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Can I use a linear polarizer filter on Nikon D50?

Leon Chen , Dec 05, 2005; 11:37 a.m.

Although I searched a lot through google, there is no direct answer to this question...

It is always said that, a TTL metering system should use a circular PL. However, some guys said that they can just use the linear PL and everything is fine. So I am confused...

I tried my linear PL on the D50, took some photos, AF was fine (in my opinion...). and the resulted picture is not bad.

So any advanced photographer can give me a clear answer to this?

Thanks a lot.



Frank Skomial , Dec 05, 2005; 12:03 p.m.

You have already answered yourself. Perhaps there is no 1 clear answer for all circular or linear polarizers.

Why? Even some circular polarizers do not work well, e.g. one made by Prinz in Korea. So, you need answers for each filter make and type you use. Some linear polarizers defeat camera metering with some lenses and not with others (?). D50 is pretty good at metering, so you have better chance with filters, but could not tell that in general for all filters out there, even if circular.

Michael R. Freeman , Dec 05, 2005; 01:12 p.m.

A linear polarizer may work absolutely perfect on the D50 in one photo situation, but maybe not in the next photo situation. May work perfectly fine 85% of the time, or may only work perfectly 60% of the time, or 30% of the time. It all depends on the amount of polarized light in the scene, and the degree of polarization effect from the filter. In other words, with a linear polarizer it is completely unpredictable.

To quote the from the Hoya site: "Many of today's cameras use semi-silvered mirrors or prisms to split the light entering the viewfinder in order to calculate exposure and focusing distance. PL (Linear Polarizing) filters can sometimes interact with these items to give unpredictable exposure or focusing. So we recommend that you choose a PL-CIR filter unless you have a manual focus camera which has no beam splitter."

The D50 definitely uses a beam splitter for autofocus (and perhaps for the metering cells as well), and it has a semi-silvered mirror, so if you use a polarizer extensively then you would be well advised to purchase a PL-CIR. If you only use one on rare occasions, and since presumably you already own a linear polarizer, then by all means continue to use it but be aware that it will NOT be 100% reliable in terms of proper exposure and focus.

A PL-CIR is basically a linear polarizer with an additional quarter-wave plate behind the polarizing foil. See here for a more technical explanation:
Do You Really Need a Circular Polarizer?

Leon Chen , Dec 05, 2005; 03:25 p.m.

Thank you very much! So I think the answer is not so certain, and it may depend on specifically situation.

So now the problem turns into 'how can I know if the AF or AE(auto-exposure) works fine'?

As for AF, the camera will 'beep' when AF is done. Am I right?

For AE, how can I know it works normally, when the extra PL is attached?

Well, I know the answer maybe not so clear again. But I really love here and we can talk about everything about cameras. Thank you guys :)

Kevin Deacon , Dec 05, 2005; 03:36 p.m.

You can check the exposure and focus using the LCD right??? It's called Chimping.

I have used Linear Polarizers for my F100 and my D2H without any problens. YMMV.

Jim Doty , Dec 05, 2005; 04:45 p.m.

You can use a good quality linear polarizer on a any camera, film or digital, provided you focus and meter before putting the filter on the lens. Then stop down 1.5 to 2 stops to compensate for the light that is lost due to the filter. The catch to this is that is is inconvenient.

If your camera manual recommends a circular polarizing filter, that is the best way to go.


Ramon V (California) , Dec 06, 2005; 08:41 a.m.

modern AF cameras and definitely digitals SHOULD use circular polarizers. and remember to use only one filter at a time. i'm worried about you saying, "extra filter" in your second post.

linear polarizer users on digitals, if there are still some out there, might disagree with me and the others above. but to get the most of your lens' performance, please use a circ-polirizer. prcatice and experiment using it. you will get better images.

you are in the early stage of your wonderful hobby so make it fun, simple and rewarding to you. you can of course, experiment with your linear polarizer since you have it already.

Jeff Phillips , Feb 15, 2006; 01:23 a.m.

Nightmare Response to Can I use a linear polarizer filter on Nikon D50?

Last Thursday and Friday I spent two full days driving around southern California with my new-ish D50, and two proven high-quality lenses that have never given me trouble with the D50 before.

I was shooting daytime desert scenes using a polarizer leftover from my film camera days: a Cokin P160 filter.

Upon returning home from my trip and offloading the images to my PC, to my horror I found that a majority of the images I had made were severly soft, even though the D50 confirmed with a beep each time that focus was "correct." Furthermore, there was intense "smearing" - perhaps what some people call chromatic aberration - something I haven't determined the reason for yet.

Shame on me for not checking my images after day one of shooting or in high preview zoom on the LCD; shame on me for testing new gear "in the field"; but MOSTLY... shame on me for not doing the research in advance that would have revealed that the Cokin P160 filter is a LINEAR polarizing filter.

- Jeff

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