Does Using a Cheap Filter Really Matter?

Does the quality of a filter really matter? Indeed, it does! If you are in the habit of using a UV or Skylight filter on your lens for protection, please be aware that a cheap filter will block at least 3 percent of the light and can cause other issues, such as lens flare and internal ghosting.

Single-coated filters are better than uncoated. Multi-coated filters are the best, but cost significantly more. However, why own an expensive Nikkor lens and then add a cheap superstore filter to the front of it, reducing sharpness, light transmission, and potentially causing various types of contrast-reducing flare.

If you are going to use a filter at all for protection—I don’t, I carry insurance instead—then be sure to use a multi-coated filter only. See the picture below for the difference in light transmission between an uncoated and a multi-coated filter.

MultiCoated vs Standard Filter

These two filters were lying on my kitchen tablet with an overhead light shining on them and a coin underneath so that you can see what happens when a cheap uncoated filter is used and light hits it, compared to a multi coated filter under the same light.

This fact even applies to a filter such as a circular polarizer. A multi-coated filter does not reflect as much light, leading to better pictures. Use a multi-coated filter for best results.

Keep on capturing time…
Darrell Young

Darrell Young

Darrell Young is an active member of the Nikonians User Community, Nikon Professional Services (NPS), Professional Photographers of America (PPA), North American Nature Photography Association (NANPA), and the author of 24 photography books from NikoniansPress and Picture and Pen Press, through Rocky Nook. You may review a few of Darrell’s Nikon books here. He has been an avid photographer since 1968 when his mother gave him a Brownie Hawkeye camera.

This website was created to support the readers of his educational books, photography students, and clients. Visitors to this website will find articles and reviews designed to inform, teach, and help you enjoy your photographic journey.

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