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Sigma's New WR Ceramic Protector Might Actually Protect Your Front Element

Landscape photographers use polarizing, neutral density, and graduated filters of all types for effects they would consider pivotal to their work. Meanwhile, however, the Internet has been beating up UV and other clear types of filters, bringing to light that "UV filters protect your lens" is a falsehood. While even the best UV filters might shatter in an impact, Sigma has developed a brand new filter type called the "WR Ceramic Protector," which is actually supposed to absorb, bend with, and mitigate shock from an impact.

Ceramic is a type of crystallized glass that, in this case, is clear and incredibly strong. Its secret is that it can flex or bend further than typical glass can without breaking in order to actually absorb an impact. Sigma claims its formula provides a 10x increase in strength over traditional glass filters and a 300 percent increase over chemically strengthened glass.

While sapphire glass is popular for use on gadget screens and watch covers because of its extremely high resistance to scratching, its rigidity means it breaks much more easily than other types of chemically strengthened glass. But the ceramic glass used in Sigma's latest release promises to provide the perfect balance of scratch and impact resistance in a package 50 percent thinner and 30 percent lighter than previous Sigma filters.

In addition, the "WR" in the product name indicates weather resistance, thanks to a coating on the front of the filter that repels water, dirt, and oil at a cost of only 0.24 percent of light transmittance. For once, this might be the "real" UV filter we've all been promised in the past.

Sigma's WR Ceramic Protector will come in a wide variety of standard filter sizes from 67mm to 105mm, but pricing and availability is not yet available.

Update

Thanks to Patrick Schmitz to pointing us to a different announcement in German that lists prices of €99 to over €300 for the 105mm filter. So it does get pricey. We can usually expect slightly lower figures in USD for this market.

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12 Comments

Patrick Schmitz's picture

I don't know about the US prices, but the European prices are listed at the bottom of the original German announcement at https://www.sigma-foto.de/objektive/sigma-wr-ceramic-protector/

Quentin Decaillet's picture

I'm wondering if you get as much flare as with the traditional UV and ND filters.

Adam Ottke's picture

Hopefully there are other coatings to negate that. We won't know until we try it...but in my experience, you just can't add another piece of glass and expect anything different. There's gonna be some flare/ghosting. Hopefully not, though. You never know...

Fritz Asuro's picture

I've been using Sigma's UV+WR filter for quite a while. I am amazed to see the WR coating really works, gone the days that whenever I accidentally touch the front element, a smudge easily occurs.
I don't expect it to protect from shattering, so with this new filter, I'll see for myself once I get my hands on one.
In terms of sharpness, I am shooting with a D810 and some of the sharpest lenses offered by Nikon. I must say, it softens the image just a tiny bit but not to an extent where it really degrades the image dramatically. (Judging by what I see, no lab test stuff!)

*Before everyone bashes me for using a UV filter as a protector, I need to use it as I live in the Middle East, most of the time I shoot outdoors and in the desert, so having something to protect it from the abrassive gust of wind is a must.

Chris Adval's picture

I wonder the sharpness differences...That's what matter too, at least to myself and anyone whom is anti-any filter or even "walk around" filter like a UV. Sharpness is generally #1 most importance to most people I'd assume.

Lee Ramsden's picture

Wonder if there is a need for this, or will it be marketed towards new comers as the must have accessory to protect your lens like UV filters.

Adam Ottke's picture

I may be misunderstanding you for this response to make sense (so if I am, ignore this), but the only sapphire iPhones have is the cover glass for the camera on the back. Apple actually tried/considered switching to sapphire, but ran into production issues. Their hesitance to get into sapphire was also due to the fact that it does shatter so easily -- more easily than Corning's industry-standard Gorilla Glass, apparently. Many thought Apple would find a way to make stronger sapphire with their GT Technologies deal. So much for that.

But you do bring up an interesting point. Time will tell if other types of materials end up replacing traditional glass as iPhone screens. It's likely only a matter of time...

Lee Ramsden's picture

ah, appologise, i thought it was saphire glass used.
was thinking must be a marketers nightmare to use a glass, which everyone has in their pocket - broken.

It is interesting to see new comanpies using different tech. Even if this doesnt take off, might see the material in different applications.

Adam Ottke's picture

No worries. Keeping up with what type of glass/non-glass is used in each product these days is practically nightmarish. But yes, there's some really neat tech around the corner that could mark the end of broken screens...and the beginnings of completely new, awesome applications altogether.

To your point of the marketer's nightmare, it is ironic that the industry has created glass products (filters) that promise to protect other glass products (lenses). This, for once, at least seems like something a little better...maybe...

Lee Ramsden's picture

ha ha yeah fair one,
"your fragile expensive glass, protect it with this piece of fragile expensive glass"

I wonder in the real world though how many lens front elements are acctually broken.
There are applications i cant dispute, for one the guy above saying he shoots in sandy conditions, its a no brainer, but to protect a drop? the filter will always break, and id be more worried about the now shards of glass sctraching my lens than some dirt.

Adam Ottke's picture

You said it. The only real use for a UV filter as far as I'm concerned is in sandy/desert-like conditions.

Liam Doran's picture

Ive broken 3 UV filters in the last few years and use them often. In addition to sandy conditions they are great for winter photography too as snow/ice can also scratch a lens