Learning About UV Filters
UV filters were once an indispensable part of every keen photographer's tool kit. The film of yesteryear was highly sensitive to ultraviolet light, so photographers who didn't use filters often found their outdoor photos marred by a blue haze. This was especially true for pictures taken on sunny days, near water or snow, or at elevated locations. For this reason, ultraviolet filters were often referred to as "haze filters."
Thanks to modern technology, blue haze is a thing of the past. In most cases, today's film and digital sensors handle UV light just fine without the need for filtration. Polarizing filters are more popular today as they darken skies, manage reflections, and suppress glare. However, UV filters are still used today, mainly to protect camera lenses from getting damaged.
What Are UV Filters for Cameras?
Filters are made of glass, and attach to the front of your lens to block ultraviolet light, the invisible light found just under the blue end of the visual spectrum. Some lens filters use plain glass and others feature various coatings to enhance the filtration process.
UV lens filters come in a range of price points, depending on their build and particularly the quality of the glass used. High-end filters often feature thin and optically pure glass. Other features of quality filters include the coating and the materials used for the retaining ring. Brass is the material of choice for high-end photo filters, while budget models favor aluminum.
What Is a UV Filter Used for in Photography?
As ultraviolet light is no longer a problem for film or digital cameras, the primary purpose of UV lens filters today is the protection they offer. Fitting a filter helps keep your lenses safe from dust, moisture, fingerprint smudges, and accidents, such as knocks and falls. It's also far cheaper to replace filters than lenses.
Should You Use a UV Filter on Your Lens?
UV lens filters make sound investments for the protection they provide. This is especially true if you shoot at locations such as beaches or jungles where there's a high risk of scratching or moisture damage. Packing one or several in your camera bag along with items such as solar photography filters is a smart move.
However, one issue with filters is that they do block a very small amount (between 0.1% and 5%) of light, and this may affect picture quality in terms of contrast and sharpness. On the other hand, some critics maintain that picture degradation would be even higher with a naked lens that had scratches from no protection by a filter.
Check out the wide range of quality infrared and UV photography filters and used filters and accessories at B&H Photo Video.