How best to use a polarizer?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by luminosity, Sep 2, 2008.

  1. luminosity macrumors 65816


    Jan 10, 2006
    I just picked up a polarizer for my 50mm 1.8 AF lens (though I have to use it on manual, as I've got a D40). Does anyone have some good advice on how to best use and take advantage of it?
  2. Phrasikleia macrumors 601


    Feb 24, 2008
    Over there------->
    There are lots of ways to take advantage of it. If ever you want control over reflections, the polarizer is a must. Sometimes you'll want to maximize reflections, for shots like this:


    While other times, you'll want to minimize reflections, like when you're shooting through glass:


    A polarizer is also great for getting very blue skies:


    And a polarizer is excellent for increasing the tonal range of very white or reflective surfaces, like snow, clouds, or marble:


    These are situations that usually get me to slap on a polarizer. Experiment for yourself and see what works for you! Enjoy!
  3. Abstract macrumors Penryn


    Dec 27, 2002
    Location Location Location
    Great explanation (and with photos!). :)

    Circular polarizers are great unless you have a wide-angle lens. They don't work well on my 12-24 mm Tokina, and leave uneven blue skies that appear like thick blue and light blue stripes in the sky. Ugly. I had some awesome photo ruined by those stripes. If I edit the sky, then it looks beautiful.
  4. DTD macrumors newbie

    Sep 2, 2008
    Remember that for polarisers to work, the light source has to be at right angles.

    They will cut out reflections in glass and water but not metal.

    They can also be used as neutral density filters and will to some extent cut down on haze. All in all a very useful filter.

    Sometimes if they are thick rimmed and used on very wide angle lenses they can cause vignetting.
  5. jhamerphoto macrumors regular

    Oct 26, 2007
    I don't think it could be put any better than the first response.

    Just to add one thing though, a circular polarizer can also be great for portraits, as it reduces the shine on faces, creating a more flattering, softer appearance. :D

    People often tend to forget that one haha
  6. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    Yes, this is true. You have to watch for this. The blue sky effect depends on the angle of the sun. It yu are shooting into the sun the effect is zero and it is maximum if the sun is to your back. What happens with a wide lens is that different parts of the sky are at differnt angles to the sun so the blue sky effect is more or less powerfull in difernt parts of the sky. This make the sky look noticably "fake".

    One more then not said yet should be obvious, you have to rotate the filter to control the amount of effect. At one setting the effect is maximized and at 90 degrees the effect will be zero witht efilter acting only as a weak neutral density filter. There are two things to remember (1) Take the filter off the lens if you don't really need it. It always forces a shower shutter, more blur. and (2) don't always go for the maximum effect, leave some reflection in and don't go for full-on purple skys, it looks fake. Rotate the filter so that only "enough" of the effect is achieved.

    Lenses that have filter ings that do not rotate when the lens focus are best. It is very anoying when the autofocus system interacts with your filter angle. Mst of my lenses do not have this problem but many do. I've learn to hold the filter edges to prevent it from turning. Hard to do this with a lens hood on.

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