Speak to me of polarizers

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We've been having some nice sunny weather, so last weekend I dug out my good sunglasses (Maui Jims) and suddenly the world looked wonderful. Deep, clear, gorgeous colors. And I thought, "if my eyes like good polarized lenses so much, wouldn't my camera like them too?" The result, of course, is that I now think I might be in the market for a polarizing filter or filters, depending on which lenses I decide I'm likely to use for landscapes, and how much the price hurts.

Am I right that a polarizing filter will do the same thing for my pictures that good sunglasses do for my eyes? (Except for the "looking cool and fashionable" part, which frankly I don't.) Is it useful for anything other than making landscape colors pop on sunny days, and reducing reflections from water? I haven't found myself taking a lot of pictures of water, but who knows whether that will change.

What should I keep in mind when I'm shopping for one? I suppose I'm looking for something in the "acceptable" range. I don't have pro quality lenses (or pro quality skills), but I don't want to slap something on my camera that will make my pictures even worse than they currently are. Specific recommendations -- either to buy or to avoid -- are welcome!

I've read through some threads here, but they tended to get acrimonious, and weren't particularly helpful to me. I don't want to reopen any cans of worms -- just asking for a little advice for a clueless noob. Thanks!
 

Wisertime

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I think Cokin, B+W and/or Haiden (I can't speak from personal experience, but based on the 10stop ND thread, I'd guess they are good quality/price) would serve you ok for a reasonable price.

They also will eliminate reflections on windows and such and give deeper blues in skies. They might not automatically give you the cool look of your sunglasses, but with practice and proper use, they should probably be close.
 

fin azvandi

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I've got a B+W polarizer - you aren't limited to using them for water or landscapes, they can also help cut a bit of the harsh light if you are shooting anything midday.

If you have a wide angle lens and are taking a picture with a lot of sky in it, a polarizer can cause bands of lighter/darker blue depending on the angle you are shooting relative to the sun (the atmosphere polarizes the light to some extent) - it's something to watch out for.
 

yakky

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I don't shoot without one in the middle of the day, they really seem to add a lot of pop. The cheaper ones seem to have more color cast, but the more expensive ones aren't immune. Setting manual WB is important as is making sure the filter is rotated the right way if you want dark blue skies.
 

ean10775

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For a mirrorless camera you can use a circular polarizer or a linear polarizer. Typically the linear will provide a stronger effect. My two polarizers (one circular, one linear) are both Heliopan but I've used Marumi and Tiffen as well. The Tiffen was certainly the cheapest but I didn't notice any meaningful lack of IQ from it or noticeable color cast. I always shoot with one outdoors in harsher sunlight, especially when shooting plants or water. It really makes a difference in the color saturation you get by reducing the glare. The recent shots from the zoo on my flickr page were all shot with a polarizer.
 

Cruzan80

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Depending on the lenses, you may find it is cheaper to either get one in the largest size, and step up, or get something like the Cokin A or P lineup. For the A, the polarizers are a "B" filter (the round part in the front). I have both a linear and a circular, and agree that they are quite helpful if shooting during the day. They also work great for both museum work (to cut the reflections on the glass) and as a 1-3stop ND filter depending on which I am using and orientation.
 

tornado

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For a mirrorless camera you can use a circular polarizer or a linear polarizer. Typically the linear will provide a stronger effect. My two polarizers (one circular, one linear) are both Heliopan but I've used Marumi and Tiffen as well. The Tiffen was certainly the cheapest but I didn't notice any meaningful lack of IQ from it or noticeable color cast. I always shoot with one outdoors in harsher sunlight, especially when shooting plants or water. It really makes a difference in the color saturation you get by reducing the glare. The recent shots from the zoo on my flickr page were all shot with a polarizer.
Thank You!

I've always thought linear POL's seem to produce stronger effect than C-POL's. I recall using them back in the film days and how you could really see right into car & house windows on bright days. With the modern CPol's, there's almost always residual reflection. I still remember when Cir's came on the market...super expensive! Now, the opposite is true...trying to find Linear POL's for mFT use is like looking for Hen's teeth!
 

Cruzan80

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Try to find older used filters. I have found ones that are marked Pentax, Minolta, etc. that are Linear (before circular came out), seems to be the easiest way to find them (however sometimes they aren't marked).
 

yakky

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Perhaps I'm in the minority but if you just want to tame the sky in the middle of the day (my primary use), CPLs are fine, in fact anymore than a regular CPL tends to make the sky look over saturated.
 

Wasabi Bob

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Try to find older used filters. I have found ones that are marked Pentax, Minolta, etc. that are Linear (before circular came out), seems to be the easiest way to find them (however sometimes they aren't marked).
I have a few I purchased in the 70's from Spiratone (now I'm dating myself). I think they cost me ~ $8 ea and they work just great. Unfortunately, the largest one I bought was 58mm.
 

laser8

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Thank You!

I've always thought linear POL's seem to produce stronger effect than C-POL's. I recall using them back in the film days and how you could really see right into car & house windows on bright days. With the modern CPol's, there's almost always residual reflection. I still remember when Cir's came on the market...super expensive! Now, the opposite is true...trying to find Linear POL's for mFT use is like looking for Hen's teeth!
I've got the same impression. Lpl look like saturating more, but really hard to find. Foto mayr in Germany sells heliopan lpls, and if you can live with less coating layers, they're even cheaper than multi coated cpls.
 

ean10775

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I've got the same impression. Lpl look like saturating more, but really hard to find. Foto mayr in Germany sells heliopan lpls, and if you can live with less coating layers, they're even cheaper than multi coated cpls.
The two Heliopan polarizers I have are the Jet-Pol models (one linear one circular) and I believe they are only single coated. My local shop had some new old stock they were offloading for 90% off of list price which put them at something like $20 each. The nice thing about owning both is that they can also be stacked to make a poor man's variable ND filter (albeit certainly with with some IQ loss and color shift at extreme settings)
 

biomed

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If you are buying new get a multi-coated filter. Also pay attention to the mount. Cheap filters can get stuck on your lens. As a rule I do not over tighten filters on my lenses. When you have to grip a filter very hard the mount ring can distort and make the filter difficult to remove. A filter wrench can be a life saver. I was told by a fellow photographer that a $30 filter on a $500 lens turns it into a $30 lens.
 

biomed

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The point being that most lens manufacturers go to great lengths to design and multicoat their lenses for better light transmission and flare resistance. An uncoated not optically flat cheap filter can most certainly negate all that. Buy the best filter you can. It will pay off in the long run. To save money buy filters to fit your largest diameter lens and use adapter rings for your smaller diameter lenses. Good quality filters are not that expensive. The most I have paid for a polarizer is around $95. Newer filters are often resistant to scratching. My old Nikon filters from the 1970s seemed to be made of soft glass and scratched very easily.
 

MarkRyan

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Small detail I wish I'd considered before I bought a polarizer...

The "slim" polarizer don't have filter threads on the outer side. This means a typical lens cap doesn't fit in. My B+W polarizer is great, but because it's slim I have to use the crappy push-on cap that came with it. It falls off in my camera bag. If I bought another, I would not buy a slim polarizer filter. Just a regular one.
 

jonlong

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I use a Hoya Pro 1D with my 12-40 2.8. I've always liked polarizers for cutting the glare and improving color and saturation. More often than not, I am shooting during the day when the sun is up, so it helps control the light.

I also use it as an ND filter, since I don't have one.
 
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