The Benefits (and Limitations) of a Circular Polarizer Filter

Here's a good video from Dave Dugdale on the what a Circular Polarizer filter can (and can't) do. Polarizers are terrific for very specific conditions -- deepening blue skies, reducing glare on reflective surfaces like water or glass -- but they're less universal than an ND filter (or, as I mention in the guide, a variable ND). Check out the polarizer filter in action, shot with a Canon T2i:

[via FilmmakerIQ]

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In the photoworld, it's well known that the polarizer is only about 1 stop from brightest to darkest.

May 8, 2011 at 5:02PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


The polarizing filter is also well known to reduce flares and reflections, and to augment image contrasts. In film animation under the camera, the lens filter is used in combination with polarizing sheets suspended in front of the spot lights.

May 11, 2011 at 9:57AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

Jean Th

Although it doesn't always work like with the 90° angle to the sun, I find a polarizer pretty useful for outdoor shots. You'll need the highest quality polarizer that you can get, because 1. it has a better polarizing effect than a cheap one, and 2. when the glass is high quality coated, you can leave it on even when it has almost no effect, and it still won't degrade your picture.

I was in egyt two years ago, shooting a golf tournament, and because it was an eng gig, I never had time to change filters - so I just left the cpl on the lens all the time and I did not regret it.
Even when I was at near 180° angle to the sun, I found the contrast/colors were improved (when you can cut reflections on grass, the grass will look greener, too!).
In the worst case, shooting directly into the sun, it didn't degrade my picture - the flares were a little more than without the cpl glass, but they looked pretty good.

I also keep my cpl on constantly when I take stills in the mountains on a skiing trip, or in similar bright situations with direct sunlight and some blue skies.

So, in my opinion a cpl is a bit more useful and more versatile than the video suggests.

May 12, 2011 at 3:57PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


@Heiko and the others

Which brand do you recommend for a good Quality CP?

I have a Hoya UV .... I am searching for a good CP but I don't know if hoya will be one of the best

October 6, 2011 at 1:50PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


Here's two places which a CPL can be very useful. When there is a monitor in the scene either computer or TV and the brightness of the monitor is blown out. Using a CPL you can easily dial the monitor brightness to any level you want without changing the level of the rest of the scene. The other is reflections off a bald head. My client calls it the "bald filter".

December 18, 2012 at 8:33AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM