If you've done your homework and still wish to use a full-time protective filter, get a multicoated clear protector instead of a UV or Skylight filter. Neither Nikon dSLR's nor modern Nikkor lenses benefit from additional UV filtration.
A "short list" of candidates include the Nikon NC, Hoya Pro1 Digital, B+W #007 MRC, Tiffen HT and the Marumi Super DHG Protector. I prefer the brass rings used by B+W, but the price differential can easily outweigh any benefit.
If you want to photograph a man spinning, give some thought to why he spins. Understanding for a photographer is as important as the equipment he uses. - Margaret Bourke-White
Sun 22-Jan-12 02:57 AM | edited Sun 22-Jan-12 03:01 AM by mklass
Unless you think you are going to be in a situation where you are bashing the front of your lens into blunt objects, don't bother. If you either keep the lens cap on when not shooting, or use the lens hood, you probably don't need a protective filter. (I will make an exception for shooting in a sandstorm.)
This is a thing camera equipment salesman tell their customers just so they can sell them more stuff.
Filters are notoriously hard to clean, once dirty. This will degrade your image quality. Front elements of lenses are much easier to clean if you get a smudge on them.
Thanks for the responses. I was a little surprised re the suggestion not to use a clear filter for protecting the lens front. I take great care not to "bash" the front of my lens but I thought a clear filter was just good practice anyway for those times that could result on the front of the lens being touched in some way by a hard object.
It's an easy line of reasoning to buy into. However, there are a variety of lenses that cannot accept a filter under any circumstances - mostly ultra-wide angles like my Sigma 12-24 or the Nikkor 14-24/f2.8, or the entire group of fisheyes. As a group, they have bulbous front elements - specifically the ones that would be the most physically exposed. Some fisheyes, like the Sigma 8/4 and 4.5/f2.8 DX, can't even accommodate a lens hood, since their field of view extends 180 degrees in all directions. And yet, for all of the near-hysteria about protecting lens front elements, in 40 years of photography, I have literally never heard of anyone having their ultra-wide or fisheye destroyed or even damaged, with the owner regretting the lack of a protective filter.
Also, don't forget that a filter can go awry too. One of my most expensive lenses has a bloody great scratch gouged out of the front element's retaining ring. It was left there by a "protective" filter whose rear-facing retaining ring broke, and removing it fortunately damaged the retaining ring and not the front element - but it was a very close call.
Having said that, those of us who "don't" use protective filters usually do have them in the bag for those circumstances that are significantly higher risk than usual. I have a clear filter for each filter size, used for hikes up the Mist Trail in Yosemite, at the seaside in the spray - or when photographing two-year-olds with donut jelly on their fingers, or particularly friendly puppies... The risks are usually much higher for this kind of "soft" danger than for the proverbial hammer and nail. Those are better fended off with care and a lens hood. I think that the Marumi clear protective filters are by a wide margin the best value. I have Nikon, Rodenstock, Hoya, B+W and Heliopan filters, and the Marumi ones seem to do just as well - at half the price. They are said to be harder to clean than others, but if so, it's not by much and I haven't noticed.
_____ Brian... a bicoastal Nikonian and Team Member
My gallery is online. Comments and critique welcomed any time!
My thought process is similar to Brian - I use a filter when it is called for. I use a multicoated clear filter rather than a UV filter - either Nikon or B+W.
The 105 has a rather large hood that helps to protect the lens element. But on occasion I have bumped the front of the hood against pollen covered blossoms, so a protective filter is not a bad idea. With the 105 I still use extension tubes occasionally so I get into situations that involve very close focus distances.
I also occasionally use a circular polarizer on my 105. I photograph a lot of water droplets and having the ability to manage the reflection is very useful. And of course, in the dual role of a portrait lens, a CP can be useful.
The last time I bought a new lens over the counter, I was on holiday and had received the mother of all tax rebates. I treated myself to a Sigma 10-20mm f4-5.6 wide zoom and a UV filter. At no time did the dealer tell me the filter was unnecessary.
My cheap, protective filter saved one of my lenses from getting a nasty, deep gash in it yesterday, when I got in a hurry. I've taken shots and compared with and without a filter, and cannot find any difference. I'll keep the filters on, as I am my own worst enemy.....
Thank you everyone for your comments and feedback. As usual, very informative to hear several viewpoints on a subject.
I think on reflection of the posts I am still going to add a $40 clear filter to my $900 lens. Taking into account the wisdom of the posts I just feel for me its the right thing to do. Again, thank you all for your input.