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"Digital" protection filters…baloney or not?

Forums Forums Get Technical Hardware "Digital" protection filters…baloney or not?

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    Greetings fellow Farktographoids. I’m throwing this question out to y’all to see if you think about this.

    I work in a camera store in an affluent suburb of Cleveland. I don’t actually sell cameras, as I’m the lab guy who occasionally gnaws through the leather belts that keep me tied to my Agfa D-lab printer. We sell a LOT of cameras, all digital (the only film cameras we have are Fuji Quicksnap disposables and a handful of used film SLRs that make nice doorstops.)

    Theres not a lot of markup on the DSLRs, so the salespeople make their commissions on all the accessory goodies like memory cards, straps, cases and filters…which brings me to my query: “Do I really need a digital protection filter?”

    The issue isnt whether or not I need that little bit of protective glass in front of my lens…its cheaper to replace a filter than it is to replace the lens. My question is, do I really need to fork out $44.99 for a 58mm digital filter when a $16.99 UV filter will do the same thing?

    The store manager claims up and down that you GOTTA have a digital filter on your lens or the whole of Western Civilization will come falling down on your head. He claims that it screws up your white balance if you arent using the more expensive piece of glass. Of course, he fails to mention that he makes a much bigger commission on that filter (20%) than he does on the UV filter (10%).

    For kicks and giggles, heres a little rundown on the costs of these filters:
    58mm UV filter, sells for $16.99, actual cost is $2.55.
    58mm multicoated UV filter, sells for $24.99, actual cost $4.97.
    58mm Digital Protection Filter, sells for $44.99, actual cost $12.80.

    I’ve yet to “borrow” these three filters to see if theres any real difference in the results (I figure I can run the files through Photoshop and take color readings to see if theres any real difference.)

    So what’s your take, gang? Crock or legitimate hardware? (inquiring lab techs want to know.)


    58mm? Sounds like Canon. Junk the lot of ’em.

    / 😉
    // don’t actually have anything worthwhile to add….


    58mm? Sounds like Canon. Junk the lot of ’em.

    / 😉
    // don’t actually have anything worthwhile to add….

    Watch out Nikon Boy…We have Canons and are not afraid to shoot them!

    /I’ve never heard of a “digital protection filter”

    //I have UV filters or for the most part no filter.



    When I first bought my lenses I also bought a set of medium-cheapo UV filters for exactly this reason. I was concerned about damaging the outer glass element and people had suggested I would get better pictures using the UV filters anyway. 2 years later and they sit in my bag, having not been used in a very long time. The circular polarizer I bought gets used about once a year and I almost always regret it.

    Here’s the thing: I spent a lot of money buying really nice glass. That nice glass translates into nice sharp pictures and that makes me happy because I’m a detail-whore. Guess what happens when you put a $25 filter in front of a $1200 lens? That’s right, you get a $25 picture.

    In the last two years, I have accrued 280,000 frequent flier miles while traveling to 10+ countries (most of them repeatedly) and not a single one of my lenses has a scratch on it. I am careful with my gear and I take the time to put it away properly, but I am not afraid to use it in inclement weather or bad conditions. The only real protection they get are the lens hoods which I use religiously and which make it nearly impossible to accidentally hit the outer element with/on anything.

    So yeah, “crock” for me. If you are careful, mindful of your surroundings, and willing to learn the ins and outs of digital photo processing, there is no reason to use a filter.


    58mm? Sounds like Canon. Junk the lot of ’em.

    / 😉

    58mm was the first filter I ran across in the filter drawer, and we happened to have a multicoat UV, regular UV and the digital filter. My normal lens on my Nikon D200 is an 18-70mm that takes a 62mm (I think)


    So yeah, “crock” for me. If you are careful, mindful of your surroundings, and willing to learn the ins and outs of digital photo processing, there is no reason to use a filter.

    I hears ya. I tend to be a bit of a klutz and have this bad tendency to smack my camera into things as I run around like a madman taking pictures. That was part of the reason I got a D200 – sturdy metal body, rubber gaskets on all the doors and hatches, plus I put a silicone Camera Armor skin on it to lessen the inevitable shock of banging into things (yeah, I know, I’m a bad person who doesnt take care of his toys.)

    I really don’t see any difference in my shots, whether I have a filter on or not. It just grates on me to see my coworkers blatantly lie to customers in an attempt to sell an unneeded item. The biggest reason I use a filter is because my greyhound tends to stick his nose on my lens whenever I have it slung over my shoulder.

    (Hey, maybe that can be a new Farktography event…”Dog Nose Prints”.)


    I only have a filter on my 60mm macro lens…….pricy (and superb!) bit of Nikon glass that i use often. guy at the camera store suggested it only for protection, and he’s never steered me wrong, seeing as he’s something of a Nikon-nut himself.

    He never suggesed that i put a filter on my other lenses, as i use lens hoods on those, but with the macro there was a scratch risk, mainly because i’m careless and clumsy – something i term recklessly enthusiastic…

    I say “bollocks”.


    UV filters *are* usually very very slightly pinkish. You might be able to see this if you stick one down on top of a white piece of paper.

    Here’s the thing though – if this was going to be a problem for people, it would have been a problem back when they were shooting slide film (which is very sensitive to color shifts and can’t easily be corrected), not on digital where the camera can adjust the WB automatically and it’s absolutely trivial to correct in post processing when the camera gets it wrong…..


    Guess what happens when you put a $25 filter in front of a $1200 lens? That’s right, you get a $25 picture.

    I dunno about that. I’ve taken several pictures with the cheapy UV filter on or off, and don’t see a difference. I’d say its worth an insignificant loss in quality or a bit of distortion to protect the glass from dust and scratches.

    Then again, I’m only using a $450 lens. I think I’d be more apt to believe you if someone looked at my pics one day and said “oh this is nice, but would have been better without the filter on.”

    edit: my lens is multipurpose, so I wind up poking around with things near the glass, and I don’t own a hood. And my $.02 on the ‘digital’ filter thing is that its probably bullcrap, like monster’s $150 HDMI cables vs $12 ones you can get on newegg. It’s just a gimmick to sound more important.


    I can’t recommend a protective filter enough.

    I have had a camera fall forward while on a tripod onto the lens only to have a slight dint on the filter instead of the lens and I have accidently knocked a lens out of a bag once for it to fall about half a metre, the lens cap was knocked off and only the filter was smashed when it landed on the second bounce (I was crying inside until I got home to discover it was just the filter – I thought I had done the inner glass as well)

    The only downside I have seen is that occasionally it will create some extra ghosting.


    I quit using filters on my lenses due to flare and ghosting, especially the deep set 50 f/1.8. Last week, I managed to drop both my D50 and my D90 out of my bag, the 50 onto a wood dance floor, the 90 onto concrete. Both landed lens down and popped off the lens cap, the 90 had my 35 f/1.8 on, and there’s a little scuffing of the hood, but all still seem to work fine.

    As for your manager? He probably got to be manager by convincing people to buy the high margin items.


    I don’t use filters at all. After four years, one of my lenses, my 28-75, has a front element that isn’t anything to particularly be proud of, as it doesn’t ever seem to completely come clean, but it doesn’t seem to make a difference in my shots. I do so much night shooting that has a lot of stray light bouncing around that I don’t want to put any more glass in front of the elements that I don’t have to. I also don’t like the idea of moisture becoming trapped in between the filter and the lens, which I have seen happen. I am incredibly tough on my lenses, taking them out in sub-zero temperatures, rain, on the ocean, etc, and they have all held up well.

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