giant Petrel - 6/9/14)

  9. #9
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    The lens hood should do a good job of making sure light doesn't get to your front element and get bounced around between the filter and the lens creating the anomalies I spoke of. It was worst when I tried to shoot silhouettes or backlit shots and direct sunlight was hitting the lens. Shooting in the shade should be fine too.

  10. #10
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    Good thing it's almost perpetually cloudy in Tasmania then, since that'll be the major road test for the filter. And Sydney seems to be doing its best to emulate that weather
    I always use the hood - are there any situations that you guys find that it actually detracts from the image that could otherwise be taken?
    Familiarity breeds contempt; don't neglect the common birds
    --\\
    ---\\_(j*)>.........Aus Life List: 534 (Northern Royal Albatross - 6/9/14)
    ----\___)................NSW List: 428 (Northern Royal Albatross - 6/9/14)
    ------\ \..............o..2014 List: 348 (Southern Giant Petrel - 6/9/14)

  11. #11
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    With filters/protectors you mean? Most notably in scenes that have a lot of bright highlights. Wet mangroves/grasswart comes to mind as does rocky beach scenes.

  12. #12
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    No, sorry, should have been clearer. In general, when you go shooting (so this is without a filter), do you always use the hood? If not, why not?
    Familiarity breeds contempt; don't neglect the common birds
    --\\
    ---\\_(j*)>.........Aus Life List: 534 (Northern Royal Albatross - 6/9/14)
    ----\___)................NSW List: 428 (Northern Royal Albatross - 6/9/14)
    ------\ \..............o..2014 List: 348 (Southern Giant Petrel - 6/9/14)

  13. #13
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    If the sun is out I will always use a hood. If its overcast it becomes less necessary but still recommended.

  14. #14
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    In low light (or any light I suppose) is there any reason to think that the hood might reduce the amount of light reaching the lens/sensor? They are meant to be designed to avoid this, aren't they?

    Sorry for the thread hijack
    Familiarity breeds contempt; don't neglect the common birds
    --\\
    ---\\_(j*)>.........Aus Life List: 534 (Northern Royal Albatross - 6/9/14)
    ----\___)................NSW List: 428 (Northern Royal Albatross - 6/9/14)
    ------\ \..............o..2014 List: 348 (Southern Giant Petrel - 6/9/14)

  15. #15
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    Hoods reduce stray light from entering the lens. They do not reduce the AMOUNT of light. That's to do with the aperture. Period.

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