Why Use a UV Filter on a DSLR?

Piper O'Shanassy24 Mar 2022

Most photographers, whether hobbyists or professionals, utilize a UV filter to safeguard their camera gear, particularly if they have a pricey lens. UV lens filters keep dust and grime from getting in touch with the lens, effectively functioning as a protective layer that protects your lens at all times.

A UV filter is a defensive filter that weatherproofs the lens by covering the front component from dirt and other pollutants. So, if you photograph outside, this filter will come in handy. The filter can keep dust, sand, and other airborne particles away from your lens. If water droplets or raindrops get on your filter, it's quicker to wipe off, and you'll be less likely to have scratches. This is especially true if you have a multi-resistant covering on your lens filter.

In windy circumstances, a UV lens filter can also provide protection. It functions as a barrier, preventing wind-borne things like sea spray, sand, or grit from getting too close to your lens. A UV lens filter is unquestionably necessary if you need to shoot images in any sort of weather. A UV lens filter could also help shield your camera from any unfortunate knocks or falls and can make a huge difference between needing repairs for a damaged lens worth thousands of dollars or a shattered filter for around $100. This is particularly important when you're out and about with your camera, hiking, scrambling over rocks, or capturing shots by the water.

What Is the Use of a UV Filter In a DSLR?

A UV filter prevents UV rays from entering the lens. Consider it a sunblock for your camera. Some old photographic films were particularly sensitive to UV radiation, thus if you didn't use a UV filter, your images would have a blue haze. This was especially prevalent if you were working in an area with a lot of UV radiation, such as on a bright day or at a high altitude.

The problem is that current films and digital sensors are just not sensitive to UV radiation. It doesn't have the same impact on them as it does on earlier films. This implies that you don't need a UV filter to prevent UV light from entering your camera to capture nice photographs. However, this hasn't kept UV filters from finding secondary usage as a lens protector. Some camera stores will not allow you to leave with a new lens unless you also purchase a UV filter to safeguard it.

The main notion is that if you accidentally dropped your $1,000 lens, you shatter your $35 UV filter rather than the lens's front component. It's far easier to get a new filter than to get your lens fixed. Regrettably, while the concept is fine in principle, it does not stand up in practice.

The glass in UV filters is much weaker than that of the glass used in the front component of lenses, therefore the filters will crack from falls that don't even scratch a lens, regardless if there is a filter on it or not. In addition, if a lens was badly hit and the front component was destroyed, there is usually significant interior damage as well.  All of this implies that if you drop your lens that has a UV filter and the filter smashes but not the lens, you most likely just broke a filter. In any case, the lens would've been fine. So if you would've dropped your camera that has a UV filter and it shatters, the filter wouldn't have been much help anyway.

This is not to say that UV filters provide no protection. It simply implies that they do not protect against harsh falls. They're typically excellent for shielding your lens from dust, dirt, sea spray, sand, and other minor environmental threats.

What Does a UV Filter Do for a DSLR?

A UV protection lens filter is a lens filter that mounts to the front of a camera lens and decreases the quantity of ultraviolet radiation that enters the camera. This is extremely crucial when photographing with film. Film material is more susceptible to UV radiation and can cause photodegradation.  Digital cameras, on the other hand, are not as susceptible to UV radiation. Photographers who shoot digitally, on the other hand, use UV filters to safeguard the front components of their lenses.

Dropping any kind of camera lens is the most straightforward way to damage it. However, the glass in UV filters is typically significantly weaker than the glass in most camera lenses. This implies that they will usually shatter while your lens just wouldn't otherwise. UV filters don't shield your lens from internal damages either. There are far more glass components within a lens than just the frontal component. Dropping your lens with one on will cause just as much internal damage as dropping it without one.

However, while lens filters will not protect your lens from falls, they will safeguard your lens from other threats. They can shield your lens from scratching caused by minor contact with abrasive surfaces. They can shield your lens from environmental challenges including dust, grime, snow, and even salt in the air while shooting near the sea. If you are a photographer or filmmaker with a pricey lens who often shoots in hazardous conditions, a UV filter for your lens might be useful.

When To Use a UV Filter on a DSLR?

A UV filter won't make a significant difference in picture quality. It will, however, make a big difference if your lens is knocked when it's most vulnerable, possibly saving you hundreds of dollars in damages. The main argument in support of using a filter appears to be that over time, as you use a lens and clean it, you will cause scratching on your lens. They will affect the quality of your photographs as they become deeper over time. Not just scratches, either. If you're into nature, street, or any other type of outdoor photography, you're continually exposing your pricey lenses to elements that can be harmful to such fragile gear. Using a filter is comparable to donning protective goggles. In the end, whether or not you should use a UV filter is determined by the type of photography you undertake. If you're regularly photographing in dusty surroundings or settings with environmental elements, using a UV filter would be in your best interest.

UV light is practically insignificant when it comes to DSLRs. Thus, UV filters are mostly utilized as a form of protection. While it will not protect your lens from direct impact, it will protect it from dirt, dust, and other elements. It's up to you to decide whether this additional protection is worth the extra bucks.

Piper O'Shanassy

Piper O'Shanassy

Piper grew up with a love of animals, which quickly turned into a love of photographing them. She shares her tips and tricks on photography, and hopes she can help you shortcut your expansion of a passion.

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