How to Best Use a UV Filter in Outdoor Photography

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A UV filter is like sun protection for your lens; slip, slop, slap and shoot.

Words by Cecilia Ocean

UV light is present everywhere, but it gets stronger when shooting in higher altitude places, and when shooting near large bodies of water or snow.

UV light will manifest itself in shape of haze. When this happens, the UV filter cuts it down so the haze doesn’t take away the sharpness of the shot. At the same time, a UV filter will protect your lens from scratches and dust.

Shot with a Gobe 1 Peak UV filter.

So, here are some tips on how and when to use a UV filter:

1. It is important to be aware of the kind of glass that you put on your lens. Pick high-quality glass so you don’t lose any sharpness, or see the filter modifying the contrast or colour of your image.

2. Always keep it on your lens for protection, unless you want to stack two other types of filters, like an ND and a CPL. You can stack a UV filter with another filter, but we wouldn’t recommend stacking it with two others. As a general rule of thumb, the more layers you stack, the more it will affect image quality.

“If you shoot in humid places, a UV filter will prevent the humidity from getting into your lens.”

3. When you take off the filter, keep it in a safe place so when you put it back on your lens it is not scratched or dirty.

4. You can replace your lens caps with UV filters so you don’t miss THE shot because you were busy getting your camera ready. Always be ready.

5. If you shoot in humid places, such as tropical climates, or near waterfalls, the UV filter will prevent the humidity from getting into your lens.

6. You can also use anti-fog products, such as special cloths, that will keep your filter and lens from getting fog in them when shooting in humid places.

7. It will also prevent the sand, when shooting on the beach or on windy days, from getting into your lens and also from scratching the front element of your lens, so make sure you keep it on when you’re at the beach.

“Always keep something to clean your filters and lenses in your bag.”

8. Always keep something to clean your filters and lenses in your bag; whether it is a glass cleaning cloth and spray or an air blowing rocket.

9. Note that UV and skylight filters are not the same: UV filters are clear, and skylight filters have a slight tint to the glass.

10. Now you are ready to go out and shoot, go explore with your filters and get to know them so you can get the best results in each situation. Have fun!

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Cecilia Ocean