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Carlton Ward
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/13/2005
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Circular Polarizer Filters


How much difference do circular polarizer filters make when shooting landscape/outdoor pictures? I currently have UV filters on my 17-40mm or my 100-400mm L lenses for protection, but read that the circular polarizers add richness of color and contrast with clouds and sky images. How much difference is there between the B&W brand and the Hoya?


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12/31/2006 2:31:30 PM

 
Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/17/2005
  Well, actually, polarizing filters cut glare and reflections by polarizing the light source, usually sunlight. Color-enhancing filters, like 81 series, provide richer colors.
The problem using polarizers to do that is they tend to block up the shadow details by making them much darker and if your meter isn't reading the lighting correctly, you'll probably start getting underexposures because polarizers tend to fool built-in matrix meters.
As for using UV filters for lens protectors, you're really much better off to use a lens hood or compendium shade. UV filters are to filter out UV light at high altitudes. Yes I know, I know, you need to put something to protect your lens. This is pretty much of a myth, probably started by the guys at Tiffen or Hoya to sell more UV filters.
And, by the way, you probably wouldn't notice any appreciable difference between B+W or Hoya or Tiffen. While the glass in B+W is probably Schott optical glass, where you'd see a difference is in the brass rings B+W uses that makes them expand and contract less in cold weather shooting, thus less prone to getting stuck on a lens.
If you want richness in clouds, get either a Sky Blue or neutral density series or combinations of both. In fact, given the size of your lenses, I recommend that you just get a resin system, like a Hitech, Lee, Sailwind, a Cokin P???? (maybe), etc., and a universal filter holder that has a 77mm ring. Then you can stack multiple resins (which are excellent these days), and play with their effect. But a polarizer ain't what you need unless you've got flare or glare. The effect you want is a secondary effect with a polarizer, not its primary purpose, and lose the UV filters for a lot of reasons including the fact that added glass without any utility tends to cause more problems than it solves.
Also, the coatings of modern lenses are pretty resiliant from scratches, and the gaskets help prevent dust and grit from entering the lens itself. Just clean it when it gets dirty. If your lens suffers an impact because you carried it carelessly and the impact was strong enough to shatter the UV filter, chances are it would have been sufficient to shatter the outer lens element anyway.
Take it light and Happy New Year ;>).
Mark


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12/31/2006 4:33:29 PM

 
Carlton Ward
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/13/2005
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  Thank you Mark,
You answered another question I had with using a filter at all. It does seem a little silly to pay for quality lens and then stick another optic in front of it. I always use my lens hoods anyway. I also do like shadow details and want to get the best photos I can without having to tweak them in PS.
I have read a lot of these threads for information and you are so Knowledgeable and enthusiastic to share with everyone. You should be on BP's payroll. I will consider the resin system or other filter options but for now, I am happy to be more minimalist and try to get the best exposure I can with what I have. We have a natural filter here in Seattle area anyway with so many overcast days.
Thank you again Mark and have a Happy New Year.


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12/31/2006 5:47:34 PM

 
Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/17/2005
  My pleasure Carlton and thanks for your well-wishes. Oh and I'll pass that suggestion on to BP. If you get into resin, let me know. My preference is Hitech but I'm a bit biased since I helped the guy who started the company, a British fellow named Andrew Skilling, test the system way back when. I like it a lot, especially the blue grads and color enhancers. Here's a link to one Hitech distributor web site. Alan Green's actually, who's a good guy and prices are pretty reasonable but I think you can do better at B&H.
http://www.visualdepartures.com/mainfram.html

Oh and BTW, I know what yo mean. My sister lives on Bainbridge and works in Seattle. Yep !! She thinks if they don't sell it at REI Coop or Nordstrom Rack then no one needs it.

Well, I guess I gotta go celebrate or something.

You're welcome again and best to you and yours too Carlton. Be well, be happy and prosperous in the coming yearS. Mark


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12/31/2006 6:05:05 PM

 
She-She Killough
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  I must say Mark is a wealth of information and a great help all the time!! :) But I would differ on one point from personal experience... maybe I am just in crazier places where things can be a little more treacherous as you go but twice many years apart once in Lebanon and the other time in Iraq while shooting Saddam's palace I tripped and the UV lens was destroyed but my lens was saved because that lens cover took the impact and there was not a scratch on my actual lens. I can't tell you how thankful I was and how much money that saved me!!($1,200 and $1,600) I will always be in favor of a UV lens not because of the UV but because it has saved me twice now. Accidents do happen no matter how careful you are sometimes. Just my thoughts. :) But I would always agree with you that Mark is a great help to everyone and give generously of his wealth of knowlege and we are all thankful for that!!! Happy New Year!


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1/2/2007 7:44:21 AM

 
W.    Rule of thumb:
don't stack filters!
Use only one at a time.
(Unless they're ND filters).


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1/2/2007 7:50:40 AM

 
Carlton Ward
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/13/2005
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  Wow, She-She,
What a great gallery - I am in awe of Bailey - she is beautiful. Thank you for sharing your experience with using the filter as a protective piece - so maybe I should keep mine on since a I am usually trekking through the forest & rough terrains and the possibility is increased that a fall or drop of my $1600 lens could easily happen.
The really weird thing is that I have had to remove my filter to clean both filter & lens as little particles of dust some how get into the space between them ????


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1/2/2007 8:05:03 AM

 
She-She Killough
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  Well Thank you Carlton, you are too kind! And I agree with you about Bailey she IS a beauty both inside and out.
I have had to remove my UV filter to clean between them every so often also...not sure why that is..it does seem weird doesn't it. But to me a small price to pay although seemingly stange how dust can get between them.


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1/2/2007 8:10:18 AM

 
Stephen J. Dyer   I would keep the UV filters.
I use my camera in pretty inhospitable places, climbing over rocks, walking through bush, salt spray, dust storms, etc. and over the last 2 years have a number of small scratches on my UV filters. These would have been on my lens if the filters were not in place.
We had an SLR at work for general employee use for about 10 years, would have been used about once or twice a week, a couple of years back (pre digital) I thought I would give it a clean up, you ought have seen the scratches in the UV filter, it was totally covered in fine scratches, mostly likely from incorrect cleaning.


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1/15/2007 3:45:41 PM

 
Oliver Anderson
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/16/2004
  Hey Carlton, I enjoy reading Mark's reply's since he's much more knowledgeable about photography than I am. That being said I think that in certain circumstances a UV filter is a benefitial insurance policy. I mentioned previously that while photographing the Nascar Race at Las Vegas Motorspeedway last year a rock was kicked up off the track and shattered my UV on my Canon 17-40L. The filter was a Heliopan and cost about $100 but it saved the lens. I've got the filters on all my lenses since I shoot motorsports and at the beach often. So I would have to say I think they're worth the money in certain circumstances (one thing to remember is that my 17-40L, 24-70 2.8 & 70-200 2.8IS are all 77MM). Lastly, She-She I need your address cause I want to move next door to you and date the neighbor.JK


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1/15/2007 10:18:41 PM

 
She-She Killough
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  LOL Oliver get in line!!


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1/15/2007 11:11:31 PM

 
Carlton Ward
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/13/2005
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  Laka Sammamish, Wa
Laka Sammamish, Wa
1/160, f/5.6, iso100, 100mm
© Carlton Ward
carltonwardphoto.com
Canon EOS 20D Digi...
 
 
I agree with all of the responses in that when I am out hiking through rough terrain or potentially hazardous conditions I will keep my filters on but if at home or shooting in a safe environment, I will take them off. Also, when shooting pics of the moon I noticed that with a filter on, it creates a halo/double image but with the filter off - the image is clear.
I have a lot to learn about filters in general which is why I asked about the circular polarizer. I like Mark's explanation about a HiTech/Resin system but for now I have my hands full with 2 classes I am currently taking. Its snowing again here in Redmond, Wa - so I am going to go out and take a few pictures - with filters on in case I slip and fall. Thanks Everyone.


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1/16/2007 8:48:21 AM

 
Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/17/2005
  Hey Carlton.
I honestly think that the only good thing about keeping a filter in place while walking in the forest during a snow storm or in rough terrain is to keep the external lens surface dry or less wet. But ultimately, something is going to need to be cleaned off and dryed.

I think the double reflection you got looking at the moon was probably between the external filter and lens glass.

Glad I could help out rather than confuse you. As far as Hitech goes, it's nice from a number of standpoints particularly its versatility, using one holder and one set of filters on all your lenses by just changing out the holder mounting ring. Also saves big dough on buying the same filters of different sizes for different lenses.

Walk safely and carry a big monopod. ;>)
Mark



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1/16/2007 10:04:49 AM

 
Patricia A. Moulton  
 
 
Couldn't you use a circular polarizer as a substitute for the UV filter as protection for your lens? Wouldn't it amount to the same thing as far as protection or am I missing something here?
Thank you for your help! I've checked out your galleries and you are all awesome photographers.


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2/21/2007 12:05:32 PM

 
Carlton Ward
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/13/2005
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  MurHut Falls upper
MurHut Falls upper
1.3s, f/13, iso100, 34mm, circular polarizer & tripod
© Carlton Ward
carltonwardphoto.com
Canon EOS 20D Digi...
 
 
Hi Patricia, I ended up getting a circular polarizer as I wanted to shoot waterfalls with a slower shutter speed. The UV filter is designed to cut down the UV rays from the sun while the polarizer does similar, it also rotates to cut down glare & reflection while also allowing more coloration to come through. It also stops down 2 stops. Here is one of the pics I recently took with the circular polarizer.


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2/21/2007 12:27:35 PM

 
Patricia A. Moulton   The reason I ask is that I bought UV filters to protect my lenses when I bought a new camera. However, I recently purchased a circular polarizer and put it on WITH the UV filter. Wow. Things were very dark indeed. I live in San Diego and things are very bright here what with all the water and sunlight and bright skies. I think a polarizer is necessary for outdoor pictures, especially those taken in mid-day. Should I just take off those UV filters? Will I get better pictures? I haven't had much time for experimentation because I'm working a lot right now and am not able to get outside much during the day. I did get outdoors during my lunch yesterday and took some shots with both filters on and had to increase the ISO in order to get a decent picture. Now I'm thinking I should have just removed the UV filter. Let me know what you think please.

Carlton, your waterfall pics are great! I like the fact the trees have kept their natural color.

Patricia


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2/21/2007 12:50:16 PM

 
W.    "Couldn't you use a circular polarizer as a substitute for the UV filter as protection for your lens? "

Indeed you could, Patricia. All glass acts as a UV filter (so adding a UV filter on top of a - glass - CP is useless; worse: it adds 2 more glass surfaces (both sides), increasing refraction and flare).

BUT: 1) using a circular polarizer can cost you upto 2.5 stops of light (neccessitating much wider apertures, or much slower shutter speeds), and 2) a CP is actually TWO filters, so it adds FOUR more glass surfaces (front and back of each), increasing refraction and flare even more....

I.o.w. use a UV filter in high-UV situations (bright sunlight and clean air, like at sea, on the beach, or at altitude). OR use a CP, which cuts UV just as well. DON'T use both, stacked.

BTW, UV filters have no F-stop penalty. So adding your UV filter on top of your CP was NOT the cause for even darker pictures. Must've been something else. Like the way you turned the front element of the CP.


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2/22/2007 10:16:07 AM

 
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