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Filter Care & Use

So you’re using a filter on your lens, maybe to protect it from dust or finger smears or maybe for an effect that you want, what can you do to ensure that it does not degrade the quality of your expensive lens? Here are some pointers:

What to do with filters:

  1. Buy a good filter. A bad filter can do more harm than you expect.
  2. Never touch the glass of the filter. The oil from your skin will rub off on the filter and could damage its coating. Some filters are noted to retain fingerprints if not cleaned up immediately. Always touch a filter by the edges.
  3. Store filters in their boxes. This ensures that dust and fingerprints stay away. If you buy a filter case or pouch, don’t buy a cheap one that will degrade over time and leave a residue on the filter surface.
  4. Clean it like you would clean your lens. Use a lens cleaning kit or a blower brush. Keep it clear of sand, dust and sea spray.
  5. Keep a UV filter on at all times, especially if you’re likely to be visiting the beach or are in a sandy/humid location.

What NOT to do with filters:

  1. Don’t press the filter when screwing it on or unscrewing it. The filter mount is usually made of thin Aluminium and will warp if you press it or tighten it too much. This makes it difficult to remove and could spoil your lens’ filter mounting thread.
  2. Don’t use your camera like it’s all fine now that you have a protective UV filter on it. It’s still the same lens, you’re only protecting the first element from dust and direct scratches. You still have to be careful with it.
  3. Don’t point your camera into direct sunlight or harsh lights. The filter’s anti-reflective coat (if it has one) is not as good as the lens’ coating and it will usually create a spot of lens flare.
  4. Don’t forget to clean the filter regularly.
  5. Don’t forget that you have a filter on. If you think that you’re going to get a group of unforgettable images and you have a great lens on your camera, take the filter off – capture the image in all its glory.

Do you have more tips for working with filters?

If you’ve got any more thoughts on how you can take care of your filters and how to get the best quality image out of a filter, do leave a comment.

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Published: August 23, 2010 | Last Updated: July 21, 2021

6 thoughts on “Filter Care & Use”

  1. Some great pointers for filters!

    I definitely think many people don’t consider DO point #1 – and will put a cheap’n’nasty filter on the front of an expensive lens!

    One thing to add about DON’T point #5 – it’s particularly important to remove a filter if you’re doing night-time photography, else you’ll get glare and reflections from all the lights in the photo.

  2. Filter is another grey area to me…i rarely use one except the uv filter….reason being I don’t knwo how to use it in most of the cases… this write up will greatly help in starting the use of filter….thanks…

  3. I like this article a lot. Filters are great for getting good quality images on almost any camera. I speak about it at my site and other photography tips. I really did find this informative.

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