The properties of metal fluoride films (MgF2 CeF3, LaF3 CaF2 and SrF2) deposited using cw laser and electron-beam evaporation were compared. The differences in film properties were subtle, but important. Films obtained by laser evaporation have lower losses in the UV (185–250 nm) and slightly better crystallinity than the films deposited by e-beam evaporation. Other optical and mechanical properties were independent of preparation method. Differences in the film properties were tentatively attributed to the higher proportion of dissociated species in the évaporant plume of the laser-evaporated materials.