Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Protecting Camera Lenses

I cannot remember who first told me to do this, but I'm glad that he did: screw a UV filter onto the front lens of any SLR camera to protect the lens from scratches, dust, and other injuries. I have always done it with all of my SLR lenses, and today I had the proof of its utility. The other day, I dropped the camera case a short distance onto concrete. Today, my wife noticed that the front UV filter is cracked. We took a whole bunch of pictures while on our recent trip to Reno that were not impaired by this crack, but it is nice that the UV filter to the damage, not the Tamron 70 – 300 X zoom lens.

I just ordered two replacement Tiffen UV filters. At about $13 with shipping each, this is far cheaper than replacing the zoom lens.


  1. I too learned that lesson the easy way. Although back in the day it was a skylight filter.

    Also, by very carefully cleaning the front of the lens only once, then sealing it in with the filter you don't run the risk of damaging the lens by aggressive cleaning.

  2. My Dad taught me the exact same lesson.

    Although you can't put lenses on my current camera. My advices it to get some thin (1/10") Acrylic and attach it over the viewscreen with double-sided tape (On the frame not the screen). That has saved my digital cameras from screen damage innumerable times.

  3. A pro photographer told me that this can reduce sharpness a bit, when you're using top-quality lenses. And considering the quality of the pictures he was taking with his Canon EOS II and his $1500 35-70 f/4 zoom, compared to the quality of the pictures I was taking with my Canon EOS II and my $200 35-70 f/4 zoom, I tended to believe him.

    Of course, your Tamron isn't capable of the sharpness where this would be an issue. And neither are any of the lenses I've ever been able to afford.

  4. jdege: This is not at all surprising. The more layers of glass you put into the path, the more degradation will inevitably happen, even if the glass is very precisely figured (which I am sure is NOT the case with the UV filters). is where I compared the difference in optical quality between the Tamron and a genuine Pentax lens that I bought on eBay. It is immediately apparently how much of an improvement it makes.

    This does suggest an interesting experiment to perform with the Pentax 100-300x lens, however.