Using a UV Filter to Protect Your Video Camera Lens

The topic of using a UV filter to protect your camcorder or DSLR camera lens is a hotly debated one among videographers and photographers these days. Do an online search and you'll see a whole bunch of articles, some for and some against the use of a filter as a means of protecting a camera's delicate (and sometimes quite expensive) lens.

In the case of our most recent camcorder acquisition -- the JVC GC-PX100 --  we've opted to use a 46mm Hoya HMC UV filter.

Watch Marc from Groovy Videos explain our reasoning in the below YouTube video and see him demonstrate how to attach a filter to the JVC camcorder.

Just What is a UV Filter?

A UV filter, also known as a skylight filter, is a thin piece of round glass that fits directly over a camera's lens. Originally, manufacturers designed these filters to be used in conditions where ultraviolet light might affect the quality of the film being shot. 

For example, footage captured on a sunny day might end up with an unnatural blue tint or haze to it. This is because color when filming is separated into three layers (red, green and blue) and the blue layer is more apt to be affected by intense UV light. Manufacturers touted filters, snugly place over a camera lens, as a solution to the ultraviolet light problem.

What Should You Consider When Deciding to Use a Filter or Not?

Many modern digital cameras have built-in mechanisms to prevent UV light from distorting the picture quality. Because of this, some photographers and videographers deem the purchase of a filter a needless expense. Additionally, some people assert that a filter actually negatively alters the resulting footage quality. 

Other video pros argue that this thin piece of clear glass -- when manufactured correctly -- does not harm the resulting image and has a vital role in protecting the underlying camera lens. Since a camera lens can cost hundreds if not thousands of dollars, these folks reason that a much less expensive filter placed over the lens is money well spent. Better to replace the filter if it gets scratched or damaged than the pricey camera lens.

Why We Chose to Use a UV Filter with our JVC GC-PX100 Camcorder

As Marc explains in the above YouTube video, our JVC camcorder lens is built into the camera. If the lens gets damaged, then the whole camera is basically kaput! There is no option of purchasing a new lens to replace the damaged one. Time to buy a new camcorder, an expensive proposition indeed! 

So, for us it was a no brainer to purchase a filter to place over our camcorder's lens. The JVC GC-PX100 has threads on the lens which enable the user to easily add a filter. Not all camcorders include a threaded lens, especially in the lower price range, so this is a nice feature of this particular camera.

We decided on a 46mm Hoya HMC filter, which we keep on the camera at all times, giving us peace of mind that we're protecting our equipment investment.

Tips for Purchasing and Using a Filter

  • Know your filter size: Be sure to purchase the right size filter to match the diameter of your camera lens.

  • Read online reviews before purchasing: You can glean some good info about selecting the right filter for your particular camera by reading online reviews and checking out filter reviews posted on YouTube.

  • Install carefully! Take care not to misthread the filter onto your lens. It should go on easily without any force.

  • Do a before and after footage test: If you're concerned that your UV filter is negatively affecting your footage, shoot some film with and without the filter. Do you notice a difference? If yes, is it acceptable for your purposes?

Other Groovy Videos articles to help you with your next video project:

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