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Thread: Is a UV filter for protection heresy for Leica lenses?

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    Is a UV filter for protection heresy for Leica lenses?

    I appreciate all the help I've been getting here; thanks for your patience in leading me out of the wilderness and into the promised land. I have another question to present.

    I have always used high quality clear or UV filters on my Canon and Sony lenses for protection. I've read all the debates, and understand that many think it's foolish to add one more glass element between subject and sensor.

    On the one hand, these are some of the finest lenses on earth and it's a shame to do anything that could cause image degradation. On the other hand, these are some of the most expensive lenses on earth, and I would have apoplexy if I damaged a front element.

    Do you use clear filters to protect the lens?

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    Re: Is a UV filter for protection heresy for Leica lenses?

    Tom,
    You need to use UV/IR filters on your lenses on the M8. The M9 does not require the UV/IR filters. A UV filter would be an option on an M9.
    Make sure that the menu item "lens detection" is set for on+UV/IR (I believe that your 35 cron is coded). If you don't have a UV/IR filter yet, set "lens detection" to off. You will then need to use software in post to correct the IR contamination. There are tons of threads on LUF talking about the IR situation and the M8.

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    Re: Is a UV filter for protection heresy for Leica lenses?

    I did know that about the IR filters. I'm even waiting for my filter to arrive in the mail. I must be planning for my M9 already. So, even though I'm a bit premature to worry, do you use clear filters?

    Edit in response to Cindy's post below: I thought you had the M9, Cindy.
    Last edited by tom in mpls; 17th December 2009 at 19:46.

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    Re: Is a UV filter for protection heresy for Leica lenses?

    When I put my lenses on my M4-P, I do not use filters...but I'm very careful. Hopefully, some M9 users will chime in.

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    Senior Member Ario Arioldi's Avatar
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    Re: Is a UV filter for protection heresy for Leica lenses?

    To protect the lenses from scratch I prefer to use the hoods which are useful in any case and do not degrade the image.
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    Ario

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    Re: Is a UV filter for protection heresy for Leica lenses?

    I use protection filters quite often but not always. UV-IR cut filters for the M8 and clear glass protection filters for the M9. Considering that some Leica lenses will cost $6,495 or more in the new year I'm using protection filters more and more. B+W make a range of clear glass MRC coated filters which have thinner glass than standard UVa filters and are very high quality. They're also available in series 8 & 7 for the 21 and 24mm Summiluxes.

    If I'm shooting subjects that contain bright light sources or night time pictures with lights in the frame then I'll remove the clear protection filter, otherwise I leave it on.

    I obtain my filters from Foto Huppert in germany. They do speak english so there's no problem ordering. If the page appears in german, use google tool bar or google translation services.

    Bob.
    Last edited by Bob Parsons; 18th December 2009 at 03:46.

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    Workshop Member glenerrolrd's Avatar
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    Re: Is a UV filter for protection heresy for Leica lenses?

    I am doing the same thing as Bob. The argument has been going on for years....adding an addition surface to air element theoretically hinders image quality. Yet I have never seen any test that shows by how much. Leica s official position used to be "don t use them unless you need them for protection"..like around the ocean.

    I ordered my first B+W MRC clear filter for my Noctilux .

    For now I am using a mixture of B+W and Leica UVA filters ..but the B+W clear seem to be the best technology out there. I have to use them I am in Florida.

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    Re: Is a UV filter for protection heresy for Leica lenses?

    I don't like using filters, but I also don't think they do that much to degrade image quality if you get a good one. As the others have said, if you are going to get a filter, try a B+W MRC. Filters definitely can hurt image quality in certain situations though -- if you are shooting into the light or in very high contrast situations (night with streetlights, exposed bulbs etc), they can cause flare or ghosting. In general, I don't think filters provide that much physical protection -- if something hits the front of your lens hard enough to do real damage, it is probably hard enough to break the filter -- which may even cause more damage than the original object would, since it will fragment into multiple sharp shards.
    They are very useful in certain situations, however -- for example, when you are going to be around sea spray, blowing dust or sand, or other environmentally difficult conditions.
    For 99% of the time though, I leave them at home. Good ones are expensive too...the last thing you need after paying so much for a lens is to pay more to decrease the overall performance (in the sense of less flare and reflection resistance).
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    Workshop Member glenerrolrd's Avatar
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    Re: Is a UV filter for protection heresy for Leica lenses?

    Up until the M8 I never used filters unless it was going to be very nasty out. However..since ever lens on the M8 required one..I got used to them. One thing I really like is getting inexpensive round metal hoods for the M lenses. This allowed me to work without caps. When I changed a lens..I would give the filter a quick dust off with a microfiber wipe. Never had to worry about scratching a front element. I also found that a metal hood(cheap less than $10) and the filter really protects the front of the lens.

    I shot enough at night to agree that flare can be an issue and still the Noctilux is not going out without a filter.

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    Re: Is a UV filter for protection heresy for Leica lenses?

    I HAVE A BEEN a working pro for 27 years. I use uv filters almost always. The only times I do not is when I am in avery controlled working situiation and I am the only photographer around. A lens is expensive a good filter saves it many times over.

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    Re: Is a UV filter for protection heresy for Leica lenses?

    This is the first time I've read a thread strongly in favor of filters to protect expensive glass. Glad to find I'm not alone in preferring to be cautious.

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    Re: Is a UV filter for protection heresy for Leica lenses?

    Rhetorical question: If it was heresy, why would Leica be selling Leica branded UV filters to put on their branded lenses?

    I put them on because a filter is cheaper than getting the front surface of a lens fixed. I suppose in the end it is about one's personal budget. For some people $5000 is chump change.

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    Re: Is a UV filter for protection heresy for Leica lenses?

    Because it makes them money, and customers ask for it. If they did not make them, people would just buy another brand's filters. I actually asked a Leica rep this question, and he said that they did not really like it -- he felt that the coatings were hard enough on the lenses, the UV protection is built into the coatings already, and that putting a filter in front of it degraded quality. He said they just had to sell them because so many customers have been so trained to think they are necessary, and of course the few situations where they are really helpful (corrosive spray, blowing sand etc). I am not going to say which rep this is, in case it will get him in trouble, but he did say this. I should also note that it was long before the M8, so maybe they changed their tune!
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    Re: Is a UV filter for protection heresy for Leica lenses?

    Filters are a value judgement. Judge the value of scratching the front element of a very expensive lens versus doing the same to a filter. Personally, for the last year I have only been using B+W UV/IR or UVa filters on Leica lenses - they're cheaper and they are just as good.

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    Re: Is a UV filter for protection heresy for Leica lenses?

    Just make sure you get filters with good multicoating, it would be a shame to mess up the lensmaker's carefully designed coating. B+W MRC is excellent. It's also a good idea to make sure the MC of the filter reflects a different wavelength than the internal lens reflections, so if you see a lot of red reflections in the lens then a greenish reflection in the filter means more dampening of internal reflections.

    Get Leica-branded filters if you worry about resell value. Filter optical quality really only matters with big tele glass, but it's of course nice with a well-made brass ring that doesn't get stuck like the cheaper aluminium rings. Like Roger I prefer deep metal hoods rather than lens caps.
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    Re: Is a UV filter for protection heresy for Leica lenses?

    I don't have a digital M, but I do use filters on the lenses I use with my film M's - lens hoods too, of course. I'm familiar with all the arguments, and I expect that there are some circumstances under which I would indeed be able to see a difference. But the way I actually use my Leicas is mostly for rough-and-tumble snapshooting, hand-held, mostly using fast negative film, often outdoors under less than ideal conditions. I find myself having to clean the front of my filters frequently. With the filters I'm more comfortable taking the camera out to do what I really want with it, which is the whole point of having it.

    When getting the utmost image technical quality is the overriding goal, I don't use 35mm anyway - I'll grab a medium or large format camera and a tripod.

    EDIT: I should add, if I had an M8, I'd use the UV/IR filters for sure. The IR response of the sensor means that it's a matter of picking your poison. There is no theoretically ideal capture available - you only get to choose which bothers you more, the image degradation caused by having additional glass surfaces or the effects of IR run amok.
    Last edited by Oren Grad; 20th December 2009 at 08:48.

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