We’re going come ask a controversial question: What carry out UV filters do, exactly? A UV blocking filter, (not to be perplexed with a UV Bandpass filter, which has the the contrary function) is probably the many standard lens filter the end there. It’s sold with every beginning of the person lens filter kit together with polarizers and ND filters, and also sometimes it’ll also ship v your camera. The filter chin sounds an easy enough: a filter the blocks UV light. But, what does the mean, and why is prevent UV light something we desire to do? Lenses us have numerous glass elements and coatings that block UV light. Furthermore, every digital camera design leaves the factory with a bluish-green item of IR/UV blocking glass end the sensor preinstalled. Is this glass insufficient? do we really need an ext to correct for UV light contamination?

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Original IR/UV cut filter traction from a Sony a6000

Shooting v a UV lens filter seems less necessary with modern cameras and also optics. The shade science of various camera models and sensors appears to have an ext of an influence on subtle distinctions in one image’s color and also biases 보다 anything else these days. Most human being who’ve casually provided a UV filter in recent years more than likely couldn’t tell much of a difference between their image with and without the extra glass.

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Many others will say they only thread top top a UV filter to safeguard their lens, which renders intuitive sense. A class of clean glass in between the outside world and your $1,000+ front facet sounds favor cheap insurance, the reasoning photographer’s move. To our surprise, the manufacturers will certainly tell girlfriend this is absolutely no the case, as Usman Dawood uncovered in his post earlier this month.

Many photographers will still insist that lens defense is the an essential benefit here, yet makers of UV filters plainly state they room made to prevent UV light. Lens defense is largely asserted as a second benefit. What, then, is the clinical basis for utilizing a clear glass filter to remove the influence of UV irradiate with modern-day cameras?

Many ways to picture a Rainbow

At Kolari Vision, where I work, we convert and design cameras and filters for photography and also videography past the visible irradiate spectrum, right into the infrared (IR) and ultraviolet (UV) wavelengths. Spectral evaluation is a crucial part of what we do. Knowing which wavelengths space beingtransfer right into the last image and also to what magnitude is essential.


We wanted to know exactly how much UV irradiate is even reaching a modern digital camera sensor in the very first place, and whether over there is sufficient to make an effort to block it necessary.

While every cameras are made with the target of recreating the visual light spectrum (400nm-700nm) that us see v our eyes, spectral infection varies rather by camera model and even further between brands. So, we compiled the infection curves of 82 cameras make in the critical 10-15 years including Canon, Nikon, Sony, Fujifilm, and also 1 Pentax to recognize which cameras, if any, might advantage the many from utilizing a UV lens filter.

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Click to expand and zoom in!

The Ultraviolet (UV) spectrum begins at 400nm and continues to the left past the edges of this chart. A great quality UV filter have to be blocking any part of this lines that goes below that 400nm mark. The curve listed below by LensTip is an example of a (good) UV filter infection curve. In this case, the Hoya HMC UV-0 illustrates the effect really well.

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If friend dig v the data in the LensTip post (which we highly recommend, they provide a great resource), you’ll find that UV filters have actually UV cutoff points the are almost everywhere the place, starting at 330nm as much as 395nm or so. The 330nm cutoff Hoya and Tiffen filter are particularly egregious, this one would not also block our UV Bandpass filter wavelengths which room 365nm centered.

In fact, traditional uncoated glass tends to lose UV transmission roughly 350nm. Yet even if you pick a better UV filter that cut UV in ~ 395nm, girlfriend will notice you space still listed below where contemporary digital cameras currently cut out UV. We compiled the mean cutoff allude for every brand we analyzed below.


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As you deserve to see, every brand cuts UV an ext aggressively than standard UV filters. It is amazing to keep in mind that if Nikon Fuji and also Pentax cut at approximately 420nm, Canon is a little weaker at 416nm, when Sony in general permits the most UV light through cutting under at 409nm. Every individual camera is different, and we expect more recent cameras will begin approaching the 420nm cutoff point throughout the board eventually.

Will any type of UV Filters perform Anything for her Photos?

Overall many UV filters don’t block any additional light from getting to your sensor, your sensor is currently filtering UV light much more aggressively than typical UV filters. This properly makes her UV filter a clear piece of glass.

There is, however, some small mix that might do something. A very aggressive UV filter v a 420nm cutoff point could help on Sony or Canon cameras that generally have slightly weaker UV filters constructed in than Nikon, Fuji, and also Pentax. Relying on your certain model, your Nikon or other model may likewise have a weaker interior UV filter and could stand to advantage slightly native the extra UV filtration to bring it as much as the contemporary flagship standards.

We are launching our very own filter choose this quickly to do just that. One more thing to keep in mind is that you will periodically see the ax UV haze filter. Fog filters are advertised as stronger UV cutoff filter than plain UV filters, yet take this through a serial of salt. Numerous UV haze filters that we checked still only reduced off approximately 400nm.

Did basic UV filter Ever carry out Anything?

At this allude you may be thinking, if UV filter don’t perform anything on a brand-new camera, are they a scam? go they ever do anything? The price is certainly! In film photography, UV have the right to absolutely be an issue and also something that is worth filtering out. Even in the beforehand days that digital, plenty of cameras were no filtering UV out well in ~ the sensor level and UV filters helped. Here are part cameras with weak UV filtration.

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As you deserve to see, earlier models’ spectral transmission have actually a much greater diversity the slope and also range, and the 400nm line is treated more like a brand-new Jersey speed limit than a hard cutoff point. With transmission curves prefer these, it’s less complicated to see why second filter could be necessary. Manufacturers started working to exactly this internally, most notably through the Nikon D40x sport of the Nikon D40.

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The Nikon D40 was originally released in 2006. One year later, Nikon released an updated version v the D40x that, amongst a few other upgrades, included a much more aggressive UV cut filter end the sensor. The Nikon D200 contained this feature also even earlier in 2005. This specific UV cutoff began as a premium camera function that has since been standardized to every models with only slight variation in between them.

On the Margins

Looking earlier at the contemporary bodies, the Sonys stood for by the red-orange lines, appear to be the worst criminal here, and they have actually been criticize in the past for poor color science particularly with skin tones, though their many recent models have improved top top this significantly.

Canon, top top the various other hand, stood for by the blue lines, is praised because that its excellent color and also has been for part time. The Canons, in addition to the solitary Pentax displayed in black, it seems ~ to kind a nice average of every the cameras us tested.

Nikon plays very conservative and also stays well behind the 400nm mark. Fuji does the exact same with a well above average red/infrared sensitivity too when contrasted to all various other models.


Based top top this sample, it would certainly seem that if any type of camera would benefit from a UV lens filter, it would more than likely be a Sony, though this test is no taking the lens into account. We’ve discovered in previous experimentation that that very an overwhelming to discover a lens the transmits a the majority of UV light.

Based on this casual observations, over there does seem to be part correlation between fine-tuning a camera’s spectral transmission and also the perceived color accuracy of one image. But, if that were the case, climate the final color quality of picture is just as likely to be affected by the red/infrared finish of the spectrum from 600nm-700nm as it is the UV.

This is specifically important to consider because much discussion and subjective controversy on cameras’ color science centers on skin tones which room mostly made up of red. Adjusting the red light sensitivity the a camera have to significantly influence skin ton color. Sony and Nikon (red-orange and green) have tendency to skew less red if Canon (blue) has more. Fujifilm (red) meanwhile is exceptionally perceptible to red and also even part infrared, which explains why some Fuji models can accomplish faster IR exposures than various other cameras once using an infrared lens filter.

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This opens up up a greater conversation on model- and also brand-specific color science and also how lot it entails the infection of its stock IR/UV blocking sensor glass vs internal pre-processing. In cinema-grade cameras, there are frequently multiple sensor IR/UV cut filter choices for various shooting scenarios permitting the colors to be shifted to much more or less red and also UV sensitivity depending on the scene, mirroring that the filter in prior of her sensor perform play a role in tape-recorded colors in means that software can’t resolve later.

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About the author: beat Nadolski is a photographer and also technician at Kolari Vision, an infrared camera conversion organization based in new Jersey. The opinions expressed in this write-up are exclusively those that the author. Kolari Vision newly announced the Kolari IR ND filter, which that believes to it is in the finest on the market. You can learn an ext about the company’s service’s on its website. This post was also published here.