Saturday, January 2, 2010

Photography with Imre Z. Balint: Episode 8 - UV Filters

Well I was supposed to do an episode on polarizing filters, but having cloudy skies this week didn't help. Polarizers have a really cool effect on a blue sky that I wanted to record, so I'll just have to wait until next week to do that.

But this morning I managed to upload Episode 8 to YouTube featuring UV filters.

UV filters are overall quite simple things, and as I pointed out in the video, what it tends to come down to in digital photography is your stance on protecting the exposed front lens element of your lenses. I've been on some forums where this topic comes up and I have to admit that I find it quite amusing when photographers become quite passionate (even angry!) about their use.

In my humble opinion, I personally believe to each their own. If you feel that you'd rather not use one to maximize every ounce of quality coming from your lens, then don't use one. On the other hand, good quality UV filters do offer wonderful benefits in regard to keeping dust, moisture, and other hazards away from that expensive glass, without affecting image quality much at all. So if you like the idea of the latter, then use one. As I mentioned on the video, I tend to use them (although not always if I'm feeling too lazy to bother putting one on) when in environments that pose a threat to that front lens, such as shooting in rain or snow. By the way, be mindful that you have equipment that is weather sealed and can withstand such conditions, otherwise you could permanently damage your gear. However, I tend not to use one in most other cases, but like I said that's just me.

Fair warning though... If you are planning to get a UV filter to protect your lens, I recommend carefully considering the varieties available, as they may have slight color casts that could affect your photographs, and some are just plain cheap in terms of being poorly manufactured. Those could create visible artifacts on your images, especially flaring and reflections as they may not be well coated.

The last note I would like add in this post touches upon protecting your gear in general. Getting in to some of these good habits could easily prevent many unfortunate accidents from happening; truly a good thing!
  • One habit I've religiously adhered to when I pick up and handle my camera is to always, always either put the camera strap around my neck or wrap it around my wrist. This almost completely eliminates any chance of me dropping the camera for whatever reason.
  • When you're changing lenses, do so in such a way that you can easily and securely grab hold of the camera and lens. Not a good idea to hold a cup of coffee in one hand while fiddling around with one hand to change lenses. Generally I keep my camera strap around my neck so I don't need to worry about dropping it, and that also allows me to basically have two hands free to deal with the lens change.
  • Also, try to change your lenses over a softer surface or get closer to one, so that if by chance you drop your lens, it won't have far to go which might prevent it from smashing into little itty bitty pieces. For example, if there's a table nearby then change your lens over it. Another is to crouch down while changing.
  • If you're not the type to go to such lengths to change lenses, then perhaps getting a good camera bag may make things safer and easier for you. One of my favorite bags I have has a zipper running through the middle of the top "lid". This allows me to pluck things out without having to open the large flap that covers everything up. So I can open the zipper, remove my lens with both hands, put the lens away, pull out the next lens, and attach it with both hands, all the while the camera happily hangs from my neck.
I'd rather take the time to safely change my lens then risk the chance that I not only have to buy another one to replace it, but also missing that ever important chance of a lifetime shot. :)

Remember to subscribe to my channel and also feel free to submit your photography questions to me (please click the link before submitting questions) as I might just answer them on my next episode!

Web Resources
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visible_spectrum
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ultraviolet
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Photographic_filter#Clear_and_ultraviolet
http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tutorials/camera-lens-filters.htm
http://www.bythom.com/filters.htm
http://photo.net/equipment/filters/ - This site demonstrates the differences between some UV filters

Some Filter Manufacturers
http://www.hoyafilter.com/
http://www.tiffen.com/
http://www.cokin.com/
http://www.singh-ray.com/
http://www.rodenstock.com/


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