photo by Koldunova_Anna via iStock
Circular polarizers allow your lens to take sharper images by lessening junk light and haze that enters the camera. They may seem old school with the advent of photo editing software but are still used by many professional photographers to reduce reflective light and improve image quality.
They are very popular among landscape photographers, and many swear by them and have them in their camera bags at all times.
Do you have questions about circular polarizers? We have the answers.
How Does a Circular Polarizer Work?
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Circular polarizers are filters that you screw onto the front of your lens to reduce glare, haze, and reflections. Once attached, you will be able to twist the front part of the filter to choose the amount of polarization you need and adjust it to your conditions.
These filters, when used properly, increase the depth and contrasts in your images. Colors are more vivid and vibrant when a circular polarizer is used. Skies are bright blue, clouds pop, and water is less reflective.
To use a circular polarizer correctly, you can’t be pointing your camera directly at the sun. You have to be perpendicular to the sun in order for the filter to do its magic.
Do I Really Need a Circular Polarizer? (Why Can't I just Photoshop it?)
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Yes, photo editing software can fix some of the problems encountered when shooting without a circular polarizer, but not all. And frankly, if you can get the shot right at the get-go, it’s a more gratifying sensation. Also, you can see the effect instantly when using a polarizing filter — no need to wait to get to your computer to “fix” it.
Photo editing is time-consuming and can get tedious. Sometimes it is absolutely necessary, and other times it can be avoided by getting the shot right, straight from the camera.
Another benefit of using a circular polarizer is that it will get you thinking and being more conscious about light. And we all know how light is important in photography. When you understand light better, you become a better photographer. It’s that simple!
photo by max-kegfire via iStock
Editors Tip: Did you know? Some portrait photographers use polarizers when photographing someone with glasses. A circular polarizer can reduce the reflections in the lenses and can also help matte shiny skin.
Can I Leave a Circular Polarizer on all the Time?
It’s not recommended that you leave a polarizing filter on all the time. It’s intended for specific purposes and will not be helpful (and actually bad) for some types of photography.
A circular polarizer filter removes about 1.5 stops of light from the shot. This is not something that you want in low light conditions, for example.
How Do I Choose a Circular Polarizer?
Quality and prices vary for polarizers, like in many other gear categories in the photography industry. The old adage “you get what you pay for” applies here too.
We like the Haida M10 Filter Kit for its quality, durability, and versatility. The filter kit is designed to allow the use of up to three separate 100mm wide, 2mm thick filters. It can be fitted on a lens with 82mm front filter threads and comes with an included circular polarizer.