Protective Filters


Today’s Question: Do you use any protective filters on your lenses? If so, which filters do you use and why? If not, why not?

Tim’s Quick Answer: I do not use any protective filters on my lenses. My reasoning is, I suppose, mostly philosophical. I like to keep my “workflow” as simple as possible. I also don’t like to buy unnecessary accessories. And at least in theory my aim is to maximize image quality. Naturally this means I take responsibility for not damaging my front lens element.

More Detail: So far this strategy has worked for me, insofar as I have never in my many years of photography damaged a lens in a way that would have been prevented by having a filter on the front of the lens.

To be fair, replacing a filter that gets damaged is much less expensive than replacing the front lens elements (or worse). So there are certainly good arguments in favor of using a filter on the front of the lens purely to protect that lens. I just don’t choose to take that approach.

I should perhaps add that I also don’t use a protective case with my iPhone. So again, this is in large part a philosophical consideration. In theory having a filter on the front of the lens will reduce sharpness to some extent, but with today’s high-quality filters I consider the quality impact to be relatively minimal.

In other words, if you feel more comfortable with an “extra” filter on the front of your lenses to help protect the lens itself, I think you should absolutely use such a filter.