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What are the Different Types of UV Protectors?

By Carol Francois
Updated May 16, 2024
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A UV protector is a filter used to screen out ultraviolet (UV) rays. These rays come from the sun and can cause long-term damage through repeated exposure and impact the quality of the image. In photography and videography, the filter is inserted into the optical path. This accessory is normally a plastic or glass dish mounted into a frame, which is attached to the front of the camera lens.

The use of a filter provides the photographer with greater control over the image quality. Outside photos taken without a UV protector can be fuzzy or hazy, because of the interference of the UV rays. These protectors also reduce the level of exposure for the photographer to UV rays, which can be very important if he or she works primarily in outdoor photography.

There are three types of UV protectors: filters, accessories and built-in camera features. These protectors are all focused on improving the quality of the image but also can affect the types of camera work that can be done. UV protectors are not required for indoor photography, because artificial light does not include ultraviolet rays.

The most common type of UV protectors are filters. These transparent lenses are the least expensive and can be left on the camera for all outside photography. The filter absorbs the damaging UV rays, so that there is no effect on image quality. Over time, the filter might loose some effectiveness and should be replaced. A photographer should inspect the lens filter for scratches or damage each time it is used, in order to avoid issues with the images.

Optional accessories that function as UV protectors include sun umbrellas, tarps and other methods of reducing the impact of the sun. These types of devices are often household items and are used specifically to reduce the amount of sun included in the photo. Some photographers use translucent fabrics as UV protectors to reduce the effect of the sun.

Many modern, digital cameras include built-in UV protectors. There might be an option to turn the feature on or off, depending on the camera model. There are two benefits to this delivery method: reduced risk of damage and the opportunity to use other filters.

A built-in filter cannot be damaged, cracked or lost. Most manufactures use hard plastic housing for camera lenses, providing additional protection from dust and fingerprint oil. Most cameras come with many filter options. These add-on filters are used to create specific features in an image, and the ability to combine UV protection with other filters provides the phtotgrapher with greater flexibility.

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