UV filters have long been an inseparable piece of equipment that’s found in any photographer’s kit bag because these simple pieces of glass not only protect camera lenses but allow you to control how much light enters the camera sensor.
The best UV filter can help a photographer to not only protect their expensive camera lenses from breakages, dust, scratches and water spray, but they can help them to creatively manipulate light levels and contrasts if they need to.
UV filters come with their own set of problems too though, and photographers need to weigh up the pros and cons of using them, as they can distort images or produce sun flare.
With the best UV filter though, the benefits are likely to outweigh the negatives, you just need to make sure you invest in quality glass and pick the correct filter in terms of size and in terms of quality.
To help you with your next photography purchase, here’s our guide to buying the best UV filter on the market today.
Top 5 Best UV Filters
|Breakthrough Photography X4 UV Filter |
-16 Multi Resistant Coated Layers
-Double Threaded Traction Frame
-Repels Dirt & Water
-Available in 14 sizes
|B+W XS-Pro Clear UV Haze |
-Front Thread for Additional Accessories
-Suited for DSLR & Wide Angle Zoom
-Matte Black Design to Prevent Reflections
-Nano Outer Coating for Protection
-Available in 11 sizes
|Tiffen UV Protection Filter |
-Eliminates Bluish Cast in Photos
-Low Profile Black Ring
-Protects Against Dust & Water
-Great for High Altitudes & Water Photos
-Available in 20 sizes
|Hoya PRO1 Digital UV Multi-Coated Glass Filter |
-Greatly Reduces Lens Flare and Ghosting
-Black Matte Finish
-Aluminum Frame Reduces Reflections
-Ultra Thin Frame
-Reduces Light Reflection
|AmazonBasics UV Protection Camera Lens Filter |
-Eliminates Bluish Cast
-Protects Lens from Dust, Dirt, and Scratches
-Ideal for Outdoor Photos
-Great for High Altitudes & Long Distance
-Available in 8 sizes
Quick Answer: Best UV Filter
- Best on a Budget: Waka MC UV Filter – Ultra Slim 16 Layers
- Best Weather Resistant: AmazonBasics UV Protection Camera Lens Filter
- Best High End: Altura Photo UV Ultraviolet Lens Filter
- Best Overall: Tiffen UV Protection Filter
- Best for a Wide Variety of Cameras: Breakthrough Photography X4 UV Filter
How to Choose the Best UV Filter
Why Do I Need a UV Filter?
UV Filters, or Ultra Violet Filters, are essentially just pieces of UV protected glass which are placed over the glass of a photography lens.
Simply put, they protect the lens and the camera sensor from UV light, and help photographers to also control how much glare or haze is captured and also how much light can enter the camera sensor.
UV filters were once an essential piece of kit for photographers and filmmakers because the old camera film that was used for shooting was very susceptible to distortion if exposed to too much UV.
These days, with better technology and the use of digital SD cards etc, this isn’t so much of a problem, but UV filters remain an important part of a photographers kit for many more reasons.
UV filters can help you to shoot when the sun is at its worst, i.e when there is the most glare, while more specialized ND – Neutral Density – filters, allow you to shoot long exposures, and work in a similar way to the best UV filter attachments.
UV Filters are also great for cutting down the level of haze in a photograph, and you will find that an image of landscapes, where you often find haze in the sky, can be much, much clearer when shot through a UV filter.
While UV rays won’t destroy your photographs like in the old days of photography, camera images are still at the mercy of haze, glare, and distortion.
You can minimize this and create a better quality and clarity of pictures with the help of the best UV filter to place on the end of your lens.
UV Filters for Protection
As well as controlling the level of light that enters the camera, the best UV filter also becomes a useful way to protect your lens, not only from harmful UV rays but from breakages.
The best UV filter will not only be good value, at least, it will certainly be much cheaper than a camera lens, but they are also sturdy and solid, made from quality glass that is designed to protect.
Many photographers see the best UV filter as not only a necessity for cutting glare and haze but as a way to protect their lens.
If you drop your lens and you smash the front against a wall, a rock or any other solid surface, then it will be the UV filter that breaks.
The filters are easily attachable and are simply screwed onto the lens itself, ensuring that you just take the broken filter off and replace it with a new one as soon as you can.
If you don’t have that UV filter on your lens, then it’s your thousand dollar piece of kit that’s broken and that will take a lot more time and money to repair if it’s even repairable.
The best UV filter is also a great way to keep your lens clean, as they become the first layer in your set up and will take the brunt of the dust, sand or dirt that might be whipped up by the wind when you’re shooting outdoors.
They can seal the front layer of glass on your lens from the outside, once again providing you with protection and keeping those annoying spots off your pictures. Just make sure to clean your UV filter regularly and to clean the glass on your lens too before sealing the filter shut.
But, of course, having an extra piece of glass on the end of your lens can cause its own distortion.
It’s important to pick only the highest quality, best UV filter, that not only provides protection but that doesn’t introduce its own set of distortions when you are taking photographs.
Different Size Considerations
It’s important to know that filters for camera lenses are made to different and very specific sizes.
Filters are mounted on the front of course, and they are screwed into position, meaning that your filter needs to be an exact match for your lens or it’s no good at all.
Sizes are usually measured in millimeters, and you need to check what size your particular lens takes before buying. If you have multiple lenses then this will, of course, mean that you need multiple sizes of filter to protect them all.
In many cases, if you buy a camera lens in a photographic store or even online, you’ll be given the option of adding on a UV filter to your purchase, and it’s always worth the extra expense.
Different UV Filter Strengths
UV filters can come with different strengths and stopping powers, and it’s important to get a filter that’s a good fit for your needs.
Cheaper UV Filters will be thicker but not necessarily sturdier and can produce more distortion and reduce clarity, whereas a thinner UV filter will cut down on this distortion.
Thinner filters can be coated more effectively too, to produce a greater level of protection while maintaining quality, but of course, they cost more. You will want to buy a filter with Multi-Resistant Coating to make sure it’s doing the best job possible.
If you really need the filter for protection then Brands like Hoya offer super strong filters with extra strength glass, that’s also at a minimal thickness cut too.
Different Types of Filters
While UV filters are the most basic, standardized form of filter that photographers use, there are also many other types of filter which act in a similar way.
The most well-known type, are ND Filters, or Neutral Density Filters. These are designed for more seasoned photographers as you need practice and at the very least a basic level of photography, knowledge to utilize them effectively.
ND Filters stop light from actually entering the lens and hitting the sensor, and they come with various stopping strengths that allow photographers to manipulate their pictures.
Importantly, ND Filters don’t change the color of an image as its recorded, which is why they come in handy when taking long-exposure photographs.
By stopping the light, you can expose the camera for much longer and produce a much more interesting picture, create light trails and many other artistic works too.
ND Filters come with different stopping powers, but you need to know which ones are best for which lighting conditions and exposure times, which is why they are for more experienced photographers.
Problems with UV Filters
It’s important to invest in the best UV filter because having inferior filters can lead to unfortunate complications when it comes to photography.
The main problem with UV filters is the fact that an added layer of glass can seriously reduce the sharpness of your picture. While it cuts out the UV, it can distort the quality of your image, and lead to pictures that aren’t quite as focused.
UV filters can also pose a challenge when shooting for contrast, as they can weaken or distort different colors.
While some photographers use this intentionally to be creative in long exposure takes etc, for photographers who are just starting out and learning the basics it can be another challenge to learn about and compensate for these added discrepancies.
The added layer of glass that comes with a UV filter can also produce what’s called lens flare. This is a serious distortion of your image that occurs in extremely bright light, although it’s also a ‘technique’ that some photographers go out of their way to find and to recreate!
Overall though, the benefits of a UV filter outweigh the negatives, especially if you are buying only the best UV filter to add your kit.
The Best UV Filter Brands
Quality is important when it comes to choosing the best UV filter, because at the end of the day if you want to protect an expensive lens then what’s the point of using a cheap filter too?
The best brand in the business is generally considered to be Hoya, as they offer an excellent range of high-quality filters for all needs and for most lenses on the market.
Other great filter brands are generally those companies that produce quality lenses and know what’s needed. Zeiss are always a great choice, as are Canon, depending on which cameras you use.
Best UV Filter Recommendations
Breakthrough Photography X4 UV Filter
This X4 UV features SCHOTT Superwhite B270 optical glass. Their state-of-the-art multi-resistant coating has 16-layers which increases light transmission to 99.4% and creates a protective layer that’s structurally harder than the glass.
The moment you pick up X4 UV you’ll immediately feel the craftsmanship and quality.
This UV filter is compatible with all required size of camera lenses. Your lens thread size will be printed underneath your lens cap or written somewhere on the lens barrel.
Make sure you order the correct size otherwise it will not fit your lens.
In addition to state-of-the-art MRC, their optical engineers developed new nano coating layer technology, called nanotec, from the ground up to repel dirt, water and other elements by beading rather than absorbing and smearing, making it easier (and faster) than ever to clean.
- 16 Multi Resistant Coated Layers
- Ultra Slim
- Double Threaded Traction Frame
- Repels Dirt & Water
- Available in 14 sizes
Check Breakthrough Photography X4 UV Filter price at Amazon
B+W XS Pro Clear UV Haze
This B+W UV Filter blocks the invisible UV component of light from the sky, which can cause blur and to which many color films react with a blue cast.
These filters should be called UV-Blocking Filters, because there are filters for technical applications that pass UV radiation and block all the other wavelengths.
UV Filters are ideal for photography in high altitudes (in the mountains), by the sea and in regions with very clean air.
This UV Filter is very suitable as protection of the front element of the taking lens against dust, flying sand, sea water spray and the like, and it can be kept on the lens at all times.
It is recommended for analog color and black-and-white as well as digital photography.
- Front Thread for Additional Accessories
- Suited for DSLR & Wide Angle Zoom
- Matte Black Design to Prevent Reflections
- Nano Outer Coating for Protection
- Available in 11 sizes
Check B+W XS-Pro Clear UV Haze price at Amazon
Tiffen UV Protection Filter
This Tiffen UV Protection filter exhibits a greater sensitivity to what is to us invisible, ultraviolet light.
Used most often outdoors, especially at high altitudes, where the UV absorbing atmosphere is thinner; and over long distances, such as marine scenes.
It can show up as a bluish color cast with color film, or it can cause a low contrast haze that diminishes details, especially when viewing far away objects, in either color or black and white.
Some digital cameras have blocks, auto correction and digital filters that combat the bluish color cast, therefore, the UV Protection filter is a simple protector for your lens to combat dirt, finger prints & that fateful knock or drop.
- Eliminates Bluish Cast in Photos
- Low Profile Black Ring
- Protects Against Dust & Water
- Great for High Altitudes & Water Photos
- Available in 20 sizes
Check Tiffen UV Protection Filter price at Amazon
Hoya PRO1 Digital UV Multi-Coated Glass Filter
Protect your investments with this PRO1 Digital Protector Filter from Hoya, which acts as the first line of defense for your lens. As a clear filter, it is designed to have no impact on your image quality and has no light loss.
A digital multi-coating helps optimized image quality by preventing flash and ghosting while black rimmed glass minimizes the chances of edge reflections.
Also, this filter has a low profile matte black aluminum frame with 58mm front filter threads and knurled sides. Additionally, it comes with a UV-protected filter case.
- Greatly Reduces Lens Flare and Ghosting
- Black Matte Finish
- Aluminum Frame Reduces Reflections
- Ultra Thin Frame
- Reduces Light Reflection
Check Hoya PRO1 Digital UV Multi-Coated Glass Filter price at Amazon
AmazonBasics UV Protection Camera Lens Filter
Enhance the quality of your outdoor photos with help from the AmazonBasics UV protection filter.
Considered the most popular protection filter, the UV protection filter helps reduce ultraviolet light for better-looking results, plus offers a welcome layer of protection for your camera lens.
Whether novice or professional, capturing the great outdoors on film can be immensely rewarding. The AmazonBasics UV protection filter helps take it to the next level of awesome.
The AmazonBasics UV protection filter helps absorb ultraviolet light, which in turn helps create clearer, more accurately vibrant photographs.
In addition to UV protection, this filter will protect your camera lens from dirt, dust, moisture, scratches, fingerprints, accidental knocks, and other damage with the AmazonBasics UV protection filter.
- Eliminates Bluish Cast
- Protects Lens from Dust, Dirt, and Scratches
- Ideal for Outdoor Photos
- Great for High Altitudes & Long Distance
- Available in 8 sizes
Check AmazonBasics UV Protection Camera Lens Filter price at Amazon
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