@frederickvan recently tweeted about an article by the Tri-City Photography Club entitled “UV/Protective Filters in a digital age… useful or bunk!?!”, which was timely for me as I recently acquired an Olympus PEN E-P1 and while I normally eschew filters and rely on lens hoods for protection from the daily bump and grind, this tiny camera has no lens hood and with the lens cap off, the glass is quite exposed—so I was thinking of getting a little protection for it.

I popped down to the local Samy’s Camera in hopes of picking up a 37mm UV filter, but walked away empty handed as the only one they had was a Heliopan costing something like $60. They had no inexpensive Hoya’s or the like, and frankly that just seemed a bit rich. Now, had the Samy’s salesman been able to tell me what John Roberts of the Tri City Photography Club did, and I just verified myself, I may have spent the coin.

You should read John’s article, as it goes into great depth on compares many different filters. The short and skinny though is that a bad filter will give you ghosting or even worse, reflections off hotspots in the scene. Sadly only minutes before I read John’s article I’d place and amazon.com order for a cheap HOYA 37UV 37mm UV Filter, figuring it would be just fine. When it arrived yesterday I eagerly repeated John’s test—and was very, very disappointed with my purchase. The filter will be shipped back today.

Here’s the test shots; camera on a tripod, pointed at the ceiling lamp, without and then with the filter. The difference speaks for itself.

Olympus PEN E-P1 17mm lens, NO filter

Olympus PEN E-P1 17mm lens WITH the HOYA 37UV 37mm UV Filter