After spending hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars on your lenses, it’s sometimes hard to spend even another penny on anything that might be considered an unnecessary Ëœaccessory.’ Furthermore, with the whole host of easy-to-use software, you may think that getting saturated, vibrant images can wait until post production.

Purchasing a UV Haze Filter and Circular Polarizer will run you around $100 – $200 per lens depending on the diameter size of the lens, as well as the quality of the filters you purchase. While you can get decent UV Haze Filters for $20-$50, Circular Polarizers account for a bigger chunk of the cost pie being that they range from $75-$150 dollars each. However, both are quite necessary and here are the reasons why:

UV Haze Filters are designed to correct for UV effects and eliminate haze from your photos. Canon claims that their Canon 77mm UV Haze filter absorbs 71% of UV rays. However, I am sure you are all wondering if that even makes a difference in your pictures? The answer in this case is a subtle “yes.” While the difference in the pictures may not blow you away, UV haze filters definitely boost contrast a bit and help to eliminate some, not all, of the haze in your scenes.

While the UV haze filter may not make a huge difference in image quality, there is another more pervasive reason to have one on every lens. UV haze filters are cheap, and they do not affect your exposure at all. What does that mean? That means every one of your lenses should have a UV haze filter on at all times in order to protect the lens from scratches and even drops. We have read countless stories of photographers dropping their $1000+ lens and being saved by their cheap little UV haze filter that took the brunt of the impact. Not bad for a $20 accessory that simply screws onto your lens.

Circular Polarizers, such as the Canon PL-C 72mm Circular Polarizer, are designed to “enhance picture quality by blocking harmful reflected light. Use it to reduce polarized light reflections from glass and water surfaces or to improve color saturation. Simple to use, circular polarizing filters polarize light circularly, rather than linearly, so it does not interfere with autofocus or TTL light metering. Enough with the sales pitch though, let’s talk about what you all really care about, does it actually work?

Unlike the UV haze filter, having a circular polarizer makes a significant difference in overall color saturation and reflection reduction. In addition, it helps you to pull back a lot of color from a bright sky that would otherwise be blown out. It should be noted though that circular polarizers are tinted and do affect your exposure by around a full stop of light. Therefore, you only want to use them outdoors during the day.

Like most filters, both of these filters are threaded with male and female threads and can be used in conjunction as they can screw directly on top of each other.

As with any photography topic, there are the skeptics. Some argue that modern lenses are made of very strong glass; and if we use lens hoods and take proper care of our lenses, we would not need these filters for protective purposes. Furthermore, if you do get small scratches on your lens they will be almost impossible to notice, even at high apertures. While there is some truth to these facts, I would say that these filters are still very useful for protective filters because of the following reasons. First of all, after spending $1,700 on a lens, any risk of large, damaging scratches is already too much risk. Not to mention, lenses are front heavy. So if they get dropped, 9 times out of 10, they are coming down right on the glass. Having a filter can definitely improve your odds of walking away from a drop with a salvaged lens.

Secondly, even if small scratches don’t necessarily affect image quality, it would affect its resale value. Some also argue that lens filters cause something called “filter flare,  although we haven’t seen this phenomenon in any of our images.

In our experience, these filters have lived up to their product descriptions. Our lenses are scratch-free and there is a noticeable difference between our images taken with the filters on and those taken with the filters off. In the end, this ends up saving us quite a bit of time behind our computer developing our pictures, and more time shooting them.