PetaPixel

Experimenting with Stacks of UV Filters

One of the benefits of running a gear rental business is that you have a ton of equipment you can use for random experiments. That’s exactly what Roger Cicala, the owner of LensRentals, did with the UV filters he had on hand. One-upping the 19 filter stack we shared a while back, he mounted 50 different UV filters to a Canon 5D Mark II and 300 f/4 lens to see what the resulting images would look like.

The photo on top is an image taken without filters, while the one of the bottom uses the 50 filter stack:

Obviously no one uses stacks of filters in this way, but it does illustrate an important truth: while UV filters protect your lens, they also degrade your image quality (even if it’s ever so slightly).

So is there a difference in quality between expensive, “pro” filters and cheaper ones? To test this, Cicala stacked 5 high-quality UV filters and 5 cheap UV filters. Here are the no-filter, good-filter, bad-filter photos, respectively:

As you can see, it’s definitely worthwhile to purchase a high-end UV filter for protecting your lens if you care about image quality. You can read more about Ciala’s filter tests here.

Good Times with Bad Filters [LensRentals]


Image credits: Photographs by Roger Cicala/LensRentals and used with permission


 
 
  • Torn_faith

    the folks at borrowlenses did this first http://i.imgur.com/WKxyY.jpg

  • Torn_faith

    the folks at borrowlenses did this first http://i.imgur.com/WKxyY.jpg

  • Felipe

    Yah, it’s mentioned in the article…

  • http://www.facebook.com/bradtrent Brad Trent

    “…but it does illustrate an important truth: while UV filters protect your lens, they also degrade your image quality…..”

    Seriously?!! You guys must have a lotta time on your hands if this is what makes up your day. Any first-year photo student knows that filters will degrade image quality. Is there any practical knowledge I can glean from your little experiment? No, ‘cuz unless I want my image to look like it was shot through a Softar, I’m not stupid enough to stack more than two filters at a time, let alone 5…or 50. Why not next time see if shooting through a solid-core wooden door has any effect on your image quality….now THAT would really get my juices flowing!

  • http://www.facebook.com/bradtrent Brad Trent

    “…but it does illustrate an important truth: while UV filters protect your lens, they also degrade your image quality…..”

    Seriously?!! You guys must have a lotta time on your hands if this is what makes up your day. Any first-year photo student knows that filters will degrade image quality. Is there any practical knowledge I can glean from your little experiment? No, ‘cuz unless I want my image to look like it was shot through a Softar, I’m not stupid enough to stack more than two filters at a time, let alone 5…or 50. Why not next time see if shooting through a solid-core wooden door has any effect on your image quality….now THAT would really get my juices flowing!

  • Concerned Guest

    Wow bunch of pissy little girls up in here…

  • Dannynoonan82

    no shit, sherlock

  • Dlydon89

    lol, someones a little upset with the article…

  • Wondering

    Does anyone have a method to self-test filters other than comparing images shot with and without the filter?  Any good test targets?

  • Snarlton

    Better give Brad Trent a blog-reading refund.

  • Ilker

    This is not the website intended to get your juices flowing. If you’re not happy, start your own blog and publish the articles on whatever it is that makes up your day.

  • Adams

    Hilarious response Brad, totally agree with you, ignore the other sheep who feel obligated to agree with any crap they read. This was an “experiment” in the painfully obvious.

  • Wes
  • Snarlton

    … which hurt no one and wasn’t mandatory reading for either of you.

  • Kleitman2

    Re: 5 expensive filters vs 5 cheap filters.  If they had to use 5 filters to illustrate the effect then I am not concearned should I use only one.

    I don’t care what anyone says, when it comes to filters the versatility of 3rd party filter simulators used thru photoshop trumps any physical filter aside from UV. Why would I want to limit my options later by using a specific filter when taking the original photo?

  • Hellp

    Image sharpness loss with cheap VS expensive filter – negligible enough not to care. Level of ghosting when shooting into bright lights with cheap vs expensive – well worth the extra dollars.
      It’s not always about sharpness

  • Ellis H

    If I stack 5 Brad Trents on one another, will it constitute a worthwhile blog comment?

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  • http://www.facebook.com/jpvillaverde Juan Pablo Villaverde

    ANY kind of glass stack will degrade the image, this ‘experiment’ is pointless.
    Blog reading refund for me too.

  • WEK

    Uh, what a demonstration!! Why not attach 100 of the best L lenses of Canon one in front of another? Your conclussion would be that those L lenses affect the image…
    The question about protective filters is not how they affect the image when you attach 100, but just ONE filter.