There is an article on PetaPixel about how much of a difference there is between a cheap UV filter and a more expensive UV filter. Reddit user EvilDoesIt shot this comparison between a $20 UV filter and a $70 B+W Clear UV Haze with MRC (Multi-Resistant Coating) filter.

UV Filter Comparison by  EvilDoesIt
UV Filter Comparison by EvilDoesIt

There is a noticeable difference in contrast and clarity between the top image that was taken with the $20 UV filter and the bottom image that was taken with the B+W UV filter.

Hood or UV filter
The thing is, though, UV filters are not essential with digital sensors. Sure, back in the film days, a UV filter can be important for film because some films are more sensitive to UV rays, which may result in haziness. But the digital sensors of today do not have that problem. If anything, a UV filter is adding another glass on top of your lens, and your lens, whether it’s $200 or $2,000, was specifically engineered to perform at its best without another glass in front of it.

Filters are pushed at stores because they carry huge markups for retailers, unlike lenses. They are the Monster Cable of photography.

A UV filter may add a level of superficial protection against fingerprints or blowing sand, but it does not protect your lens’ front element in the case of a dropped lens. The glass on a filter is actually not that hard to break, so if you drop your lens with a filter on, there is a chance that the broken glass can scratch your front element. The front element is stronger, though, and can take a more of a beating in the case of a bump or a fall compared to a filter.

The better option in protecting your lens, however, is a lens hood. Not only does it not degrade your image quality, but it also protects from bumps and helps control flare. Moreover, in the event that a hood gets cracked, it is unlikely to scratch your front element.

I have bought B+W filters for the majority of my lenses, but have since opted for hoods for daily use. It is only during a beach shoot where flying sand can scratch the front element, that I would use a UV filter. And if you do use a filter, don’t skimp on it. No sense spending $20 on a cheapo UV filter to protect your $2,000 lens.

So readers, do you tend to use filters, hoods, both or neither for your lenses?