Stumbling upon a recent article reminded me that this is a question I wanted to ask here on Fstoppers. In my expertise and knowledge there is an absolute need for filters in certain industries of photography and if you're attempting a certain look. For instance a few friends of mine that also work for my wedding photography company do some off road coverage, for them I'd say it's pretty crucial to have a filter on their lenses to protect as much as possible as high speed off road vehicles and dirtbikes fly past them with the potential of tossing a few hundred rocks their way daily.
This is a no brainer, and when I asked my friend Brandon Bunch, professional photographer and videographer in the off road scene, what his specific use is for his filters he said, "I use them for protection against dust and the possibility of actually getting roost and hit." Brandon currently uses B+W XS-Pro UV Haze filters.
Enjoying Your Time Behind The Camera
However there is a whole other way of looking at it. It becomes more than protection or a specific look your trying to achieve. I believe in this video by Anthony Thurston he says it best. By using certain filters he's getting the result he wants in camera, and more importantly he is enjoying his actual shooting time when in nature vs. spending that or more time on a computer screen getting the effect digitally. For him it's more about a desired look than protection.
To Filter or Not To Filter
I've read, heard, and experienced both sides of the "to filter or not to filter" argument, and I'd love to hear what other photographers have experienced. A few years back I did an advanced lighting course with an amazing photographer and good friend of mine David Mecey. One of the other instructors told me my filters where ruining my images, stating the glass is far inferior then that of the lens itself, and made me remove them all and basically scarred me for life! Thank you Guido Karp, I'll never forget that moment! Immediately I dodged all my filters and vowed to never put them back on. I'd also imagine in the world of shooting garments for example, you don't want a filter to run the risk of changing the texture of a garment you are shooting for a client.
This made me curious, why would someone feel so strongly about not using filters, so I asked David and here is what he said:
Okay, I’ve been shooting photographs for about a hundred years or more. So I’ve put in a LOT of hours reading, experimenting, and doing jobs both in film and nowadays only digital. Back in film days we would all put a filter called an UV/Haze over our glass. The only time I’d recommend a filter over your lens is if you’re a sports photographer and you’re shooting car racing, bike racing, or any sport where rocks, pieces of rubber, tree branches or such might be kicked up into your lens. Otherwise, you don’t need a filter over the glass. And although older lenses "do" work with digital cameras, those newer cameras may just be too technologically forward for those older lenses to get the most out of your subjects, with, or without an UV/Haze filter over the front!
David is a Mentor of mine so to get all this info from him really made my day. You can check out his work here on his website. So for the photographers out there that primarily work in studio or perhaps even weddings and portraits, do you use filters?
Does it fit your style of photography?
I completely understand if you're drawn to the look of a polarizing filter, so that's a whole other issue. Do you use filters for the look, the effect, or for safety? Enlighten us folks, share your filter wisdom.
Images used with permission of Brandon Bunch and David Mecey