Lens filters may seem like relics of the film era, but they still have a use in our digital world. The best 58mm filters are still available in all their permutations, but these days the most common applications are with clear protector, circular polarizing (CPL), and ultraviolet (UV) filters. Polarizing and neutral density (ND) filters are also a favorite of landscape photographers.
UV filters were pre-requisites when using film for filtering out unwanted UV rays, but not so much with digital cameras. However, on a digital format camera, a UV filter acts more like a front element protector than anything else. Protecting that precious front piece of glass on any lens extends its life and a filter is far cheaper to replace than a full lens.
Some photographers may argue that no matter the quality of the filter, it will still degrade light entering the lens. But, with today’s quality of glass, light transference can be near 98% with a quality filter. Meaning, if you spend a few extra dollars on a quality filter, it can double up as a great lens protector and with other filter types, a better way to optimize your images.
Therefore, let’s have a closer look at what is currently available for 58mm filter thread lenses.
The Tiffen 58mm Circular Polarizing Filter is a cost-effective solution that eliminates reflections and provides more contrast to skies and scenery. This 58mm filter doesn’t have any of the fancy multi-coatings of more expensive offerings, but it does work effectively as a polarizer, with a smoothly turning ring to adjust the effect.
There are of course more expensive polarizing filters on the market for this size of filter thread. But, if you’re looking for a basic, first outing with this type of filter, the Tiffen is a good starting point.
Gobe produces filters at different quality levels, ranging from 1Peak to 3Peak, with the 3Peak versions being the best quality. The Gobe 58mm UV 2Peak represents the middle ground in value and quality from a respected filter manufacturer.
Aimed at mid-range quality lenses, this piece of glass features a 16-layer nano-coating which gives a neutral look, while also reducing lens anomalies and protecting the front element from dirt and grime. The magnesium rim is double-threaded to stack on other filters and if your eco-conscious, the company says that they help local communities plant trees in areas affected by deforestation.
As a straightforward UV filter, the Gobe filter is a slimline fit and does a wonderful job of not only protecting the front element but also giving a neutral look, comparable with other top-end filters.
Hoya is another renowned filter manufacturer, producing filters at various price points. In this example, it’s the Hoya 58mm PRO1D UV filter which features a slimline profile, Digital Multi-Coated (DMC) glass, a Black Almite Frame (BAF), and black rimming to reduce reflections.
The lens coating makes this 58mm filter easy to clean and repels water and fingerprints as you would expect from a high-quality filter. Colors, brightness, and sharpness are produced equally well with this filter attached.
The Hoya PRO1D UV would our hit top spot if it wasn’t for the slight added lens flaring in very bright sunlight. This obviously also depends on the lens and camera being used, but if you don’t quite take to the B+W filters, then Hoya is a great option.
I have to admit that the AmazonBasics UV Protection Camera Lens filter was a huge punt at just over six dollars. There’s no fancy lens coating on this filter and it is being advertised for ‘general, everyday use,’ which is exactly what it should be used for.
This 58mm filter will work fine as a general front element protector as long as all your images are shot in reasonable light levels. The main downside to this filter is that it produces larger than normal lens flares, so bright lights are to be avoided.
On the plus side, it’s a solidly built filter and if you really want to spend the least amount of money on a lens protector, this Amazon offering is a good starting point. This filter would be a good first step attached to the front of a kit lens.
6. Vivitar 3-Piece 58mm Filter Kit (Budget Winner)
Vivitar is a blast from the past when it comes to photography equipment. Back in the film days, they were known for their own-brand cameras, lenses, and accessories. Today, they may not be the brand they once were, but this Vivitar 3-Piece 58mm Filter Kit offers excellent value for money, with three individual filters, microfiber cloth, and smart carry case.
The three filters include a UV filter, Circular Polarizer (CPL) filter, and a fluorescent light correction (FDL) filter. You could argue the FDL filter is largely redundant with automatic and fluorescent light white balance features in digital cameras, but the other two are highly useful.
The UV filter, like the other two, is quite thick, but screws seamlessly onto the front thread of a 58mm lens. There is no discernible drop in image detail and as a cost-effective lens protector, it does what it says on the tin.
The CPL filter works as intended and while it may not be the ultimate quality of more expensive filters, it is fully adjustable and works very well as a polarizer.
For sheer value, this three in one kit will at least give you a flavor of how these particular 58mm filters work while also providing reasonable quality.
The Lowdown on 58mm Filters
While there are always going to be a wide variety of 58mm filters available on the market at different price points, it’s always wise to invest in the best quality glass possible. Even if your filter requirements are only as a front of lens protector, then you really don’t want to degrade any light transference. In other words, there’s no point fitting a five dollar filter to the front of a thousand dollars lens and expecting great results.
On the flip side, if you have a kit lens and just want to test the waters with a filter, then some of the cheaper options above can give you a taste of their applications.