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Poor Value: Many 52mm UV Filters Will Work with Your Lumix Just As Well At Half or A Quarter of The Price
on March 5, 2014
I am writing this review to try to save some brand new Lumix FZ or Micro 4/3 camera owners $20 or more and I'm urging you to ignore the many 5-stars reviews for this product because they are doing nothing more than rating how it works. I won't dispute their claims that this product works perfectly well, but they are all failing to address the other essential component of a good review - the product's value. Reviews should address not just a product's worth, but its worth relative to other competitor's products. One of those comparators should be price relative to features. This clear glass lens cover is extremely expensive for what it is - a clear piece of glass with a filter thread wrapped around it.
It really seems like most, if not all, of these 5/5 reviews are written by people with no experience with photography beyond basic point-and-shoot cameras who decided to go for a big step up from a pocket camera and bought a Panasonic Lumix FZ series super-zoom or a Micro 4/3 interchangeable lens camera, then saw this product under their camera manual's accessory list, and bought it without understanding that they were not restricted to buying Lumix branded lens accessories. Buying this Panasonic protective filter is akin to obeying the language in your brand new lawn mower's manual that says you should only use Briggs & Stratton or Honda oil, which will cost twice as much for a tiny bottle as a full quart bottle of equivalent weight (and exactly equivalent) Pennzoil or Quaker State would cost you.
Folks, your FZ200, FZ150, G5, GF6, etc... has 52mm threads at the end of your lens barrel (for other older models, check your user's manual - some might be 58mm) for accepting screw-on lens filters, just like a DSLR and like a 35mm film SLR in prior years. 52mm is a common, standard size for filters and there is absolutely no reason on earth to spend $30 on a Panasonic clear glass protective filter (actually over $37 with shipping) when practically any 52mm filter would fit and any decent quality one will do the job just as well and most cost less than $30. Plus, you could get added photographic benefit by getting an actual filter as opposed to just clear glass. For all-around use, get a UV filter, which cuts down slightly on haze, both indoors and outdoors but won't alter color or light (UV filters had much more of an impact on film cameras than digital ones, though). If you shoot primarily outdoors, think about getting a polarizing filter, which will darken skies, provide greater contrasts for clouds, and minimize reflections, particularly off water and windows. Both types of filters will protect your lens against scratches and impacts just as well as this $30 clear filter, plus they can actually make your photos better.
I'll post a link in a comment (Amazon won't allow exterior links in review bodies) to Wikipedia's page on polarizing filters that has sample photos that show the difference such a filter can make.
Look for a multi-coated filter to reduce the flare. Tiffen and Hoya filters are probably two of the more popular brands and I've used their products since before the age of digital cameras, but a quick look through the reviews here reveals that AGFA 52mm filters at around $7-11 each are getting extremely good reviews and several people have commented that the $14 Sigma filters are better than ones costing more than double.
The bottom line is that most people considering this product would be better off ignoring the 5/5 reviews and spending half or one-third as much and getting a non-Panasonic 52mm UV filter instead, or even buying several filters or a 3-filter pack for less money. A decent quality non-Panasonic filter will work every bit as well as this Panasonic one and will even accept your Lumix lens cap (my old Lumix DMC G2's cap fit both Tiffen and Hoya filters).
EDIT: since writing this review, I bought a Lumix FZ200 and when I pulled out my old Tiffen 52mm UV filter that I kept when I sold my Lumix G2, I saw that it had a few spots on it that just weren't wiping completely clean, so I ordered the AGFA 52mm UV filter from Amazon for $6.99. It screwed on just fine and I detect no difference at all in image quality between photos taken with the AGFA filter or with no filter. My FZ200's lens cap fits it, too, no differently than with no filter on. So factoring in shipping (I'm a Prime member so shipping on the AGFA filter was free) I paid 20% of the cost of this Panasonic clear lens cover with shipping and got something that is at least equal in quality. For the money I saved, I can nearly buy a decent 64gb memory card.