I try my best to use the appropriate filter if possible, but filters are expensive (and fiddly), and sometimes I just have to make do with what I have on hand. I’ve shot with a naked lens many times, and have been generally pleased with the results, especially when I use a lens hood. Leaving the lens objective unprotected isn’t such a good idea though, and it is better to have at least an UV or Haze filter on all the time to protect the lens. Besides, fine optical glass is softer than regular glass, and the lens coatings can be easily damaged (more by clumsy attempts at cleaning, rather than by dust and water droplets).
On the occasions that I remember to carry some of my collection of filters with me on a hike, it’s generally a polarizer and warming filter. The use of filters is a confusing topic, what with all the color compensation, filter factors, lens adapters etc. to keep track of. The little booklet that comes with every filter package is no practical help at all, they are cryptic and assume that you are a professional photographer, or at least one who knows the difference between all of them. The online photography forums are a great repository of information, and I am grateful for the dozens of times that I have found the exact information I need in the archives of Photo.net and other sites, and in the willingness of the forum members to graciously answer a (sometimes very silly) question.
However, when it comes to filters, I’ve found that the best guide around is from the Ridgewood Camera Club of Wyckoff, NJ. The RCC is a vibrant photography club, and have been around since 1937. Here is a copy of their Introduction to Photographic Filters. You can find it online through a Google search, but it’s no longer available on their website, for some reason.
text and images © 2007 ajoy muralidhar. all names, websites, brands and technical data referenced are the copyright or trademark of their respective owners.