Hoya PRO1 Digital UV Filter Review

Introduction

I’ve heard many things regarding camera lens filters, ranging from ‘they do nothing, complete waste of money’ to ‘all of them perform the same, just get the cheapest’, and ‘they’re great, everyone should have one on their lenses’.

If it ain’t obvious already, I fit in the latter group – ‘they’re great, everyone should have one on their lenses’.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not suggesting everyone put a high-end Hoya (and similarly branded) lens filters on all their lenses, I merely recommend you have a lens filter on your lens. This means, it could be a cheap $5 lens filter like I had on my old lenses.

There are many factors to look at when buying a lens filter, but to keep to the topic of this particular article, discussion would be limited to ultraviolet (UV) filters only.

Traditionally UV filters are used to block UV from hitting the film of film cameras, but digital cameras have a UV/IR filter in front of their sensors, so there’re only really three reasons why a person with a digital camera would want to buy a UV filter:

  1. Protect the front element of their lens
  2. Easier cleaning
  3. For the sake of having a filter on one’s lens

For me personally, it’s for points 1 and 2. I would much prefer to accidentally knock my lens filter against something while on a hiking trip than the lens itself and it’s so much easier to clean a flat surface than a curved surface. And because it isn’t part of your lens, you don’t have to worry too much about what you use to wipe/clean it with.

All these benefits are enough reason to get a UV filter.

Sample Photos

I could take two identical photos (one with filter on and the other without the filter) to show you the differences, but there’s already plenty of that kind of comparison photos available.

So below are some links to a few of my Flickr albums to demonstrate the negligible impact of applying a Hoya PRO1 Digital Filter to your lens. (Bet you wouldn’t have known which photos were taken with the filter on, if I had not explicitly told you).

With Filter on

Without Filter

Conclusion

As mentioned in the introduction, I do not recommend you go out and buy a high-end Hoya lens filter for all your camera lenses, but what I do recommend is that you should ideally have a UV filter on all your lenses.

Whether you buy Hoya or another brand is entirely up to you. But you should use common sense when buying a lens filter. i.e. buy a lens filter that is comparable to the price of your lens – don’t stick a cheap $5 filter on a $1,000+ lens.

Finally, getting back to the Hoya PRO1 Digital Filter. It is my first high-end lens filter and I am really happy with its performance (and by performance I do not mean: I slammed it against some wall/tree on a hiking trip and it survived it!). Not sure if it’s a side-effect or intended effect, the Hoya PRO1 Digital Filter actually produces more contrasty photos without loss of detail – something I like. :)

So would I recommend the Hoya PRO1 Digital Filter (UV), heck yes! It’s a solid performer, but I wouldn’t put one of these babies on a lens that costs less than $500. Be an overkill. But hey, it’s a free world; for one, I sure ain’t as hell gonna stop you, but you’ll probably look a little silly though. :)

Counterfeit Note

If you are planning on buying a high-end Hoya Filter, do ensure you read the following two articles on identifying counterfeit Hoya Filters to avoid buying a counterfeit item:

  1. How to identify counterfeit Hoya Filters
  2. HOYA Pro1 Digital Fake Filters Found

Product Photos

Figure 1. Shot of packaging from a far
Figure 2. Hoya Pro1 Digital UV Filter attached to lens
Figure 3. Shot of UV Filter packaging taken with Sony a7S without Filter
Figure 4. Shot of UV Filter packaging taken with Sony a7S with Filter on