Why Not To Use a UV Filter for Interior Photography


There are two schools of thoughts when it comes to using UV filters on your lens and I’ve gone back and forth between the two. The first school of thought says you should use a UV filter to protect your lens. You paid a lot of money for it, wouldn’t it be a shame if something poked or shattered the glass? It’s better to lose a $30 filter than a $1000 lens.

The second school of thought asks why put a cheap piece of glass in front of an expensive one? What are the chances of something hitting the front part of your lens anyway? If you’re careful and use a lens hood chances are, you’ll be OK.

I used to belong to the first camp. Then I moved to the second camp with the belief that any filter is a tool which should only be used when needed.

Recently, I noticed some spots on my lens that I could not wipe off. I think it may be areas where the coating has rubbed off. Alarmed, I decided to put the UV filter on and leave it on to protect the lens. Silly me. Take a look at this picture and notice the area above the painting on the wall.

Game Room

You see those yellow spots? That’s ghosting or flare from the overhead light. Different light sources are hitting the glass of the filter which bounce off before reaching the lens and sensor. Here’s a closer look with the flare spots circled in red. The other two spots are not that noticeable until you zoom in.

Flare Zoom

I had heard that UV filters can cause that effect in low light situations. In fact, I experienced it once shooting a night-time parade; it was awful. That is another reason why I moved to the no-filter camp. But as I mentioned, I foolishly defected for a short period.

Just to confirm my thoughts, I removed the filter and took another shot…

Game Room

Is that Photoshop at work? Did I clone it out? Nope. The second shot is just taken without the UV filter. (It’s much easier and faster to get it right in camera than to spend time in post.) Interiors are dark enough and the long exposure times means light has more time to refract from the filter.

Look, you don’t walk around with a hammer or a screwdriver in your pocket all day. When you need a tool, you get it, use it and put it back. That’s how I feel about filters. You don’t leave a polarizing or neutral density filter on your lens all the time. So why leave a UV filter on? Filters are tools to accomplish specific tasks. If you are shooting in hazy conditions or bright sun, sure, why not break out the UV filter? Otherwise, why give up image quality for the perception of increased protection? Ask yourself, in all the time I’ve owed my lens, how many filters have been smashed? If the answer is zero, you can do without it.

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The Camera Lens Alphabet


Nikon Lens Acronyms

Image: notesonphotography.com

So last week I posted a link to an article on my Facebook page about the acronyms manufacturers use for their camera lenses. It did a pretty good job, but I want to take it one step further for Nikon shooters. In my opinion, there are a WHOLE LOT more letters Nikonians have to decipher. In fact, there’s an entire GLOSSARY on the Nikon site to help you break it down. Did you know, for example, that your lens might be gelded? Yikes!

So check it out for yourself and the next time you get pulled over for DUI and the officer asks you to recite the alphabet backwards, just start with “VR”. 😉

Canon and Nikon News Round-Up


Nikon D90

I haven’t done a “Photography News Round-Up” in a while; mostly because I usually post items of interest on my Facebook page which then gets posted on Twitter. So if you are already following me there, the following items won’t be news to you. For everyone else, I wanted to get you up to speed on some things you might have missed last week.

First up: from Nikon Rumors, the Nikon D90 is now officially on the “discontinued” list. It was replaced by the D7000 last year.

In other Nikon news: a guest post on Nikon Rumors last week tested the sharpness of 16 different lensesThere’s a slideshow gallery and you can view the larger images on Flickr. Canon 50mm 1.8 Lens

Over on the Canon Rumors site, there’s word that there may be updates to both the 1.4 and 1.8 versions of the 50mm lens.

You probably read in a previous post about price increases for camera lenses and bodies most likely due to supply disruptions in Japan. Well, if it’s any consolation, Canon Rumors is also reporting that 3 lenses are part of Canon’s spring rebate program. They are:

  • EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 ($150 rebate)
  • EF 75-300mm f/4.5.6 ($50 rebate)
  • EF-S 55-200mm f/4-5.6 ($100 rebate)

Not exciting enough? Well there are also reports that Best Buy has started a price war on many Nikon and Canon lenses and bodies. I checked the prices against Amazon, and if they are true, then they really look like good deals. The 5D MKII, for example, is listed at $2124 with in-store pick-up only. But when I checked on the Best Buy site for stores in the Orlando area, not only was the price around $2800, but they were out of stock. If you’re interested, click the link and check it out for yourself. Let me know if you have any luck. Happy hunting!

Choosing the Perfect Camera and Lens


Snapsort.com Homepage

One question I get asked a lot is “which DSLR should I get”. Whether it’s a first purchase or an upgrade, the answer usually depends on what type of shooting you want to do and your budget.

About a year ago, I found a Web site that makes it easier to find what you’re looking for.  At Snapsort.com, you can learn about cameras, explore different types or just type in your budget and kind of camera you’re looking for; whether it’s a DSLR or point-and-shoot. But the tool I like and use the most is the compare feature.

[Disclaimer: Snapsort is holding a contest for anyone who blogs about the site, but that is not why I am writing this. I’ve known about the site for a while and I refer people there often. I just referred someone there a couple of days ago, so I thought I should let other people know]

What I like about the compare feature is being able to compare the specs of two cameras side-by-side. The site used to declare a “winner” which I disagreed with. Now it just gives each camera a score and gives a recommendation. I even take this with a grain of salt. You see, the “winner” or recommendation is based on specs; but your needs may be different. Compare, for example the Canon 5D MKII with the 1D MK IV. The 5D is full frame but shoots just under 4 frames per second. Where the MK IV has an APS-H sensor and shoots 10 frames per second. Which is better? It depends on what you shoot. A sports shooter would love the MK IV where a landscape photographer would choose the 5D. Still, being able to see the specs side-by-side for yourself is a quick and convenient way to decide. The cameras are evaluated on things like resolution, ISO, viewfinder coverage, LCD resolution, video capabilities and more.

Snapsort.com Compare

Nikon and Canon’s Web sites let you compare its models; but the Snapsort site lets you compare any make with another. So you can compare Nikons with Canons or Sony’s etc. Apples and Apples or Apples and Oranges. Pretty handy if you’re trying to decide which brand to go with.

The comparison gives you reasons to consider each camera and gives you a list of competitors to consider.

To find the right lens, use the tools at LensHero. Simply input your camera, budget and what type of lens you’re looking for and it spits out recommendations complete with specs, prices and reviews.

LensHero.com

So if you’re struggling with choosing the right camera or looking to purchase that next lens, these two stops will make researching a lot easier and help you make the right choice.

Deals on Canon Refurb Cameras and Lenses


Canon Direct Store

If you’re looking to save some money on Canon cameras and lenses, the company is offering a “friends and family” deal of 10% off refurbished items in its online store.

I have no idea what quality “refurbished” would be, but I imagine it would meet Canon’s quality standards; and hey, you can save even more with the discount.

Use code “FAM211“. Offer is good through March 14 or while supplies last and looking through the list, some items are already gone.

Refurbished Powershots

Refurbished DSLRs

Refurbished Lenses and Speedlites

Nikon Lens Simulator and Lens Map


If you’re a Nikon shooter wondering which lens is best for you, the Nikon site has some cool interactive tools to help you decide.

The lens simulator lets you see the angle of view of different lenses. You can select whether you’re using a DX or FX body or lens. You can even select from a list of lenses to view the attributes of that specific lens.

 (Useless sidenote: As you use the slider to zoom in, you’ll see a woman reading a book. If you zoom slow enough, you’ll see different frames as she flips through the book. Hey, I told you it was a useless sidenote!)

Then there’s the Lens Positioning Map.  This tool shows you a line-up of Nikkor lenses arranged by focal length and f-stop. Again, you can select DX or FX, manual or auto focus and even features such as vibration reduction (VR) and types of lens coatings.

4-in-1 Lens Gives You Lo-Fi Photographs


If you’re a fan of lo-fi images produced by plastic or pinhole camera, you don’t have to carry around multiple cameras or lenses. The “Subjective” lens give you four shooting modes in one lens and is compatible with Nikon and Canon.

The four modes are: Pinhole, Plastic, Zone Plate and Glass and produce images like these:

All lenses have a 65mm focal length. The lens is available at the Photojojo store for $249, but you can get 10% off, courtesy The Digital Photography School if you use the code: photojojodps.