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I got into the habit of buying off-the-shelf UV filters early on, and I've stuck to it. My M. Zuiko 'kit' lenses always have their UV filters fitted, except when I want to use something else like an ND or a circular polariser. I do this to protect the glass on the lens from dust, moisture and scratches. I'm now finding myself looking for a 46mm filter for a prime lens, which leads me here to confirm my habit is healthy. The Hoya filter I'm looking at says "Keep the filter attached to the lens to use as lens protection", but there must be circumstances where I'd get a better picture with it removed.

Is this a bad habit, which I need to kick?

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  • @Tetsujin not wholly, no. It's related, but it doesn't answer it. juhist has done a good job below. – spikey_richie May 8 at 18:15
  • The subject of UV filters as protection has been asked here many, many times before. This question is not a unique take on the subject that hasn't been addressed at Photo-SE. – scottbb May 8 at 19:56
  • @spikey_richie There's a long list of similar questions included in this answer to is uv filter a must? Most all of them have answers that say what the answer below says. (Many also mention that a lens hood is much better protection from drops and hard impacts with none of the optical penalties of filters.) – Michael C May 10 at 3:06
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Is this a bad habit, which I need to kick?

Consider this:

Would you use your camera in all situations where you currently use your camera, if you didn't have UV filters?

I do this to protect the glass on the lens from dust, moisture and scratches

Strictly speaking, dust is removable with moving air, an UV filter won't make a non-weather sealed lens into a weather sealed lens, and dropping a camera with UV filter in front of the lens could actually damage the UV filter in a manner that also damages the lens front element -- perhaps even more than without an UV filter.

Also, you can damage the lens front element very, very much indeed without it being visible in the photos. Damage to the rear element is worst. Fortunately, the rear element is well protected. (For fun, do an experiment: cover the upper half of the front element entirely, you'll see from the photos you only halved your exposure and affected the shape of bokeh balls -- the lens can perfectly well form an image with only the lower half of the front element.)

So from a purely rational perspective, UV filters might not be worth the cost, and a lens hood might be a better protector for the lens front element against scratches.

For me, an UV filter was just the thing that made me use the camera in situations I wouldn't otherwise have used it. So even though I understand that it might not be worth the money in a purely rational sense, it's certainly worth it to me, enabling me to use the camera without any worry of damaging the front element. (Probably I'm over-worried of damaging the front element...)

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  • I think your last paragraph sums up well. I am perhaps a little bolder/less concerned when the filter is attached, as I'm aware it's offering an amount of protection that wouldn't otherwise be there. – spikey_richie May 8 at 17:55
  • I think one situation, where it could have a benefit, is protection against sparks, e.g. when photographing someone working with an angle grinder. – Matt May 8 at 18:40

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