Several months after buying Tamron 17-50 f2.8 and Tokina 11-16 f2.8 II lenses, I finally bought Hoya UV filters for them. I had been avoiding buying UV filters for these lenses and had in fact stopped using filters on rest of my lenses (I had initially bought filters for all my lenses); because I felt these filters were detrimental to image quality.
So what made me spend money on something I believe will be detrimental to image quality?
Frankly speaking, I wasn’t being careful enough with my lenses and twice this month, my Tokina ended up with finger prints on its front element (despite using lens hood all the time). While I have Lenspen and lens cleaning tissue to clean the lenses and they do a wonderful job, I really do not want to clean front element of my expensive lenses frequently.
Add to that, I will be visiting Pushkar Camel Fair next month and while dust of Pushkar can easily be cleaned with a blower, jostling through the crowded streets of Pushkar and photographing parade and fire breathers often leads to much more than dust getting plastered on the front element of your lens and that is something I really want to avoid.
So even though I believe UV filters reduce amount of light hitting the lens, reduce sharpness and induce flares, I feel they are a necessary evil to have in your kit, which might not be used all the time, but only occasionally to protect the lens. After all, losing a Rs. 1500 filter is way more desirable than losing a Rs. 38,000 lens!