Incense

by Bart Arondson

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I got the Pentax smc DA★ 200mm f/2.8 ED (IF) SDM from an online camera gear rental company as part of the Photography Stack Exchange Lending Library experiment. (Thanks, Stack Exchange!) This is a relatively fancy lens; one of Pentax's most expensive, and it's got heavy-duty build and features, including weather sealing. I wasn't surprised to see that the rental company sent it with a UV filter (which the insert says is "mostly for protection"), but I was disappointed to see that it's the cheapest Tiffen protection filter, which is generally not well-regarded.

Now, I realize that it's my responsibility to protect the lens, but part of my reason for renting is to see what the lens can do, and having it impaired by a cheap filter is not really what I wanted. So, I've taken it off and am going to be ultra-careful. Since I'm beyond phase where I had a high risk of a two-year-old suddenly flinging sand at me at the playground, I usually don't use a protective filter on my own lenses, even the pricier ones, and nothing horrible has happened to me yet. And this one comes with a really hefty and solid lens hood which makes me feel pretty safe in the field.

If the filter were a super-multicoated B+W or Hoya — or maybe even a fancier Tiffen filter — I'd be inclined to leave it on (at least outside of some technical tests). Or if I had a high-quality 77mm ⌀ UV filter of my own, maybe I'd swap that in — but I don't.

I'm going to ask the company about this, but I wonder if it's standard practice, and what people who rent lenses usually do. The company didn't even send a protective storage case for the filter; it seems pretty clear that they expect it to be left in place.

Do most camera lens rental companies send their lenses with protective filters? What kind of filters do they use if so? And what do people who do this a lot do about it?

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3  
I think I'm more amazed that you were able to rent a Pentax lens! –  John Cavan Mar 24 '12 at 1:27
    
I've rented Pentax lenses, too, but that probably means we rented them from the same place, so there's no point in me answering. Anyway, I rented the DA*300/4, loved it, and bought it. I'm sure its 200mm sibling will be just as nice. –  coneslayer Mar 24 '12 at 1:57
    
Mind sharing which place miraculously rents Pentax DSLR lenses? –  Itai Mar 24 '12 at 2:17
1  
It's cameralensrentals.com — I didn't link originally because this is kind of a negative post and I'm not trying to complain about them (they seem like a pretty awesome outfit overall), especially since I haven't given them a chance to respond to my inquiry. –  mattdm Mar 24 '12 at 2:32
    
What an awesome selection of Pentax gear. They even have a few which I don't :) Sadly, in their FAQ, the point Canadian visitors to a site which does NOT rent Pentax gear. That's a pretty awful thing to do to a Pentaxian :( –  Itai Mar 25 '12 at 18:22

2 Answers 2

up vote 3 down vote accepted

I've rented two from LensRentals.com, a 15-85 and 100-400L, and neither came with a UV filter. Personally, I wouldn't expect a rented lens to come with a filter since a purchased lens doesn't come with one; like any other lens you get into your possession, the damage-quality tradeoff is up to you to make.

LensRentals.com's FAQ explains why, and comes down on the side of image quality (without penalizing the renter):

Because we believe filters degrade image quality to a slight degree, we do not put UV filters on the lenses unless you specifically order them. Because that is our choice we do not consider the renter responsible for minor hairline scratches to the front element.

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Not sure of how much usually this sample represents but I can tell you that the store where I teach photography rents all lenses with a UV filter and the firs thing I do is take it off.

As part of the same Lending Library experiment, I rented a Canon lens and it did not come with a UV filter. I suppose that means Lens Rentals Canada probably does not send filters with every lens.

This puts my sample of two places as 50% cheap filters and 50% no filters.

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Lens Rentals US has the option to add a free UV filter to your cart if you rent a lens, but they have never included one automatically for me. –  dpollitt Mar 24 '12 at 3:24
    
I've rented a few times from BorrowLenses.com and they always come with a filter. –  ahockley Mar 24 '12 at 17:39

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