Guest Host on This Week in Photography

twip_logoThis week I was honored to be a special guest host on the This Week in Photography podcast with Frederick Van Johnson, former Edmonton Journal photographer Steve Simon, and Ron Brinkmann. For those not familiar with TWiP, it’s a weekly podcast that features discussions on the latest photography news, interviews with a variety of photographers, listener questions, tips, tricks, picks and jocularity.

Last year I signed on to do the show notes along with Tom Newman who hosts his own podcast called the FogView Podcast. Each week, Tom and I take turns transcribing the contents of the show and posting the notes on Each show is approximately 1 hr 1.5 hrs in length and features a regular cast of characters. I also do the show notes for Scott Bourne’s PhotoFocus podcast which comes out on the 5th, 15th and 25th of each month. The Photofocus podcast is dedicated to answering listener questions about photography. I have learned so much from listening to theses podcasts and picked up some great tips which I’ve incorporated into my own work. I highly encourage other photographers to subscribe to these podcasts and check out their companion websites for tons of great information.

On this week’s show, a listener question got us into a discussion regarding U/V filters and whether there is any point in having them on your lens.  I do have protective filters for most of my lenses however I don’t use them all the time. There are some who argue that it doesn’t make any sense to put a $100 filter in front of a $2000 piece of glass as it will degrade the image quality particularly in certain lighting conditions where you may get flair if light is entering from the side of your lens.  If I am indoors or shooting under relatively controlled conditions where I’m not concerned about something damaging the front of my lens element, I have typically removed the filter to avoid any chance of degrading the quality of my images. I tend to use my lens hood at all times which I find provides me with adequate protection. If I’m headed outdoors or into a situation where there might be a chance of something striking the front element of my lens, then I typically will put the filters back on. One thing I forgot to mention on the podcast is that the one filter that I use frequently when shooting landscapes is a circular polarizing filter. These filters can help cut down reflections on things like water, ice, etc. They also help to increase the contrast in a scene however you will lose a stop to two stops with most polarizing filters. The circular polarizing filter is also the one filter in your bag that you can’t replicate using something like Photoshop as it actually changes the quality of light before it hits your lens. For a more technical description, Wikipedia has an article on filters which explains how a polarizing filter works in more detail. If you are going to invest in any filters, this should be the one you have in your bag for sure. In terms of brand, I like to use the B+W filters which you can buy from most photography stores or order online from B+H Photo.

What’s your take on filters? Do you use them? Have you noticed a difference in image quality when you use them? Feel free to leave comments on the topic below.

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  • Tom W

    I use UV filters to protect my lenses, as I don’t see my image quality being affected. I also use a polarizing filter and have a set of Lee ND Grad filters.

    On TWIP you commented that you sometimes take photos with the 40D to make use of the crop factor. Wouldn’t you get better results if you took the photo with the 5D MkII though, and then cropped the image?

    A 40D is 10MP. A 5D is 21MP, and so if you crop the image to the middle ~63% (to get the equivalent of the 1.6x crop sensor on the 40D), you will still get a 13MP image – 3MP more than from the 40D.

    You will also get the benefits of the bigger pixels – reduced noise, increased dynamic range etc.

  • Bruce

    Great points Tom and cropping is definitely an option however I prefer to get it framed up in camera rather than relying on cropping. You also lose a few stops when you use a teleconverter so it can depend on the lighting conditions. I shoot a lot of events in less than ideal lighting conditions so I find I don’t use it all that often. Thanks for listening to the show!

  • Hey Bruce, Good to hear you on TWIP – congrats 😉 Nice episode. Keep up the good work.

  • Robert G

    Today’s lenses are marvels of engineering and designed to perform their best as is…there is nothing in the design process to allow for another air to glass surface.

    That being said, there are conditions (BC rains, prairie dust storms, etc.) where I do add a UV filter.

    When these filter break, it is usually from straight on impact and that generally drives the broken filter right into the front element of the lens. Lens coatings are tough but glass to glass will frequently leave some sort of signature.

    Circular polarizer is a must have.

    Best form of general lens element protection…lens hood.

    Good shooting…