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How to use a circular polarizer?

Julio Mendoza , Jul 12, 2006; 11:26 p.m.

I do not wish to know how the polarizer works, but how to make use of it. Specially in a film camera.

I have the film Minolta Maxxum 5, and film Maxxum 7. My 28-80 (D) lens has already the UV filter attached to it. My circular polarizer is CRYSTAL-OPTICS 55mm JAPAN.

I understand the polarizer is for outdoors/landscape in a bright sunny day, and one of its purposes is to saturate the colors in the photograph.

1 Screw the polarizer on the front of the lens.

2 Frame and focus your subject.

3 Rotate the polarizer (right or left it dosen't matter) until you see the sky turns blue (through the viewfinder).

4 Fire away.

Is that right?

Please help; I want to make sure I am using it in the right/proper way, and whether I should remove the UV filter or not when using the polarizer.

Thanks.

Responses

Michael R. Freeman , Jul 12, 2006; 11:31 p.m.

"... and whether I should remove the UV filter or not when using the polarizer."

Remove the UV filter before mounting the polarizer (for numerous reasons).

Meryl Arbing , Jul 12, 2006; 11:32 p.m.

The polarizer can deepen colors as you say. It is most effective if you point your shoulder to the sun so you are shooting at 90 degrees to the light.

The polarizer also has the ability to cut through glare on glass and water. (It doesn't do anything for glare off metal.) So you can see behind windows that would ordinarily bee obscured by reflections and you will be able to see beneath the surface of the water.

If the UV filter AND the polarizer are too thick, it might end up vignetting (darkening the corners) of your shots.

Ted Adamczyk , Jul 13, 2006; 12:13 a.m.

Note that all filters reduce the amount of light entering a camera, thus the polarizer will reduce light intensity by up to two (2) stops, depending upon the degree of rotation on the lens. If you use a hand-held meter, remember to factor this in. Filter factors should be available with the information that you received with your polarizing filter. With TTL, this will be automatically be taken cared of.

A mentioned above, the filter will enable colors to become more saturated, offering improved contrast.

Sean De Merchant , Jul 13, 2006; 12:19 a.m.

Change 3 to:

3) Rotate the polarizer until you like what you see best.

And then you have it. Polarizers can be used to cut haze, increase haze, cut glare off water, cut glare of vegetation, ...

Blue skies are just a start.

enjoy,

Sean

Zach Ritter , Jul 13, 2006; 07:03 p.m.

Umm....I beg to disagree about the glare off of metal comment. I was shooting a car show recently, and you can definatly tell the glare was cut with a polarizer. In fact, it will cut any light (glare or not) that hits the elements in a certain fashion. Really, to understand it you need to know the physics behind it.

But yes, if you don't want to know the science behind it, just rotate the front part till it looks right. And yes, you should remove the UV filter first. Also note, that I doubt yours is color neutral, so don't be too suprised if you get any purple casts to your images.

Neil Parker , Jul 13, 2006; 08:37 p.m.

Zach, I have to disagree with you, it's common knowledge that polarizers work for non- metallic surfaces only, perhaps you were seeing the effect on painted surfaces at the car show.

Sean De Merchant , Jul 13, 2006; 11:24 p.m.

A polarizer will do absolutely nothing to cut glare off metal (period). But it will cut glare off enamel paints, non-metallic chrome substitute, non-metallic finishes on metal (read as polish and other non-metallic finishes).

Reflections off non-metallic materials are polarized whereas reflections of metals are _not_ polarized.

all the best,

Sean

Julio Mendoza , Jul 14, 2006; 11:31 p.m.

How to use a circular polarizer (improved version).

Thank you all very much for stopping by and share some of your expertise and knowledge. Very helpful. It will save a bunch of reading and film wasting.

I knew I was doing something wrong.... Like not removing the UV filter, or pointing my shoulder to the sun.

So, our short version would be:

Using a Circular Polarizer (by Freeman, Arbying, De Merchant, Mendoza )

Point your shoulder to the sun so you are shooting at 90 degrees to the light and then rotate the polarizer (right or left it dosen't matter) until you like what you see best. If you have a UV filter on your lens, remove it before mounting the polarizer.

Brilliant!!

Thanks to all.

Sean De Merchant , Jul 15, 2006; 12:14 a.m.

Rewrite:

For maximum darkening of the sky point your shoulder to the sun so you are shooting at 90 degrees to the light. Otherwise, compose to meet your needs. Then rotate the polarizer (right or left it dosen't matter) until you like what you see best. If you have a UV filter on your lens, remove it before mounting the polarizer.

The important part is the final image should rule your choice and not where the sun is. After all, if you are East of a mountain at sunrise it will do you no good to point 90 degrees to the side as you will not get the mountain in the shot (excluding with a fish-eye ;o).

enjoy,

Sean

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