I just returned from a 2600 mile road trip with some fantastic photography. I spent most of my time in Red Rocks near Las Vegas photographing rock climbing. I’ve been rock climbing for 35 years, and it is still my favorite sport. Both my wife and I used to guide climbing, and now our son is tearing it up…nice to have a rock climbing model on hand 24/7!
Since climbing is rough on camera gear, a question came up at the crags which is one I hear often; do you use a UV or Skylite filter to protect the front element of your lens? The short answer is it depends. The issue is how much image quality is lost using a $50 dollar filter in front of a $1000 lens? Honestly I think this is minimal for many images, except those like sun stars where the front filter can cause flare. I normally shoot without a protective filter unless I feel like my lens is going to get some rough treatment and I always have my lens hood on to help protect my lens. I’ve seen many lenses saved on workshops because the photographer had a protective filter on their lens.
Rock climbing qualifies for rough treatment, and I didn’t have a front filter on….yep, I scratched the front element of my trusty 24-120mm lens. When you are dangling around on ropes, it is hard not to bump into the rock face while shooting. I’m not too distraught, I’ll keep using the lens despite the little nick. Eventually I’ll have Nikon replace the front element. In the end you have to decide; in my book it depends on the shooting situation.