Why UV Filters HURT More Than They Help (VIDEO)

Earlier this month we featured a tutorial explaining why low ISO settings can ruin the photo of a lifetime. Today we have another video contradicting conventional wisdom, and you may discover that you’re been making a simple mistake all along.

Many photographers use UV filter filters to reduce the amount of ultraviolet light that passes into a camera. Another so-called benefit is that these affordable accessories also protect the front element of a lens from dirt, fingerprints and damage.

It’s obviously preferable to replace a cracked filter than buying a news lens. But according to German landscape pro Jan Wegener, “Today I’ll show you why using UV filters is such a awful idea, and why it’s actually best to remove them and throw them away.”

Before digging into your camera cabinet and trashing all your UV filters, you should watch the video and learn Wegener’s rationale. By doing this you may feel better about the money you wasted. Wegener provides real-world examples to reinforce his view.

“But what about protecting my lens?” you ask. Well, Wegener has a better solution for doing that too. His main point, however, is what these filters do to image quality, and he put things bluntly: “You can be the best photographer in the world, with the best gear, and a perfect setting. But if you use one of the filters in front of a lens you’re very unlikely to take great images.”

OK, WOW! How can this be true? According to Wegener, inexpensive filters may make a lot of money for camera retailers, “but they come with a steep downside for you as a photographer.” To settle this debate once and for all, Wegener purchased two filters; a cheap one for $30 and a high-end option costing over $100.

Equipped with the filters, a $5,000 100-500mm zoom, and two pro cameras, Wegener headed out in the field for a shootout. His approach was simple: Make the same image without a filter, and two more using both the cheap and expensive filter.

Take a look at his results and see what you think. Personally, I’m going to use my UV filters as beverage coasters from now on. How about you?

You can find many more tips and tricks on Wegener’s YouTube channel. Earlier this month we posted a tutorial on another “image-killing” practice, explaining why low ISO settings can ruin your photos.