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Thread: I'm openning a hive of wasps- FILTERS

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    Default I'm openning a hive of wasps- FILTERS

    I know this will cause sleepless nights for some, but I think the less experienced members may find something useful from a discussion about filters.

    Personally; I don't believe you have to have a filter on your lens all the time, e.g.; for protection. In fact I only regularly use two or three types of filters. A circular polarizing filter and circular ND filters and sometimes I will use a split graduated ND filter. The only time I put a clear type filter on the lens is if I'm working at the beach with salt spray or sand blowing.

    My recommendations for filters is buy the very best you can afford and in the size of the biggest lens you think you will ever buy....in most cases this would be 77mm. The reason? Well you only have to buy the one filter to fit all lenses when used with step-up rings (imagine the savings there if you own two or three lenses)...Put the money you save towards the best quality filter you can afford.

    Get rid of the plastic cases that filters are sold in...these cases tend to "out gas" (the foggy film that you see on filters when left in their case for a period of time) and buy yourself some "stack-caps" these are cheap and protect your valuable filters and don't "out gas" PLUS if you follow my recommendation and buy all one size of filters, you screw all your filters together...as one and fit the caps. Overall a far neater and functional solution.

    One of the problems I have with the cheaper type filter and in some cases even the more expensive filters is that they are made of Resin rather than glass (a little like many eye glasses), the problem with resin is that it almost impossible to have Hard coated multi coatings applied. Have a look on a Hoya box and it will say “don’t use any chemicals to clean this filter” or words to that effect. That is because it has what is known as soft coating which by it’s very nature is easier to scratch than glass.

    Many cheaper filters aren’t colour neutral (an important consideration in ND grad filters) which means they can have a colour cast which may upset your desired outcome.

    Also many cheaper ND filters haven’t the quality control to ensure an evenness of density across the whole filter this can also cause problems.

    An “expensive” filter doesn’t have to be expensive really; let me explain, if you pay $150 for a really good high quality filter today (and you follow my recommendations about buying the bigger size and using step-rings) you have purchased one HQ filter that will give you the very best optical quality any filter can give and it should last you a life time of service on any lens you currently own or will purchase; in most case that is.

    Buy a “cheap” filter, one for every lens you own (including those that sit in your camera bag) at say $80 each and you give them a bit of a hiding from rough cleaning, you may have to replace those filters in a couple of years.

    I wonder which path would I take?

    I have a polarizer filter that I purchased new about 22 years ago, I would use it almost every week professionally and it is still almost as mint as when I purchased it. It’s like any photographic equipment you look after it and it will serve you a life time, treat it as expendable and it will break down and cost you more money.

    In 30 years of both cinematography and stills, I have never made a warranty claim on equipment because I didn’t look after it, I use it every day but look after it (after all my hard won cash paid for it)

    The best insurance for protecting your glass is being careful when handling your lens.

    Cheers

    James
    Last edited by James Doyle; 18-01-2012 at 06:16 AM. Reason: spelling errors

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    Fair enough James. One thing you hear all the time is to have a filter on for 'protection' (whatever that entails) I've seen some feisty arguments elsewhere on the Net for pro/con filters as protection: my experience in 25 yrs of photography is that I've had just the one episode where I know the filter saved the front element of a lens (a 35mm F1.4) that I bumped onto a steel barrier whilst covering a sports event in the early '90s. The edge of the filter took the full impact and cracked the glass, but lens was fine. It was a B+W one with the thick brass ring, which are one of the more expensive filters out there, though a 35mm F1.4 is a bit more....
    Nowadays I only have a few lenses which are filterable on the front. 500/800 Teles and 14-24 are not able to be filtered, so that's not an issue. My 24/2.8 and 80-200 are bare, I just make sure the hood is always on
    One thing I'd like to see, is what ACTUAL degradation is caused by having a UV filter on the front; I've seen pics of the ghosting filters can cause with stray light sources, but not seen any Boffins doing MTF charts/brick wall comparisons on what differences, if any, they have on an image. Somebody???
    Are most filters becoming redundant anyway, now digital is here? They made a difference in the B & White days, or with slide film, but can't PP cover most of that now?
    Cheers
    John

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    Rising Seep (28-01-2012)

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    I've talked about my opinions on filters a number of times on here. Do a quick search or you can read my thoughts in the article section of my website. Long story short....I'm not a fan and johns last statement rings true for me (unless you're doing landscape work)

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    BTW, most obvious flaw I've seen with cheap filters is slight lines across an image as well as significant highlight abhorations.

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    One thing PP will not replace is a polariser. It is definitely possible to have a filter that does not degrade images significantly, anyone with a type 1 Canon super tele already has one as the first element is a protective glass to protect the delicate fluorite/UD elements behind it. The question about whether you need one..... I say no in most circumstances, though if it gives you a warm fuzzy feeling about protecting your glass go ahead and use one recognising that there will be a slight-barely detectable degredation in image quality with the very best of filters and a significant degredation if you use a cheapy. I'd certainly use one if I was on a pelagic or a windy beach, but unlikely anywhere else.
    Chris Ross
    Helensburgh NSW
    www.aus-natural.com
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    James, I think you intentionally opened the hive of wasps. Personally I like the warm fuzzy feelng I get knowing a filter will absorb any knock to my lens before the front element does.

    Totally agree about the polariser but I don't own one. I have never heard of the down/upsize rings you talk about that enable a one-size filter for all lenses. Can you post a pic or some additional info on this?

    Thanks
    Richard Jackson
    http://www.owlphotographer.com/
    your comments and suggestions are welcomed

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    Hi Richard
    I've got a couple of the step rings, a 52-72, and a 72-77. Dunno how well they'd photograph...(and 12.00 midnight...)
    Mine are thin black metal, probably aluminium. One end screws into your lens filter ring (say a lens with a 72mm front filter size), and then you screw the filter(77, say) in the front of the ring bit. They're one setting only, so you have to get what goes with your lens/es and the filter sizes you have. As James had said, you are best to buy the filters in the biggest diam. you need: that's why I had 72mm filters to go onto my 52mm lenses in the old b/white days, as well as being able to use 72mm on the normal 72mm filtered lenses (so not needing to buy a set of 52mm filters) Then Nikon used 77mm as a standard....
    They're pretty cheap, going by what's on feebay...I got mine years ago from Vanbar in Melbourne.
    Polarisers are most useful to brighten up saturation, (especially in blue sky scenics) and losing reflections. Costs you about 1 1/2 to 2 stops, depending on how strongly you set it at. If you get a used one, make sure it's a circular type version, not a linear, else you'll have problems with metering and AF function. Also, if you use ultrawides, try to get a thinner version, else you may get vignetting.

    Cheers John

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    Quote Originally Posted by James Doyle View Post
    Personally; I don't believe you have to have a filter on your lens all the time, e.g.; for protection. In fact I only regularly use two or three types of filters. A circular polarizing filter and circular ND filters and sometimes I will use a split graduated ND filter. The only time I put a clear type filter on the lens is if I'm working at the beach with salt spray or sand blowing.


    Cheers

    James
    I spend about 90% of my time photographing shorebirds/gulls/terns etc, so my equipment would be exposed to the salt spray a lot more than most peoples. Would this be damaging to my equipment? And if so, what would you suggest to protect my gear?

    Also I hope you don't mind me asking, but how and with what do you use to clean your lenses?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Young View Post
    I spend about 90% of my time photographing shorebirds/gulls/terns etc, so my equipment would be exposed to the salt spray a lot more than most peoples. Would this be damaging to my equipment? And if so, what would you suggest to protect my gear?

    Also I hope you don't mind me asking, but how and with what do you use to clean your lenses?
    Lens cleaning is another can of worms and there are many different methods.
    Remember, every time you touch the surface of the lens you do some damage to it, so the golden rule is to clean the lens only when you need to and to do it gently. Firstly you need to remove dust as dust is an abrasive and will scratch the coating on the glass if you rub it across the surface when you wipe it.

    This is how I do it: To remove dust use an old fashioned blower brush. Next use something like lens tissue moistened (not soaking wet and not dry either) with a commercial lens cleaner. Solvents such as acetone remove crud and oil very well from coated glass but often dissove the plastic/paint so I would advise against such products unless you know what you are doing. Start from the centre of the lens and wipe very lightly in a circular motion working your way out to the edge (It is the solvent on the tissue doing the work not the pressure from you finger). Do it gently, and you will probably have to repeat this a couple of times, each time using a new piece of lens tissue. View the lens surface in bright light and when there are no smears or tissue fibres the lens is clean.
    Richard Jackson
    http://www.owlphotographer.com/
    your comments and suggestions are welcomed

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    Mark,

    I would be wiping your lenses/camera down each time you bring it in, using a slightly damp microfibre cloth, clean your front element/filter every time as well, blower first then a wet clean if you are removing potential salt spray. I'd use a general cleaning microfibre cloth as they are a lot bigger than the lens cleaning ones, just keep it dedicated to cleaning your camera gear. and rinse it out well each use.There are various lens protection products around the place, can't recall the name of them now, but I've seen lens cover thingies designed for shooting in rain that could help.
    Chris Ross
    Helensburgh NSW
    www.aus-natural.com
    Instagram: @ausnaturalimages

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    Personally, I prefer having filters on for protection, although I've been in a situation where it is has had to make a difference. I recently got a Zeiss 21mm lens and bought a Zeiss filter for it. Zeiss claims that the filters are multi-coated to the same extent as the actual lens elements are, so I can't see why it would degrade IQ at all. There have been a few times I have been surprised by the lens element (still a 'new' lens so not used to it) but haven't needed the filter as yet. Buying a cheap filter is a waste of money though, I am sure it degrades IQ a fair bit.
    Tobias Hayashi
    Canberra, Australia
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    Mark,

    I'm on the beach with my camera perhaps five days a week. I use a combination of Richard's & Chris's lens cleaning techniques after every beach visit.
    I also moisten a cloth with a tiny amount of dishwashing liquid in tepid water and wipe over the camera body & lens body then wipe off again with fresh tepid water.

    Even on days with a light wind you can bet that salt spray is landing on your camera & lens. I live 300 metres from the beach and consider that I get salt spray in my backyard.

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Jackson View Post
    Lens cleaning is another can of worms and there are many different methods.
    Remember, every time you touch the surface of the lens you do some damage to it, so the golden rule is to clean the lens only when you need to and to do it gently. Firstly you need to remove dust as dust is an abrasive and will scratch the coating on the glass if you rub it across the surface when you wipe it.

    This is how I do it: To remove dust use an old fashioned blower brush. Next use something like lens tissue moistened (not soaking wet and not dry either) with a commercial lens cleaner. Solvents such as acetone remove crud and oil very well from coated glass but often dissove the plastic/paint so I would advise against such products unless you know what you are doing. Start from the centre of the lens and wipe very lightly in a circular motion working your way out to the edge (It is the solvent on the tissue doing the work not the pressure from you finger). Do it gently, and you will probably have to repeat this a couple of times, each time using a new piece of lens tissue. View the lens surface in bright light and when there are no smears or tissue fibres the lens is clean.
    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisRoss View Post
    Mark,

    I would be wiping your lenses/camera down each time you bring it in, using a slightly damp microfibre cloth, clean your front element/filter every time as well, blower first then a wet clean if you are removing potential salt spray. I'd use a general cleaning microfibre cloth as they are a lot bigger than the lens cleaning ones, just keep it dedicated to cleaning your camera gear. and rinse it out well each use.There are various lens protection products around the place, can't recall the name of them now, but I've seen lens cover thingies designed for shooting in rain that could help.
    Cheers,
    Geoff


    reposts welcome

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    Thanks Richard, Chris, Tobias and Geoff for the great feedback.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Jackson View Post
    James, I think you intentionally opened the hive of wasps. Personally I like the warm fuzzy feelng I get knowing a filter will absorb any knock to my lens before the front element does.

    Totally agree about the polariser but I don't own one. I have never heard of the down/upsize rings you talk about that enable a one-size filter for all lenses. Can you post a pic or some additional info on this? Thanks

    Hi Richard, sorry for the late reply...I've been really busy of late and haven't had a chance to get back on F&P recently.

    Well, step-up rings are just like a filter without and glass the male thread can be one size (say 72mm) and the female thread would be 77mm. So if your lens filter thread was say 62mm you would by a 62-77mm step-up ring, you screw the ring onto your lens like a filter but because the female thread is 77mm you can screw a 77mm filter onto the same lens. Of course you would have different rings for each different lens filter size. They cost about $10 each, weight nothing and you only need the one filter to fit all the lenses (which take filters if you have the biggest filter, except of course big telephoto lenses which use rear filtering).
    Click image for larger version. 

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    One other thing that needs to be remembered if you use this system is that because you are using a filter larger than the lens was designed for, you can stack multiple filters if need be, such as a polariser and ND filter with less chance of vignetting but the down side is you can't use your standard lens hood...you would have to buy a 77mm screw in lenshood.

    To give you an idea of the cost saving, I have the very best quality filters, Polarising, 3 X ND filters, 2X Diopters and all up replacement price would about $800 today and I have 5 lenses that take filters....If I purchased a high quality filter for each seperate lens I would be paying somewhere around the $1400 mark.

    Anyway, I'm happy with my choices and they have served me well for about twenty years but I realise not everyone thinks the same nor have the same opinion and in the end it's up to the individual to decide what works for them...I'm just describing what works for me and if someone gets something from it then the post has achieved its purpose. Thanks for your interest.
    Last edited by James Doyle; 24-01-2012 at 07:52 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tobias Hayashi View Post
    Personally, I prefer having filters on for protection, although I've been in a situation where it is has had to make a difference. I recently got a Zeiss 21mm lens and bought a Zeiss filter for it. Zeiss claims that the filters are multi-coated to the same extent as the actual lens elements are, so I can't see why it would degrade IQ at all. There have been a few times I have been surprised by the lens element (still a 'new' lens so not used to it) but haven't needed the filter as yet. Buying a cheap filter is a waste of money though, I am sure it degrades IQ a fair bit.
    Hi Tobias, that was one of my points...if you buy a high quality filter, and I recommend if available buy one from the major lens manufacturer, e.g. Canon,Nikon, Zeiss etc...They are made with the same technique that they make the lens elements for the lens, use the same multi coating as the lens elememt etc. It also has to be remembered that different manufacturers have different MC on their lenses, canon have one type, nikon have a different coating etc. Matching those coatings make sense to me. Don't get me wrong....I use filters all the time but I only use the best quality and usually matched filters when I actually need to use a filter for a given purpose.
    Last edited by James Doyle; 24-01-2012 at 07:57 AM.

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