Last updated: August 9, 2021

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Welcome to our big UV filter test 2021. Here we present all the UV filters we have tested in detail. We have compiled detailed background information and added a summary of customer reviews on the web.

We would like to make your purchase decision easier and help you find the best UV filter for you.

You will also find answers to frequently asked questions in our guide. If available, we also offer interesting test videos. Furthermore, you will find some important information on this page that you should pay attention to if you want to buy an ND filter UV filter.




Summary

  • UV filters are special attachable lens filters that block ultraviolet light in photography.
  • UV filters are therefore also called UV blocking filters and belong to the DSLR filters.
  • UV filters look colourless or have a very faint yellowish tint.

The Best UV Filter: Our Choices

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying a UV filter

What is a UV filter and what are its main functions?

The tasks of a UV filter can be divided into two areas. Firstly, a UV filter is a so-called correction filter for UV light, i.e. for light with a high proportion of ultraviolet radiation. At the same time, a UV filter improves distance vision, especially with analogue cameras, and avoids image errors, which are also called chromatic aberrations in professional circles. Camera lenses are designed for visible light.

With chromatic aberration, light of different colours does not flow together in one point as desired, which is why it is displayed out of focus. This in turn leads to the well-known blue cast and the blurring of the entire image. UV filters are supposed to counteract this.

The second and meanwhile most frequently used function of the UV filter is lens protection. The filter protects the front lens of the potentially very expensive lens from dirt and damage.

This is particularly useful when replacing a scratched front lens or one damaged by aggressive liquids is so expensive that it is not even worthwhile from an economic point of view. The attachment protects the lens against sand, dust and splashes of all liquids, for example.

Filter liegen auf einem Stein

A UV filter, as the name suggests, corrects UV light, i.e. light with a high proportion of ultraviolet radiation, (Photo: danymena88 / pixabay.com)

How does a UV filter work?

A UV filter is usually a coated glass or plastic filter. To avoid image distortion or even a reduction in resolution, the surface of the filter must be absolutely parallel to the lens used. When using a UV filter, light below 350 nanometres is blocked and the negative effects already explained are suppressed.

The following applies: The use of a UV filter only makes sense for outdoor photography. In a closed room, for example in the studio, the filter is quite dispensable.

The handling is relatively simple, the UV filter is placed on the lens or screwed in. Nevertheless, many photographers use a UV filter as a lens protector.

Did you know that the human lens absorbs UV radiation?

We cannot perceive UV radiation because our lens in the eye absorbs the UV radiation completely beforehand. This is to protect us from blindness. People who have a damaged lens due to surgery or an accident perceive UV light as a whitish, milky blue-violet.

Where is a UV filter best suited?

While a UV filter definitely makes sense in analogue photography, the blocking filter is becoming less and less important in the age of digital photography. One reason for this is that most image sensors are already equipped with a UV filter.

In addition, modern lenses filter out UV light from sunlight very well. For this reason, it is usually possible to do without a UV filter on a digital camera.

Especially with modern cameras with multi-lens, coated lenses, the use of a UV filter is not absolutely necessary, as the already thick glass of the lenses already blocks UV radiation sufficiently.

If any other colour filter or polarising filter is used, an additional UV filter is superfluous and only reduces the imaging performance of the lens, i.e. it does not bring any advantages

What does a UV filter cost?

A good filter is not exactly cheap, especially with a large diameter, but it costs very little money compared to a new lens.

Currently, the price range of UV filters varies between 20€ and 140€.

However, the difference between cheaper and more expensive filters is measurable in terms of image quality.

In some cases, cheap filters produce such dull images due to backlighting that they become completely unusable for "normal purposes".

Especially at night in typical "lens flare" situations (lens reflections), low-quality filters quickly reach their limits.

Decision: What types of UV filters are there and which one is right for you?

UV filters for digital cameras

With digital cameras, a UV filter is supposed to protect the image sensor from sand, dirt, liquid or other damage. In addition, the protection is also for the lens itself, so that it is not permanently damaged by harmful UV radiation over time.

Advantages
  • Protection of the image sensor
  • Protection of the lens and front element
  • Suppression of chromatic aberrations
Disadvantages
  • Hardly any sensitivity to UV light
  • Integrated white balance corrects image errors
  • Frequent deterioration of image quality

However, digital image sensors are often not sensitive to UV light at all to such an extent that UV protection by means of a UV filter is sometimes completely unnecessary. Today, the sensors of digital cameras and the corresponding lenses are built in such a way that they suppress UV rays as far as possible. Modern digital cameras also allow a white balance, which can be used to digitally correct a bluish cast caused by UV radiation.

In addition, very inexpensive filters in particular should be treated with caution because they can visibly impair the imaging performance of the lens and thus the sharpness and image quality. In addition, a UV filter increases the susceptibility of a lens to stray light. This in turn can result in unwanted reflections.

UV filters in analogue photography

Since UV filters were originally developed for analogue photography, all the advantages of the filter already mentioned can be demonstrated here. It protects an analogue camera from strong UV light and the associated negative effects, as well as the lens and the front lens itself.

Advantages
  • Blocking of too high UV light irradiation
  • Protection of the lens and the front lens
  • Suppression of chromatic aberrations
  • Image sharpening
Disadvantages
  • Photographic films often already have UV protection
  • High weight of the filters due to several glass layers
  • Less expensive alternatives possible

However, UV filters are becoming less and less important in analogue photography. Even analogue photographic films have a UV protection as the top layer, which already protects the film sufficiently from blue cast and distortions. At the same time, there are more and more alternative filters and lens attachments that can partly fulfil the tasks of the UV filter more efficiently.

Buying criteria: You can use these factors to compare and evaluate UV filters

This chapter describes the most important factors that can be used to compare and evaluate UV filters.

The following criteria will help you to find the right UV filter for you and thus facilitate your purchase decision:

  • Quality of the mount
  • Quality of workmanship
  • Image quality

Quality of the frame

Most UV filters on the market today are surrounded by a metal frame. This particularly stable form of the mount ensures a wobble-free attachment of the filter and a corresponding stability on the lens. In addition, a large number of filters have an internal thread in the mount, which makes it possible, for example, to attach a backlight.

The width of the mount is also an important purchase criterion - the thinner and narrower the mount, the better. The unit of measurement is the lens diameter. It is given in millimetres and can usually be found on the front or top of the lens.

Kunstvolles Foto mit Filter

Good UV filters are available in price ranges between 20 and 140 euros. (Photo: Maurício Mascaro / pexels.com)

Quality of workmanship

The workmanship plays an immense role in this often very narrow and delicate filter. When buying a filter, you should pay particular attention to the way the thin filter glass is fitted. If it rattles or does not close with the filter frame, you should not buy it. If you are in doubt about the workmanship, you should also opt for models with a higher price tag.

Image quality

As already mentioned, the image quality varies greatly from model to model, also depending on the price range. For example, cheap filters sometimes produce such dull images due to backlighting that they are completely unusable for "normal purposes". Especially at night in typical "lens flare" situations, inferior filters also quickly reach their limits.

Did you know that visual acuity is influenced by UV radiation?

The more the lens of an eye absorbs UV radiation, the sharper the creature can see. So it is also assumed that some animal species can consciously perceive UV radiation.

Facts worth knowing about UV filters

How do I attach a UV filter?

You can easily attach or screw the UV filter onto the lens - at any time and as often as you like. The only important thing is that you screw it on so tightly that it does not fall off in a crowd or when driving fast, but at the same time not so tightly that it cannot be unscrewed.

Himmel

A UV filter also protects your lens from the radiation that can damage it. (Photo: Joshua_seajw92 / pixabay.com)

What are the alternatives to UV filters?

The better alternatives for lens protection are the following, as they do not negatively affect the image:

  • The normal lens cap
  • A lens hood
  • Protective filter without further function

Similar to the UV filter, a lens hood is designed to prevent light from the side of the lens or frame from being reflected onto the image sensor or film, or even into the eyepiece.

This can significantly improve the image quality of photographs in certain lighting situations. Especially because the lens hood, also known as a lens hood, reduces both stray light and aperture spots (lens reflections).

These effects occur when comparatively strong light sources, for example strong sunlight, shine directly on the front lens of the lens. Depending on the construction and coating of the lens and the filters used, glare spots or a reduction in contrast due to stray light can vary in intensity.

The shape of lens flare depends on the shape of the aperture. In contrast to stray light, however, aperture spots do not always have a disturbing effect; they can also be deliberately used and brought about as a stylistic device for image composition.

However, ghost spots or other reflections caused by light sources within the image field can naturally not be prevented by a lens hood.

A lens hood, like the UV filter, also offers additional protection for the front lens or the screwed-in filter against damage or dirt such as swirling dust. There is no reason why the lens hood should not be permanently attached to the lens, except when taking pictures with a built-in or attached flash.

When shooting with a flash, the lens hood could cast an unwanted shadow, which is why some lens hoods have a closable opening for use with a built-in flash.

It is also a good idea to use special lens hoods made for the lens to ensure optimum effect. Suitable lens hoods are available as separate accessories for almost all commercially available photo lenses in the form of rigid tubes made of metal or plastic as well as foldable rubber hoods. They are often mounted by means of a screw thread or by screwing them into the filter thread.

It is important that you properly adjust the lens hood to the focal length of the lens. Otherwise the edges of the photo may darken undesirably. This is also referred to as mechanical vignetting. Lens hoods on zoom lenses must also be adapted to the shorter focal length, they do not offer the maximum possible protection of the front lens in the telephoto range.

What other DSLR lens filters are there?

In photography there are a handful of filters that deal with refraction or blocking of light and other mechanisms such as contrast formation.

These include:

  • Polarizing filter
  • ND filter
  • Grey graduated filter
  • Close-up filters

Polarising filters

A polarising filter is a polariser for light that absorbs complementary polarised light instead of reflecting it like polarising beam splitters. A circular polarising filter thus strengthens contrast and also suppresses disturbing reflections. The polarising filter only allows light waves to pass in a certain direction and compensates for the rest of the different wavelike rays.

In this way, a circular polarising filter attenuates existing stray light and has the effect of retaining a large part of the bright sky so that it appears darker and thus more vivid in colour in the photograph. White clouds stand out more clearly against the blue sky and are given more contour.

The circular polarising filter is even more effective in preventing reflections. Especially with oblique angles and shadows, you can remove almost all reflections with the help of a polarising filter. This comes in handy when photographing shop windows, windscreens and still waters.

ND filter

An ND filter, or neutral density filter and grey filter, should be part of every photographer's basic equipment. It is used to achieve an even darkening of the image. Grey filters are also used in film camera and television camera technology as well as in lighting technology. They are uniformly coloured neutral grey so that the colour rendition is not distorted.

Similar to sunglasses, the attachment darkens the incident light and thus enables longer exposure times. This is practical, for example, if you want to shoot in glaring sunlight with high light intensity, but the fastest shutter speed is not sufficient for a correctly exposed shot. Another example is studio photography, where the camera has to be used with a fixed exposure time and stopping down does not lead to the desired result.

To be prepared for all lighting conditions, ND filters are available in different strengths. The filters with the designations ND2 to ND400 darken the image by two to nine f-stops and extend the possible exposure time many times over. You can also stack ND filters and thus multiply the effect. Two ND8 filters screwed on top of each other result in the same effect as one ND64 filter.

Grey graduated filter

Grey gradient filters or GND filters are ND filters that become completely transparent towards one end. They are often used in landscape photography to prevent overexposure of the sky while correctly exposing the ground. Grey graduated filters are half dark and half transparent. The effect of grey graduated filters is particularly extreme in backlit shots. A grey graduated filter can be used here to avoid incorrect exposure.

The grey graduated filter consists of a partially tinted disc whose tint tapers off softly towards the centre. The sky, for example, is darkened by the tint of the disc and thus shows more drawing and contour. This saves complicated exposure series and hours of work with a processing programme.

Close-up lens filter

Close-up lens filters are primarily used in macro photography. However, many amateur photographers shy away from the high purchase costs of a macro lens, which is very expensive. The close-up lens is an inexpensive alternative.

Like a magnifying glass, the close-up lens enlarges the object to be photographed and thus shifts the focus area closer to the subject. Instead of 50 centimetres and more, you can now focus from a distance of 20 to 30 centimetres.

However, since the greater magnification greatly reduces the depth of field, you should always use a tripod and image stabiliser when taking macro photographs. You can also read more about macro lenses in our special guide.

Picture credits: Skitterphoto / pexels.com

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