I wasn't going to weigh in on this subject, but you all know I can't keep my
mouth shut for long.
Filters are a tool. You use them when there's a reason. Using a filter is a
tradeoff between the degradation that is inevitable when another piece of
glass and its air-glass interface is introduced, and whatever benefit can be
derived from the filter's use. I own a lot of filters, approximately 70 in a
total of 10 sizes. Some I have used but once or twice, others a lot, but
never, never, never unless absolutely necessary.
At the bottom of the list are the so-called protective filters. I don't own
a one, since these are relatively recent, and the UV and 1A filters will
serve the same purpose. These are used when shooting potentially damaging
subjects or under difficult circumstances. This includes everything from
shooting welders (ever get particles of hot metal on the front element of a
Hasselblad 40mm?), to carrying cameras on busy urban streets.
Other filters that are used frequently are the 1A or 81's, when shooting in
nearby Colorado at altitudes of 7,000 to 11,000 feet. I use a polarizer for
its unique abilities, and a split ND for landscapes (never use a polarizer
for landscapes with lenses wider than about 35mm, or the effect will be
uneven across the skyline). With black and white, I frequently use a K2
yellow, or R25/29, for the dramatic skies. Sometimes, a correction filter is
needed for fluorescent lights, or 80's and 85's for correcting emulsions to
Otherwise, I never, never, never add more glass to the mix. Remember, lens
designers work overtime to construct a lens with the fewest number of
elements not just to save glass.
And, never, never, never shoot welders without a filter!
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