An often neglected accessory, a CPL

tsk1979

Reclaimed and Recycled
On this forum, and many others, I have seen pictures of brilliant himalayas lacking the punch and contrast, esp in summer seasons due to haze.
Sure there are PP techniques for contrast etc., there is one filter, the effects of which can never be mimicked in any post processing software.
That Filter is the Circular Polarizer.
And its cheap. You get a 58mm for 800rs in Palika bazaar, and its nothing compared to the expensive lenses and bodies.
What does a CPL do?
I won't go into technical details, there is enough written on that subject and plenty of high school textbooks also cover polarized light etc.,
Search google and you will find tips how to use it etc., too.

I will instead focus on what it can do for a photographer.
1. It can increase contrast and cut through reflective haze
2. It can actually improve the percieved dynamic range
3. And most important, it can make your sky deep blue.
4. It can control unwanted reflections, making water bodies look better

Some pictures I will post here.
1. Contrast enhancement and haze killing

2. Deep blue sky and cloud standout

3.Sky again

4. More Sky

5. This photo demonstrates how with increasing polarizer effect(its maximum 90 degrees to sun, the sky darkens

6. This was taken in afternoon and yet it has such a surreal effect

7. See how hardly any reflections, and hence the blue ocean. Add the blue sky to that and effect is surreal

8. Reflections control. The polarizer is adjusted such that on the rear glass there are no reflections but on the side of the car there is no reflection curtailing

9. Another image with deep blue water, all thanks to polarizer!

10. No reflections on windscreen! Is it magic. No its the polarizer at work


So above you see 10 examples.
But there is no free lunch. Polarizer also robs you of 1-2 stops of slight. So in low light conditions its actually a bain. Moroever with city lights, any filter(even multi coated) will increase flare to an extent, so before those night shots, take it off.
In some cases you will also find that your camera will not focus as fast.
When using a very wide angle lens, your sky color may go from light blue at one end to dark blue at other , giving a very "fake" look. This is because the lens covers a wide angle, and polarization will be maximum 90 degrees to sun. Ditto for panaromas.

But all this is a small price to pay for the type of pics you can get if you invest in this humble filter.
 
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Yogesh Sarkar

Administrator
Tanveer nicely put, from the looks of it, CPL sure makes a lot of difference.

Ps. is the forth pic of Dal Lake near Dharamshala?
 

SKSy_Biker

Member
Filters!! Another way to spend money on camera! :)

CPL sure does make quite a loss in pictures, but at a cost. Some light is lost in the process (1-2 stops). I used to take a lot of pictures using it. But now I use it when I 'really' need to enhance the contrast of sky or cut reflection.

Recently I changed my lenses and with the better quality lenses I dont feel the need to use the CPL for contrast enhancement purposes. I also use B+W MRC UV Haze filter to cut out the haze. Expensive but does the job well.

That said, the utility of CPL cant be denied to cut of reflections and increase saturation. It needs to be used judiciously too. There are times when its not so effective or useful (say you are trying to increase the blue in the sky and the sun is not at the correct angle). Read up the details and use it wisely.

People interested may refer link below:
http://www.camerapedia.org/wiki/Polarizer

Though CPLs (and other filters) are available for cheap, I'd recommend to spend a little more and get quality filters. Its worth it.

Look for:
Hoya Pro / Kenko Pro (both from same manufacturer)
or if you are really crazy about german precision
B+W or Heliopan (Mind you these are 3-4 times more expensive than usual ones, I paid approx 3k just for B+W 67mm UV filter)

Another trick: Two CPLs stacked together can be used as variable ND filter. From almost 4 stops to infinity (theoretically atleast ;) ). I had tried it once and had interesting results. The quality was not so great though (probably because of lower quality CPL used).
 

jamal

New Member
great examples tanveer.
CPL, arguably is the most useful & dramatic filter used in photography. a lot of filters which were used so commonly in the film era are being replaced by "filters" in photoshop, but a polariser is still very difficult to duplicate if not impossible.
the added benefit of CPL as a natural density filter is also very useful.(as mentioned above already)
to buy a CPL is still relatively expensive and it is always better to invest in high quality glass. one shiuld buy the biggest sized CPL of high quality and use step - down rings to use it with lenses with smaller filter size. in this way one can use a good quality CPL with all the lenses one has.
@SKSy biker. while i have not used B+W MRC UV Haze filter so i may not be qualified to say this but i have found that UV filters seldom have a significant effect on the haze.
thanks and regards
jamal
 

tsk1979

Reclaimed and Recycled
Ditto here Jamal, I have not found UV/Haze filters to be of much use. But with the polarizer I have had some really good keeper pics.
A good quality Hoya CPL costs around 800rs, and a good quality lens is 30000rs(except for the 50mm F1.8.
When you are shooting through the windscreen of the car, a CPL is a must have because reflections on windscreen can kill some really interesting shots.
Since most of my shooting is with the 18-55kit lens, a CPL is a very valuable accessory for me.

When I went to Auto Expo, I found the CPL really valuable as many stalls had skewed lighting and ugly reflections.














 

hiambuj

Moderator
Staff member
Aaaaawwsome..You made these cars look better than what they actually are... :D Of course each one of these deserve this treatment which very few give them :D

The best one I had seen so far was this one :

merc.jpg

courtsey : Dolly (my friend from ooty)

cheers
 

hiambuj

Moderator
Staff member
Amit thats a fantastic photograph, does she have a public photo gallery?
Yogesh, she is from Pune presently pursuing PG in photography from Ooty.. Has worked for Infosys at Australia before this..

BTW, she is one of the participants in our Ladakh trip this year.. I expect i'll post some different views of Ladakh by her Lens for you guys.. Also there are two more excellent photographers in the same group... Sejal & Saurabh..
here are the links of all three..

WARNING : BEWARE, the pics you are going to see are nail biting... please use proper cover for your nails before clicking these links :) (atleast I rate them so)


Dolly : http://www.flickr.com/photos/colours2u
Sejal : http://www.flickr.com/photos/sejal1_5/
Saurabh : http://www.flickr.com/photos/sshandilya/ and http://community.webshots.com/user/techsaur
 

Salil

Super Moderator
Staff member
And while you guys were discussing about CPL, I was somewhere deep in Kinnaur, with the CPL mounted on my 18-55. :)

Anyway, more demos of the CPL effect here.
 
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