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I'm looking to buy a Skylight filter leave permanently attached to a lens for the primary purpose of protecting it. I don't really understand the difference between Skylight 1A and Skylight 1B filters. So, which of the two is the better choice for a general and always on filter?

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See also this other question:… – Rowland Shaw Jul 24 '10 at 7:28
Also, the more recent… – vanden Jul 25 '10 at 16:01
buying a filter for protection purposes is great idea. in-fact i use a sky-1a filter for protection. when i find myself taking pictures or video that shows ghosting (usually in bright light or direct sunlight) with the filter. i just take the filter off take my pictures and then put it back on. people who find themselves getting frustrated and say not to use a protective filter are just lazy to take there filter off when it ghosts. I'm a professional videographer that shoots action sports.since the chance a rock, mud, snow, or dust has more likelihood to get on my lens, thats why i almost alwa – user23005 Nov 1 '13 at 1:19
up vote 8 down vote accepted

The difference is that Skylight 1B has a slight pink tint, to add some warmth to the images.

If you have a digital camera and use automatic white balance, there will be no practical difference at all between the filters as the white balancing compensates for the color tint. I would choose 1A as it has no tint, so it affects the incoming light less.

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The value of any UV filter for a dSLR is questionable. On the lens protection front, a filter that is broken, as noted, can scratch the lens, thus undoing any protection it may have offered in the first place. The other downside is that the filter can cause unexpected ghosting of light sources in your image as a result of reflection, something that will annoy the heck out of you.

In any case, cameras and lenses are not as delicate as some make them out to be. Photographers have been running around with these in everything ranging from extreme weather to extreme violence without destruction of their gear, so unless you're extraordinarily clumsy and likely to bounce your camera and lens off of hard surfaces on a regular basis, I wouldn't worry about it. Buy your filters for photographic effect, not protection.

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You might consider lenses that aren't fully weather without a filter (like the 16-35 L II). – Alan Jul 24 '10 at 4:38
I'd say it's worth it for situations like: – Rowland Shaw Jul 24 '10 at 7:29
@Alan: And some are and some will never be even with a filter. @Rowland: Sure, it happens, but it is not so common that one should be paranoid about it. Also, you assume that the lens would have cracked had the filter not been there, but the lens is often recessed and so might not have. Anyways, it is a risk to reward scenario. Filters can affect your image, so if you accept that on the off chance you may crack the front element, then go for it. I just don't think the protection is as strong as people think it is. – John Cavan Jul 24 '10 at 13:28
"filter that is broken, as noted, can scratch the lens, thus undoing any protection it may have offered in the first place." worse still, I've had (when I still used filters for "protection") had a lens get bumped, causing the filter to not only crack but the brass ring and thread to get distorted, jamming it on the lens. Required a vice and heavy pliers to remove, caused permanent damage to the thread on the lens. Without a filter, nothing would have happened to the heavier steel thread on the lens. – jwenting Feb 28 '11 at 9:18

1A is clearer than 1B, which will tint and add warmth.

Best filter to always have on is none.

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But having no filter on doesn't serve the purpose of protection. – Guffa Jul 24 '10 at 1:41
In many cases, a hood provides better protection. Filters shatter easily, scratching the front element. Sandy beaches is the only place I'd use a filter, but you had better have a fully weathersealed body and lens to go with it. – Eruditass Jul 24 '10 at 2:06
and UV filter would be better than one of these tinted ones (including haze). – Eruditass Jul 24 '10 at 2:13
But aren't pretty much all decent lenses UV coated these days? In that case, isn't a UV filter wasn't adding nothing save the protection and a bit of image degradation? – vanden Jul 24 '10 at 2:51
No, lenses are not UV coated, digital sensors are just not sensitive to UV. I said a UV filter would be better than the aforementioned in the one scenario I described: on a windy sandy beach. – Eruditass Jul 24 '10 at 3:34

UV (or any other clear) filters have a purpose, but as others have said, they are NOT generally necessary or especially useful to protect or shield the camera lens. I much prefer a good full round lens hood, preferably flexible rubber, to protect the front of the lens from bumps. Soft rubber is preferable to hard plastic or metal, as the rubber provides some "give" if the camera is bumped or dropped, thereby absorbing most of the forces generated. This protects not only the lens but also the lens threads and mounting lugs.

What are UV filters good for? Well, it depends... UV filters were originally designed to protect sensitive films (remember film?). As mentioned elsewhere, Digital cameras don't generally have this worry.

UV filters can also be used to protect human eyes from concentrated UV in a view finder. If you shoot a lot with the viewfinder constantly at the eye and are taking in bright outdoor scenes, particularly with sunlight reflections off of water, snow, bright sand, glass or metal (i.e. motorcar and architecture), there is a small chance of causing what amounts to a sunburn on the surface of your eye. UV filters will reduce this possibility. If you don't have or use a "live" viewfinder, this is, or course, moot.

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I like to use cling wrap around my lenses, all the way round both objective lens and lens mount. Give it a couple of wraps and it keeps out weather and dust altogether and doesn't really degrade image quality as far as I can tell - believe it or not. I strongly recommend trying it.

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You'll surely get horrible flare or reflections – MikeW Mar 13 '14 at 23:43

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