Lens Filter: How to Protect Your Camera Lens

10:21 am

 Source: John Salvador
 Source: John Salvador

My first pricey lens was a 50mm purchased at a local camera shop down the street. The salesperson had the foresight to sell me a UV filter - it actually didn’t do much in terms of changing shadows and and highlights, but he said I should get it in case I scratch my lens. I figured he was probably getting paid on commission but having something to protect my lens didn’t sound like a bad idea.

8 years and 2 broken lens filters later, I have that salesperson at the camera store to thank for protecting my expensive lenses.

The first time I really put my lens filter to work was on the descend of a hike in northern Ontario. It had rained the day before and leaves had started to shed in preparation for winter. As I hiked down, with Alex a good 30 yards in front of me, I suddenly grew concerned of slipping and falling. I probably jinxed myself because in the next moment, I was sitting on the ground. My lens hit the forest floor, hard. When I picked it up, the lens filter had 2 large cracks through it. I took it off immediately, not even wanting to think about what would have happened if I didn’t have the filter on.

The second time was far worse. My 35mm was attached to my camera and placed safely - or so I thought - inside my camera bag. But as I maneuvered to pick up some extra luggage from the ground, the camera bag slipped off of my shoulder and landed on the ground. When I opened the bag, I could hear shards of glass shaking. My heart sank and I prepared to uncover a broken 35mm lens that had been purchased less than 1 year old - and mentally calculated the financial set back. My lens cap was so jammed in that I had to use plyers to just get the cap off. In the process of taking the completely shattered lens filter off of my 35mm lens, I ALSO accidentally cut myself on the broken glass. But underneath the completely destroyed filter sat the 35mm, without a single scratch. Phew!

Some folks on the Internet will tell you that a filter is a completely useless thing. They will say there is Photoshop and Lightroom and you can change colors, dim highlights, lighten shadows with any of the photo editing software out there. But to those people I ask, have you ever broken a lens?

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