Debunking Common Photography Myths: Are There Any You Still Believe?

One of the things I love about the photography industry is that there's no shortage of myths and folklore. You'll probably hear a bunch of different myths and claims as you develop your career and I have to say it's a lot of fun. 

In a recent video from two of my favorite photographers and YouTubers, Tony and Chelsea Northrup; they discuss some of the many myths that photographers still believe. Most of the time the myths that we believe tend to be rooted in something real or something that was once true. For example, many photographers still use UV filters which is honestly beyond me. There's a very good chance that no lens has ever actually been protected from impact damage by any UV filter in the history of photography. Also if you shoot with a digital camera then UV filters offer virtually no improvement to your images. Personally, the myth that I believed for a long time was that you should never delete images in-camera. This is quite obviously not true and something we can ignore. 

Check out the full video linked above. Also, are there any particular myths that you used to believe? Are there any myths that even though you no longer believe, you still have trouble letting go of? 

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43 Comments

Absolutely!

You beat me to the punch.

Usman Dawood's picture

And what makes you so credible?

Deleted Account's picture

Another person's credibility or lack thereof is in no way an indicator of my own...

Usman Dawood's picture

It’s always easy to point fingers. Anyone can sit behind a keyboard and talk about how other people are such and such.

Deleted Account's picture

That does not make me incorrect.

Terry Waggoner's picture

"It’s always easy to point fingers. Anyone can sit behind a keyboard and talk about how other people are such and such"...........and some people do it in front of a video camera and post it on youtube...........

He isn't the one presenting pseudo scientific information, so his credibility is irrelevant.

michaeljin's picture

That's pretty harsh.

Thomas H's picture

Ah... Tony at it again. The "only" truth teller, The Discloser of Lies, Myths and Legends.

Regarding Usmans comment about UV filters, read this:
Many years ago I dropped the soft case with Canon 100-400 L IS in Papeete. Filter got bend, cracked and slid into the thread of the lens, which was made of a harder material, as it should be. When we returned to Honolulu I gave the lens to a shop, to remove the filter, what they did. Lens seemed fine, and I used it for several more years. With another "not-needed" UV filter of course. However once home, I sent it in to Canon for a checkup. They said: no damages, they merely did the std. maintenance, whatever that was.

They have put out too much BS. I don't watch their BS videos.

Since the ISO story my new maxim is, "If Chelsea & Tony say so, it means it must be wrong". They are far too approximate (they confuse diffuse light, soften light), which is not condemnable but there are already too many people who say crap on the net

Ansel Spear's picture

Really? This is all a load of spurious nonsense.. And they need a whopping 30 minutes to espouse these ridiculous non myths.

Click bait for ad revenue.

I never thought twice about deleting images from the camera until I had a one on one CPS training session and the instructor told me it was better not to. He said it was something to do with the image numbering, I don’t remember exactly how he described it. He said if you need room go ahead and delete but it’s always better to wait until you have downloaded to hard drive so that’s what I have done since.

I usually use a polarizer filter vs staight UV but occasionally I HAVE had a mishap that resulted in damage to the filter glass. To me that was always the primary reason for a UV filter anyway: lens protection! I mean, sacrifice a $75 filter over a $750 lens? Yeah, I think that makes sense.

Certainty never heard the "don't delete in camera thing" though. I almost always do a rough edit in camera in terms of obviously bad shots. In 15 years of various DSLR cameras it's never once been a problem. That said I do use Copy + Paste into my hard drive first once I'm home, and only do a full delete after I know it's all there on the drive.

michaeljin's picture

I don't keep a filter on my lens to protect it from impact. I keep it on to protect it from sand and other grit that blows in the wind. It's also a requirement to complete the weathersealing on certain lenses so there's that reason, too.

Ryan Cooper's picture

That's a fair point that only applies to an extremely tiny percent of photographers who are regularly shooting in aggressive conditions. (and the video does mention that situation)

Re: filters protecting lenses-I have had more than one lens (a Nikon 70-200mm 2.8 was saved twice!) by a UV filter-both from impact and from blowing sand, and in one case, sticky and gooey filling from a cherry pie...so I think I will keep them screwed on the front of my lenses.

Usman Dawood's picture

UV filter manufacturers explicitly state that their filters are not designed to protect against impact damage.

That thin piece of glass protected against nothing and the impact which wouldn’t have damaged your lens broke your filter making you think your lens was protected.

Usman Dawood's picture

That’s not impact damage though is it?

Ryan Cooper's picture

(Also, to be fair, you have to clean your front element just like everyone else, you are just making a UV filter your front element. It doesn't make cleaning any easier or harder)

michaeljin's picture

I can screw off a particularly dirty filter and just clean it with running water under the sink so I would argue that it does make cleaning a lot easier in some instances.

Ryan Cooper's picture

To each his or her own, but I wouldn't use tap water to clean lenses. There is a reason products like rinse aid exists for dishwashers. It is because tap water often leaves streaks or fogging on glassware. It won't ruin a lens or anything but it can often mean re-cleaning with a better cleaning solution. (which defeats the whole purpose)

For me, 99% of lens cleaning happens in the field and I can get it done perfectly in less than a minute using a lens pen, microfibre cloth, and some sort of blower or brush. It is trivially easy and quick.

michaeljin's picture

I don't use tap water to clean lenses. I use it to clean protection filters (along with dish soap) if they get really dirty for some reason. I've yet to run into any issues and even if I did, I wouldn't care because it's not a lens—it's a filter. The whole benefit of having the filter is that you rarely ever have to touch the actual glass on the lens itself and it's disposable.

People say all sorts of stuff about how hard the glass of the front optic is and how durable coatings are, but any piece of glass that you're exposing to the elements will eventually get scratched and any piece of glass that you're repeatedly cleaning will eventually start to get cleaning marks.

It's not the biggest deal in the world if you plan to keep the lens forever since scratches on the front element really don't affect the image quality much (if they even do so at all), but if you occasionally sell your gear, a filter is a good idea simply because buyers freak the hell out about any little scratch, swirl, or fingerprint on the front element (even though there's no reason to) and it dings the value of your lens more than anything short of fungus and haze. :/

Ryan Cooper's picture

The way I see it is. I have never had a lens show any signs of what you describe even though I have run many of them without protection, on location, for years. I have shot in harsh winter, beaches, forests, mountains, abandoned building, etc. They are cleaned regularly with high-quality cleaning materials and never experience any sort of scratching from cleaning. In fact, the few lenses I have actually worn out were all internal wear, the glass was still perfectly fine when I retired them. Anecdotal, yes, but I feel pretty confident that this will continue to be the case. (and I don't treat my lenses terribly well. They are often just tossed around, thrown back in bags without lens caps, etc.)

If I spent $75-100 on a UV filter for every lens I ever own, we would be talking thousands of dollars over my career thus far. (aka enough to replace a lens on the very low chance that I experience damage that a UV filter might (probably wouldn't) protect against. Not to say that is true for everyone, but I'm still pretty confident that if we could somehow measure the value of UV filters sold globally and compare it to the repair costs they "actually" have prevented that we would be looking at the cost of those filters being magnitudes higher. (Yes, I know it is impossible to actually measure this)

I totally understand and agree with the logic behind using UV if you are a war photographer in the middle east and your gear is constantly subject to being sandblasted in severe condition. Or if you are a landscape photographer who regularly is working in extreme weather or are around saltwater spray. But for the vast majority of photographers who are shooting family, portraiture, travel, events, etc are simply not in a situation where a UV filter does anything but lighten their wallet. (and perhaps harm IQ depending on the situation and the quality of the UV filter)

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