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Polarizer filter: Hoya HD or Pro1?

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I have to change polarizer filter for my Nikon lenses and my choice is going to Hoya as B+W looks too expensive for me.

Top line polarizer filters in Hoya are HD and Pro1. Beside the price (HD is slightly more expensive) what's the difference between them and which one would you recommend? 

 

Stefano

 

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My sincere recommendation, Stefano, would be to take that polarizer money and have a nice lunch. I think your collection looks very good indeed, as is. And I see you have many attractive blue skies. Would you rather have somewhat sinister grey skies? And do you really have a great need to get rid of reflections? How about using them creatively, instead? Or moving onto the next image? 

 

Edo

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Right on Edo. In the digital age there is no need for polarizers.

 

It looks like Stefano is already using a polarizer, but to his disadvantage. On a wide angle shot with cross lighting, he is getting unnatural skies with bright corners and heavy blue polarized centres.

 

Light blue, dark blue, grey blue all in one sky. Looks unnatural. Here is one here.

 

scenic-landscape-view-in-springtime-near

 

Stefano take Edo's advice and save your money and 2 F stops.

Edited by Bill Brooks
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Using manual focus lenses I can get away with using a circular polarising filter. They are not very much in demand and so very cheap secondhand. Worth carrying in my view, even if only used sparingly. Mine's a Hoya and it's fit for purpose.

 

I don't pretend to understand the technology, but do mirror-less cameras use the same technology as SLRs when focusing? It's possible that a circular polariser will be compatible with the mirror-less autofocus system?

 

Back in film days I recall taking a shot along the Mosel valley in Germany, rotating the filter, and being amazed at the transformation of the scene. I still use that image as the backdrop on my computer.

 

As Bill pointed out they do absorb a lot of light light, but, occasionally, that's an advantage.

 

Edit - Wrong type of polariser, see post below!

Edited by Bryan

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Right on Edo. In the digital age there is no need for polarizers.
 
It looks like Stefano is already using a polarizer, but to his disadvantage. On a wide angle shot with cross lighting, he is getting unnatural skies with bright corners and heavy blue polarized centres.
 
Light blue, dark blue, grey blue all in one sky. Looks unnatural. Here is one here.
 
scenic-landscape-view-in-springtime-near
 
Stefano take Edo's advice and save your money and 2 F stops.

 

 

Wow, I missed that one, Bill. It must be one of those awkward, old-time graduation filters . . . mounted in the wrong position. In the film age I used filters. Now I use LR and PS. 

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There is a bewildering range of polarising fllters produced by Hoya (and Kenko which is the same company but a little more expensive). I thought I might figure out the differences by having a look at their website but I'm not a lot clearer. Basically what you probably want in a polariser is good glass, a quality coating, good light transmission (doesn't block too much light), neutral for colour and thin to prevent vignetting. I've been using Kenko Zeta for a while and they are very good (thin and neutral), but a bit more expensive than the Hoyas. I would suggest you email or ring WEX customer services http://www.wexphotographic.com as the guys there are very knowledgeable and they sell all of them so should be able to tell you what the differences are.

Edited by MDM
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Using manual focus lenses I can get away with using a circular polarising filter. They are not very much in demand and so very cheap secondhand. Worth carrying in my view, even if only used sparingly. Mine's a Hoya and it's fit for purpose.

 

I don't pretend to understand the technology, but do mirror-less cameras use the same technology as SLRs when focusing?  It's possible that a circular polariser will be compatible with the mirror-less autofocus system?

 

Back in film days I recall taking a shot along the Mosel valley in Germany, rotating the filter, and being amazed at the transformation of the scene. I still use that image as the backdrop on my computer.

 

As Bill pointed out they do absorb a lot of light light, but, occasionally, that's an advantage. 

 

I have a circular polarizer from film days that works fine on the NEX-6 with my Sony lenses. If you're using vintage manual focus lenses, you might (?) need an old non-circular polarizing filter. I thought that the circular ones were designed for AF only. I believe that traditional DSLRs have phase detection AF. The NEX-6 has both contrast detect and phase detection AF with Sony lenses, but you would only be limited to contrast detect with MF lenses. It's all very confusing.

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Using manual focus lenses I can get away with using a circular polarising filter. They are not very much in demand and so very cheap secondhand. Worth carrying in my view, even if only used sparingly. Mine's a Hoya and it's fit for purpose.

 

I don't pretend to understand the technology, but do mirror-less cameras use the same technology as SLRs when focusing?  It's possible that a circular polariser will be compatible with the mirror-less autofocus system

 

 

I have a circular polarizer from film days that works fine on the NEX-6 with my Sony lenses. If you're using vintage manual focus lenses, you might (?) need an old non-circular polarizing filter. I thought that the circular ones were designed for AF only. I believe that traditional DSLRs have phase detection AF. The NEX-6 has both contrast detect and phase detection AF with Sony lenses, but you would only be limited to contrast detect with MF lenses. It's all very confusing.

You're quite right John, I've got the polarity of the polarisers the wrong way around. The older ones are linear, and that's what I use with my older lenses. Must learn not to post after a trip to the pub!

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Using manual focus lenses I can get away with using a circular polarising filter. They are not very much in demand and so very cheap secondhand. Worth carrying in my view, even if only used sparingly. Mine's a Hoya and it's fit for purpose.

 

I don't pretend to understand the technology, but do mirror-less cameras use the same technology as SLRs when focusing?  It's possible that a circular polariser will be compatible with the mirror-less autofocus system

 

I have a circular polarizer from film days that works fine on the NEX-6 with my Sony lenses. If you're using vintage manual focus lenses, you might (?) need an old non-circular polarizing filter. I thought that the circular ones were designed for AF only. I believe that traditional DSLRs have phase detection AF. The NEX-6 has both contrast detect and phase detection AF with Sony lenses, but you would only be limited to contrast detect with MF lenses. It's all very confusing.

You're quite right John, I've got the polarity of the polarisers the wrong way around. The older ones are linear, and that's what I use with my older lenses. Must learn not to post after a trip to the pub!

 

 

No problem. The world always looks non-linear (and rosier) through the bottom of a beer glass. B)

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I invested in a Canon polarising filter a few years ago for over £100 and have virtually never used it....

 

Kumar

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I have a 72mm Pro1 digital circ pol that has sat in a drawer for years and years........ open to offers

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Guys, you mean to say I'a the ONLY ONE to use a polarizer????!  :mellow:

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I use to be a big fan of polarizer filters. I started to remove it from my wide lens and since some years ago even from my tele lens. As it is already commented here in this digital era I do not see the reason to use it. I have even removed all filters.

 

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Guys, you mean to say I'a the ONLY ONE to use a polarizer????!  :mellow:

Could be.

I use mine for fish-spotting nowadays. You can get a sky to deep blue with the LR grad, especially from RAW. There might be the odd occasion when you need to see through a reflection.

Edited by spacecadet

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Guys, you mean to say I'a the ONLY ONE to use a polarizer????!  :mellow:

 

No. I do too and posted above (maybe it's hidden in the array of anti-polariser responses). There are other uses of polarisers besides making blue skies stand out against clouds - e.g. removing reflections in water. They also help with heat haze - a frequent problem in Spain in my experience.

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Guys, you mean to say I'a the ONLY ONE to use a polarizer????!  :mellow:

 

 They also help with heat haze -

 

I didn't know that one, probably because I live in England- but it's a cracking tip as I once had a fail for heat haze. Thanks for it.

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Guys, you mean to say I'a the ONLY ONE to use a polarizer????!  :mellow:

Could be.

I use mine for fish-spotting nowadays. You can get a sky to deep blue with the LR grad, especially from RAW. There might be the odd occasion when you need to see through a reflection.

 

 

The grad filter in Lightroom is an excellent substitute for an ND grad filter but it doesn't do the same job as a polariser. The effect is graduated decreasing inwards from the edge. A polariser gives an even darkening (of course the sky itself may not be even which does give that unpleasant effect shown in Bill's awful image.

Edited by MDM
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Guys, you mean to say I'a the ONLY ONE to use a polarizer????!  :mellow:

 

 They also help with heat haze -

 

I didn't know that one, probably because I live in England- but it's a cracking tip as I once had a fail for heat haze. Thanks for it.

 

 

Help is the operative word here- not remove - similar to polarising sunglasses.

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Right on Edo. In the digital age there is no need for polarizers.
 
It looks like Stefano is already using a polarizer, but to his disadvantage. On a wide angle shot with cross lighting, he is getting unnatural skies with bright corners and heavy blue polarized centres.
 
Light blue, dark blue, grey blue all in one sky. Looks unnatural. Here is one here.
 
scenic-landscape-view-in-springtime-near
 
Stefano take Edo's advice and save your money and 2 F stops.

 

 

 

 

Well, you are right. Definitely, not one of my best images but having sold really everything here in Alamy I didn't care too much about uploading it. Anyway, I am not going anymore to use polarizer with late sunset light! :-)

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Right on Edo. In the digital age there is no need for polarizers.
 
It looks like Stefano is already using a polarizer, but to his disadvantage. On a wide angle shot with cross lighting, he is getting unnatural skies with bright corners and heavy blue polarized centres.
 
Light blue, dark blue, grey blue all in one sky. Looks unnatural. Here is one here.
 
scenic-landscape-view-in-springtime-near
 
Stefano take Edo's advice and save your money and 2 F stops.

 

 

 

 

Well, you are right. Definitely, not one of my best images but having sold really everything here in Alamy I didn't care too much about uploading it. Anyway, I am not going anymore to use polarizer with late sunset light! :-)

 

Sorry. I thought it was Bill's picture. He obviously chose it deliberately to demonstrate the worst effects of an unevenly polarised sky. This effect is worst with a wideangle lens and a cloudless sky. Nice clouds are essential and a slightly longer lens (such as a 50) helps.

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There is another use for polariser filters that LR and PS would (as far as I know, anyway) struggle to replicate.

 

They can cut down reflections on foliage, which has the effect of deepening the colour. The bits of foliage which have reflections aren't affected by HSL sliders so the effect is slightly better (usually) with a filter IMHO

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Here’s a little tip for darkening blue skies in Lightroom or ACR which gives an effect very similar to a polariser (doesn’t work in Photoshop). In the develop module, go to the HSL tab, select luminance and lower the luminance of the blue. Optionally open the saturation tab and increase the saturation. Settings can be saved as presets for future use,

If the clouds have a blue hue, which is generally undesirable, then first of all check that the white balance of the non-sky area is to taste, then add a grad filter and increase the colour temperature of the grad to remove blue hue from clouds. It doesn’t work for all images and can result in a noticable white line at the boundary with the blue sky but it does work for a lot of images.

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There is another use for polariser filters that LR and PS would (as far as I know, anyway) struggle to replicate.

 

They can cut down reflections on foliage, which has the effect of deepening the colour. The bits of foliage which have reflections aren't affected by HSL sliders so the effect is slightly better (usually) with a filter IMHO

 I agree, I thought of this after my earlier post and meant to add it. Polarisers increase colour saturation in general, particularly on objects which produce reflections - flowers as well.

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I think polarizer users should read this:

 


 

A polarizer will give even sky if the sun is at high noon, and the camera is pointed straight ahead.

 

At other angles, of sun and camera, the sky will be uneven. I rarely shoot at high noon, so most of my skies would be uneven.

 

The second thing that happens is that a polarizer brings the luminance values between colors closer together. For instance if you are photographing a green tree against a polarized blue sky the colours would be different, but the luminance values between sky and tree would end up the same. If you want the tree to stand out as much as possible against the sky, then you should have both the colour and luminance values different.

 

I no longer use a polarizer to remove distant haze in landscape photography. Leonardo Da Vinci, in his notebooks, advises adding a bit of light blue haze to distant hills. In landscape you are converting a 3D subject to a 2D plane. Distant haze adds perspective to help preserve the 3D look on the 2D plane. That haze on distant hills is a distance clue to your brain.

 

In film days a polarizer was useful for boosting saturation and darkening light blue skies. I had a set of B&W polarizers plus a lot of Koken filters.

 

If you use filters you are putting an extra element in your lens. The lens was not designed for the extra filter element. In the age of 50 megapixel digital cameras the lens degradation will show.

 

In the digital age you can simulate any filter effect in post processing, with more control, and without the disadvantages noted above.

 

I use my old filters as screw in lens caps. I opaque out the filter with masking tape so I will not accidentally shoot through it. Other than using a ND filter for a slower shutter speed, shooting through a filter does not make sense to me. 

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I think polarizer users should read this:
 
 
A polarizer will give even sky if the sun is at high noon, and the camera is pointed straight ahead.
 
At other angles, of sun and camera, the sky will be uneven. I rarely shoot at high noon, so most of my skies would be uneven.
 
The second thing that happens is that a polarizer brings the luminance values between colors closer together. For instance if you are photographing a green tree against a polarized blue sky the colours would be different, but the luminance values between sky and tree would end up the same. If you want the tree to stand out as much as possible against the sky, then you should have both the colour and luminance values different.
 
I no longer use a polarizer to remove distant haze in landscape photography. Leonardo Da Vinci, in his notebooks, advises adding a bit of light blue haze to distant hills. In landscape you are converting a 3D subject to a 2D plane. Distant haze adds perspective to help preserve the 3D look on the 2D plane. That haze on distant hills is a distance clue to your brain.
 
In film days a polarizer was useful for boosting saturation and darkening light blue skies. I had a set of B&W polarizers plus a lot of Koken filters.
 
If you use filters you are putting an extra element in your lens. The lens was not designed for the extra filter element. In the age of 50 megapixel digital cameras the lens degradation will show.
 
In the digital age you can simulate any filter effect in post processing, with more control, and without the disadvantages noted above.
 
I use my old filters as screw in lens caps. I opaque out the filter with masking tape so I will not accidentally shoot through it. Other than using a ND filter for a slower shutter speed, shooting through a filter does not make sense to me. 

 

 

 

Good article that Bill - thanks. I think it's worth continuing this as you make some valid points but nothing you have said there is going to dissuade me from using polarisers. At least what you say is rational and backed up, even if what it is not necessarily correct to my mind. Anyway I'm not trying to convince you. I'm just giving the opposite argument for its own sake. So on we go.

 

Firstly, even blue sky is only really important if there are no clouds as I said somewhere back there. When there is cloud, the undesirable effects of uneven polarisation can be vastly reduced or become insignificant. And shooting in the middle of the day is not necessarily  a bad thing depending on the weather, the time of year and what you are actually shooting.

 

Secondly on haze, I  would rather be able to see distant detail than haze. I was out today in the mountains and very aware of the effects of using the polariser or not. Not only does it improve hazy sky by darkening the blue patches against the clouds, it also improves distant mountain detail. The effects were quite noticeable and the polarised version was by far the better. My interest was in capturing detail in the mountainside.

 

Thirdly, a polariser is still useful in the digital age for boosting saturation and darkening blue skies. That has not changed. Why leave this to post-processing which is not only more time consuming but also frequently not as accurate? And it is not always possible to simulate the effects of a polarised capture - e.g. very light clouds will probably remain invisible. In particular, most reflections are impossible to remove in PP. The reflection-free version has to be captured by the camera. I have no problem with post-processing and I do quite a bit but I prefer to capture what I can in camera. 

 

Fourthly, the effects of using a high quality clean filter are absolutely negligible. I’ve tested this out many times (to 36MP and very close scrutiny) and found no difference between filtered and non-filtered images  all else being equal. The only thing to watch for is flare when shooting into the light if high quality multi-coated filters are used. As for 50MP cameras, I don’t think it is the filters Canon users are going to have to worry about, it’s the lenses. This is certainly the case with the Nikon 36MP cameras which I’ve been using since they arrived. Lenses that were more than adequate at 12MP were found wanting at 36MP. Perhaps there will be a rapid migration to Zeiss by Canon users but filters will be the least of their worries.

 

Fifthly, besides the desired optical effects, using a filter worth £100 on a lens worth £1000 makes a great deal of sense to me. It keeps the lens clean and protects from scratches, salt air etc and has no negative effect on image quality. I don’t buy this idea that modern lenses are so well built and coated that a bit of sand or seaspray will have no effect.

 

Finally, high quality modern polarisers (e.g Kenko Zeta) lose around a stop which is nothing to worry me. They are very thin and cause no noticeable vignetting.

Edited by MDM
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