Should you use a UV/Haze Filter?

I put this on my list of topics to explore a while back. Good grief!  I had not idea that some photographers get really upset about this topic! It is almost like the Napoleon Dynamite effect – either photographers hate UV/Haze filters or they swear by them.

Since I don’t want to reinvent the wheel, here is a good article by Tom Axford summarizing the issues with UV/Haze filters.  After you read through this, I’ll give you my thoughts on it.

Should You Use a UV Filter on Your Lens?

I began taking photographs in the late 80s during the age of film.  I had a UV/Haze filter on all my lenses. With film, UV/Haze was important.  So, when my wife bought me my first digital DSLR, I thought that I always need that filter. So, to Amazon I went. And filters I bought.

Then, as I was exploring ways to improve my landscape photography, I ran across several blogs and articles that argued for and against the UV/Haze filter (honestly, some photographers treat this with as much passion as people are about loving or hating Donald Trump!).

So, where do I fall on this earth-shattering issue?  I no longer use them with digital photography, and the reason is ghosting in the image.

I live in the Metro Atlanta area, and, shockingly, I had never visited the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Center and historical district in Atlanta.  When a friend visiting from Brazil came to Atlanta, all he wanted to see was the King Center. My family and I took him there (I think I am going to go there again by myself and wander slowly . . . ).

As I walked through the campus of the King Center, I knew I was on holy ground – particularly the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, which is now under the stewardship of the U.S. National Park Service.  You can read information about the church here.

IMG_3966 (1)
The sign in front of Ebenezer Baptist Church.  Photo by Lee Reese.

I was delighted when the U.S. park ranger serving in the church allowed me to take photographs.

I moved slowly through the church, which has an amazing and, sometimes, shocking history (read this for a brief history of the church). So, through my photography, I wanted to focus on the pulpit, where Dr. King and his father preached.  I wanted to capture the place where Dr. King proclaimed his message of hope, particularly the old-school microphone.

When I got home and began processing the images, I noticed something.  The images that I was most excited about had ghosting in the image because of the UV filter I had on my 50mm prime.


Needless to say, my heart was broken.

Since then, I have taken all UV/Haze filers off my lenses and work hard to take care of my lenses and keep them capped when I am not using them (take a look at my previous blog post on lens caps). Yes, the risk of damage to the front element increases, but it seems to me that damage will more likely occur when I am not using the lens than when I am using it (there is some logic there, but my brain is too tired to explain it).

If you love your UV/Haze on your filters, go for it.  Yes, they do provide protection to your objective element. Just be aware that in certain lighting situations that ghosting can occur.

Keep shooting, knuckleheads!

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