Circular Polarizer

NSXTypeRNSXTypeR Posts: 2,279Member
Hello all, I got back into photography a bit and I'm experimenting with circular polarizers. Of course, I decided to go the cheap route and bought a kit with a circular polarizer and a ND filter. However, prices vary wildly and while I know you get what you pay for, but what is the difference in performance between an expensive and a cheap polarizer? Maybe in coatings and vignetting?

Nikon D7000/ Nikon D40/ Nikon FM2/ 18-135 AF-S/ 35mm 1.8 AF-S/ 105mm Macro AF-S/ 50mm 1.2 AI-S


  • donaldejosedonaldejose Posts: 3,594Member
    Vignetting is often due to a thick filter ring on a wide angle lens, not the polarizer itself. Coatings often make little difference if you position the lens so sun light does not strike it directly. Experiment with what you have purchased to see if you can detect any problems it produces. The ND filter is often used to allow for the use of longer shutter times to blur water. The polarizer is often used to darken skies (effectiveness depends on your angle from the sun), to reduce reflections and to saturate colors. I suggest when you think an image would be better with a polarizer you shoot two images: one without a polarizer and then one with a polarizer. That way you can compare them in detail when you get home. I also suggest that on a sunny day with a blue sky and a few white clouds you point your camera with polarizer attached to the sky with the sun at your back (160 degrees) and rotate the polarizer to see what effect it has on the sky. Then point your camera at the sky with the sun off your right or left shoulder (90 degrees) and rotate the polarize to see the effect it has on the sky. Some effect of a polarizer can be seen right through the viewfinder while other effects (such as on leaves) can be seen best back home in the computer when comparing two images as suggested above.
  • WestEndFotoWestEndFoto Posts: 3,724Member
    edited October 9
    I shoot the Nikon CPs and they are very good.

    I have had an interesting experience with ND filters. I have a 3, 5, 10 and 15 stop from Singh Ray. That is more than $2k. ND filters are notorious for having colour casts. There are two colour cast issues.

    First is the actual cast.

    Second is the consistency of the cast amoung different f-stops. A minor cast is one thing. But having to deal with a different minor cast depending on whether you use a 3, 5, 10 or 15 is another. And then when you stack them..........

    I used 77mm Singh Rays with 77mm step up rings. That worked pretty good until the 24-70 2.8E, 50 1.2S and 85 1.2S came out. I kicked myself. I should have had the foresight to buy 82mm filters and accompanying step up rings almost 10 years ago.

    So this year I decided to bite the bullet and upgrade to 82mm. And I decided to see if I could do better than my Singh Rays.

    What was the result? The Singh Rays came in second. They were still very good. In fact the excercise reinforced how good the Singh Ray filters are.

    What surprised me was the Kenko Realpro. Less than half the price and no colour cast that I could identify. Which means I don't need the 15 as I can just stack the 10 and 5 with not weird colour cast combinations. I also got a 3.

    So I would just buy the Kenko Realpros and be done with it. The only thing I would say is I think Kenko and Hoya are the same company and Hoya might have the same filters under their label. I am not sure though but if you can't get Kenko, I might look into this. The Hoyas I did test where not as good as the Kenko.

    Also, some low quality filters cause softening etc. The Singh Ray and Kenkos are sharp as a tack.
    Post edited by WestEndFoto on
  • NSXTypeRNSXTypeR Posts: 2,279Member
    Thanks for the suggestions! I've definitely noticed a big difference on blue sky days. Using a circular polarizer is definitely more subjective though.
    Nikon D7000/ Nikon D40/ Nikon FM2/ 18-135 AF-S/ 35mm 1.8 AF-S/ 105mm Macro AF-S/ 50mm 1.2 AI-S
  • donaldejosedonaldejose Posts: 3,594Member
    Right, it is a creative choice. I like dark blue skies and fluffy white clouds. You will also notice a big difference in getting rid of (or cutting through) reflections in shallow water.
  • WestEndFotoWestEndFoto Posts: 3,724Member

    Right, it is a creative choice. I like dark blue skies and fluffy white clouds. You will also notice a big difference in getting rid of (or cutting through) reflections in shallow water.

    Absolutely. Ever think about IR?
  • donaldejosedonaldejose Posts: 3,594Member
    IR, not me. Interesting, but for me not worth the conversion cost. I like saturated colors. Don't much like B&W except for "film noir" style photos. Like these.




    But I still like strong color better, even in this "film noir gangster style" self portrait. My eye is just attracted to strong colors, even when the subject is gray tones.

  • WestEndFotoWestEndFoto Posts: 3,724Member
    Nice shots. The black and white is nice. I love shooting black and white and in fact I spend more time on the colours in black and white than I do in colour. As an example, fool around with the blue luminosity slider in Lightroom on a shot with a clear sky.
  • donaldejosedonaldejose Posts: 3,594Member
    WEF Since you are using Lightroom, try the new lens blur feature. My guess is that it will not work well on details, such as producing blur around sharp stray hairs. An f1.2 lens will do better. But this lens blur feature is still in its first iteration. By version 4 it should be much better. Wouldn't it be just crazy if normal f1.8 lenses plus Lightroom lens blur produced bokeh images just as good as f1.2 lenses?
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