Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 1998/01/26

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Subject: [Leica] Filters, again, very long.
From: Jim Brick <>
Date: Mon, 26 Jan 1998 00:00:02 -0800

At 10:37 AM 1/26/98 -0800, Francesco wrote:
>I wholeheartedly agree.....I am also anti-filter.  One of the best features
>of the 
>Leica lenses is that they have UV protection built-in.  Jim is right, keep
>lens cap on until you're ready to shoot!

I know I'm going to get all kinds of dissenting comments on the following.
But it is the truth, collected from 50 years of photographic experience and
reading available literature. Especially Leica literature. So go ahead and
tell me I full of it. I don't care. It's my experience and I'm simply
passing it along. Do with it what you wish.

For some unknown reason, people fail to understand that Leica says "use a
filter for specific purposes only" "a filter can and will cause flare and
ghosting" "do not allow bright/contrasty or stray direct sunlight hit the
filter." This is why they put UV inhibitor in the glue... SO YOU DON'T NEED
A UV FILTER ON THE LENS. Leica does not recommend filter use if there is NO

Using a UV filter as protection is silly. What part of the entire surface
of your camera, is the lens glass itself. Typically, a very small
percentage. Now how, prey tell, can you bash ONLY THE GLASS OF YOUR LENS,
without taking out the rest of the front of your lens. How often does
something stick itself exactly in the lens opening and hit just the glass.
Looking at your camera overall, the chances of bashing the camera, the
pentaprism, the rangefinder, basically the camera itself, is far greater
than having something zero itself in, precisely on the lens glass. If you
are going to bash your lens, believe me, it won't be a dead center hit! If
it hit hard enough to break or badly scratch the front element, you've got
bigger problems than just the glass. So protect your camera. And use a lens

There have been far more cameras bashed, than front elements (with no other
damage) bashed. Put a filter on your lens and bash the filter. Chances are
you'll take out the filter threads and bend the front part of the lens.

Some people say that they are protecting the front element against bad air.
Well... a filter in not hermetically sealed. Bad air is in the camera, on
the rangefinder mirrors, on the SLR pentaprism and mirror, on the lens,
front and back. You cannot keep it away from your lens with a filter. Ocean
spray? Well, if you are going to use a filter, use a polarizer, and get
that deep blue sky & water, and super white waves and sails. Or no filter.
Salt water on that precious front lens element? I'd rather have it there
than on my camera mechanics. The f-stop ring. Under the shutter speed dial.
Etc... It's really easy to clean off of the lens. Some ROR and a
micro-cloth. But the camera??? Much more difficult.  And for that utmost
precious glass, like the 15mm Super Elmar R, or 19mm R, there are NO FILTER
THREADS. UV junkies need not apply. One must use the intended protection. A
lens cap.

In reality, your front lens element is one of the most already protected
part of your camera. Instead of destroying that really super multicoated
lens that Leica spent years and millions developing, with a dumb UV filter,
I urge you all to let your front element do what it was designed to do. Be
the first piece of glass to kiss those image forming light rays. But by all
means, use a filter if you have a GOOD PHOTOGRAPHIC REASON. But wait...
since your camera is far more vulnerable than the glass down inside the
lens barrel, already protected by a lens shade, what you all really need is
a nice big never-ready case, surrounding and protecting that precious
camera from sticks and stones and yucky mucky air.

Why do I persist with this thread? I believe people should know the truth.
Use a filter, go to jail. It's the law. NO NO NO... just kidding. I'm a big
fan of using filters. Real filters. FOR REAL PHOTOGRAPHIC PURPOSES.
Polarizer, KR3, KR6, 4xND, ND grads, color grads. You've gotta admit that,
without speaking, Leica is telling you something when they put UV inhibitor
in the lens glue AND a couple of their most expensive lenses have no filter
threads. Ever see a 15mm Super Elmar R up close? I have one and the bulbous
front element not only sticks way out, but swamps the entire front of an R
camera in size. Now if a front lens element is vulnerable for whacking...
this is the one. So I use my trusty lens cap when not shooting.

The bottom line is... when you have a filter on your lens, pay special
attention to what is in front of the lens. The time of day, etc. At night,
bright lights will cause ghosting. During the day, stray sun rays will
cause flare. All of this is easy to see with an R camera. But with an M,
well... you cannot see the filter effect and you are probably shooting,
hand held, subjects that are all over the place. I don't have any filters
for my M2 and really don't think I'll get any. But if you do use a filter
on your M camera, pay special attention where you point it.

OK... I'll shut up now. And I won't respond further. I'm old and tired. And
said enough.

Good night,

Jim "no UV" Brick