Lens protectors: are they actually worth it?

UV filter lens protector
(Image credit: James Artaius)

It seems like a no-brainer: a lens protector protects your lens, so of course you want to stick one on the front of your expensive optics. After all, with filters costing as little as 20 bucks, why wouldn't you attach one to protect a lens that may have cost 100 times that amount?

However, a lens protector doesn't just protect your lens; it also adds an extra, much cheaper and non-optimized element to the front of your precision-designed lens – which has been painstakingly designed with a complex optical formula consisting of precisely measured and machined, premium-quality glass elements. A far cry from the 20-buck chunk of protective plastic that you'll slap on the front.

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James Artaius

The editor of Digital Camera World, James has 21 years experience as a journalist and started working in the photographic industry in 2014 (as an assistant to Damian McGillicuddy, who succeeded David Bailey as Principal Photographer for Olympus). In this time he shot for clients like Aston Martin Racing, Elinchrom and L'Oréal, in addition to shooting campaigns and product testing for Olympus, and providing training for professionals. This has led him to being a go-to expert for camera and lens reviews, photo and lighting tutorials, as well as industry news, rumors and analysis for publications like Digital Camera MagazinePhotoPlus: The Canon MagazineN-Photo: The Nikon MagazineDigital Photographer and Professional Imagemaker, as well as hosting workshops and talks at The Photography Show. He also serves as a judge for the Red Bull Illume Photo Contest. An Olympus and Canon shooter, he has a wealth of knowledge on cameras of all makes – and a fondness for vintage lenses and instant cameras.