Nothing enlivens outdoor shots like polarising filters do. They’re the secret to making colours and contrast pop; with a polarising filter, you can turn washed-out skies brilliant blue and mirrorlike water crystal clear. If you shoot outdoors, be it buildings or nature, a polariser will help give you that postcard-worthy or brochure-ready look in an instant.
CameraPro stocks a wide range of sizes and styles of linear and circular polarising filters from leading brands like B+W, Hoya, and Lee Filters.
Most commonly used in landscape and architectural photography, polarising (or polarizing) filters—aka polarisers—have a variety of beneficial effects, some of which can’t be simulated using software:
- Suppress glare
- Reduce distracting reflections from non-metallic surfaces, e.g. glass or water, and make them transparent
- Produce more saturated (i.e. less washed out) colours – particularly noticeable in water and sky, as well as foliage
- Enhance contrast
When light reflects off a non-metallic surface (e.g. glass or water) it becomes polarised – i.e. all the reflected light waves vibrate in the same direction. The result is perceived as glare.
Like polarised sunglasses, polarising filters for camera lenses are designed to filter out light waves that cause glare, while filtering in ambient light. So your camera sees the scene as it is, minus the glare.
It’s worth noting that polarisers decrease exposure by a small amount (up to 1 ⅔ stops).
You can also combine a polariser with a standard or graduated ND filter to get the benefits of both. Just be aware of any extra effect this will have on exposure.
There are two varieties of polarising light filter: linear and circular. Both have the same effect of enhancing colours and reducing glare, but they differ in important ways.
Patterned with minute parallel lines, linear polarisers selectively block light waves of a particular orientation in order to reduce glare. However, linear polarisers can confuse autofocus metering systems and cause problems in cameras that contain mirrors (i.e. SLRs and DSLRs) so they’re best used with mirrorless, manual focus cameras.
Circular polarisers consist of two elements: a linear polariser and a ‘quarter wave plate’. To polarise the light, you rotate the outer ring until you get the desired effect. Once the light passes through the linear polariser, the quarter wave plate relays the light to the sensor in a circular pattern. This prevents the problems caused by standard linear polarisers, making circular polarising filters suitable for cameras that use autofocus (i.e. most digital cameras) and cameras that contain mirrors (i.e. SLRs).
Like all filters, polarised lens filters vary drastically and proportionately in price and quality. Cheap filters tend to be poorly made from inferior materials; as a result, they negatively affect image quality and are more likely to get stuck on your lens, or damaged.
To avoid this, make sure you buy polarising filters that are of high quality. Good polarisers made by the likes of Hoya or B+W are not only optically superior but also more durable and less prone to jamming or damage.
As an authorised Australian stockist, CameraPro carries only genuine products with full manufacturer warranties.
Check out our range of camera lens filters—from screw-in styles to the wide selection of Lee Filters kits and components—in store or contact our team of photographers for helpful, reliable advice.