canon 16-35mm II w/ circular polarizer

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by rpm_photo, Dec 31, 2009.

  1. Hello all,
    I'm getting ready for a trip out west to Jackson Hole for some skiing with my brother and some friends. I shoot with the following primarily:
    I want to shoot some photos and some video when out there. Maybe I can manage to get some cool stuff with the MK2. Anyways, I just bought the 16-35mm and I LOVE the lens. It's great to get wide. I'm thinking about getting a CPL for the lens, but they're just so darn expensive with the 82mm front threads. $200 minimum it looks like unless I go with a cheap Tiffen...
    Here are the questions:
    Will I find a big advantage in purchasing a CPL for this with the snow conditions and for the "hopefully" blue skies?
    I know a CPL will help with color saturation on ppls clothes - Is the color saturation really that important if I can just fix in post?
    If I shoot video will there be advantages to having a CPL where it wouldnt be as easy to fix color in post, or would I be better off shooting the video with the CPL in the first place? OR would the CPL give me funky effects on the sky in video due to the SUPER wide angle if I were doing shots where I followed the skier?
    Would I just be better off shooting the video and not worrying about the color saturation and fix in post?

    MOST IMPORTANT - Would I just be better off spending or saving the $200 for something else?

    I leave in 1 month and need to figure this out. All I know is it's going to be a blast, and I'm sure I'll get some cool shots - but like everything else, I want them to be the best they can be.
    Thanks in advance!
  2. I polarizing filter is about all that I carry anymore. Most things can get done well in post processing but I find that nothing looks like a real polarizing filter. I carry one for any lens that I have with me. I even got an adapter for my G11 specifically so I could pop on a polarizing filter when I hike with it. $200 hurts, but it is well woth it for high altitude, bright sky shooting.
  3. Ryan, you have to see this. Nothing to do with a CPL but everything to do with what a 5D MkII can do in the snow. If you think the 16-35 is fun, play with the 15mm fisheye like in this. Enjoy.
  4. Get the polarizer. The best price/quality point is IMO, the Hoya MC CPL. What are you spending on the rest of the trip?
  5. Hi Ryan,
    I am no expert on this but I was interested in getting a polarizer for my 16-35mm until I read Ken Rockwell's comments at his website (see quote below) Does anyone agree with Ken's advice?
    "Polarizing Filters: Don't do it!
    The sky changes its polarization as you look from left to right. The sky has its largest amount of polarization, and thus polarizing filters have their greatest effect, at 90 degree angles from the sun.
    Used on normal and tele lenses, POL filters have more or less effect depending on where you point them.
    Used on lenses that can see a broad expanses of sky, a POL will render the more polarized areas much darker than the other areas. This causes nasty dark bands in the sky, and is why I never use a polarizer with an ultrawide lens. "
  6. I think as a rule no one agrees with Ken Rockwell... ever
  7. I have examples to illustrate Ken's viewpoint that sky can be difficult with a wide polarized field because of the pattern it makes over a broad expanse of sky. If you recognize this while shooting you can turn the filter a little to tone down the effect, or even take the filter off. I have a 5D and older 16-35, using a standard-thread filter, and this produces moderate vignetting. As much as I hate using thin filters, if you get a polarizer for the 16-35 with your full frame 5DII, ideally it would be a thin filter to minimize vignetting.
    Is it worth it? Only you can say. Depending on your subject you likely will find situations where it has value, especially when natural landscape allows you to isolate the effect to a smaller, more manageable patch of sky or water. But whether it will be worth it will be a value judgement. Polarization is one of the only filter effects that is hard to mimic in photoshop later. Therefore I still do use my polarizing filter with the 16-35.
  8. I sometimes use a circular polarizer with a 17-40 L. You do have to be careful for uneven polarization of the sky, especially the wider the focal length. Sometimes the polarizer needs to be set for no or minimal effect to avoid this problem. The polarizer is effective for other uses such as eliminating glare off of water or leaves, and to reduce reflections off of glass. A spilt neutral density filter can help to reduce the exposure differential in a landscape scene, without causing the sky to appear irregular in its saturation. That large 82 mm filter can also be used with inexpensive step-down rings for any other lenses that have smaller front elements, eliminating the need to purchase other polarizer filters.
  9. When it comes to filters I only carry a polariser and ND grads. Polarisers work well with ultra-wides despite what Ken Rockwell may say. You just need to check the effect when taking the shot. And the graduated effect from side to side can itself look quite fun. The slim variety of CPL works best as this eliminates the possibilty of vignetting from the mount.
  10. stp


    I love polarizing lenses, and I never read what Ken Rockwell has to say. I have a 16-35 II, and I have an 82mm polarizing filter for it. However, I would never use that filter on a wide expanse of blue sky. I can also spot a photograph from a mile away where someone has used a polarizing filter on a wide-angle lens.
    The degree of polarization changes as one's angle to the sun changes. If you face into the sun or directly away from the sun, a polarizing filter will have little or no effect. If you face at right angles to the sun, a polarizing filter will have its maximum effect. The trouble with wide angle lenses is that they encompass many different angles in a single photograph. The result can be a blue sky that varies from very light to very dark and back to very light again. This would be especially true in the winter because the sun maintains such a low angle during the day.
    I might use a polarizer, carefully adjusted so that it isn't set to have its greatest effect, at 35mm, but I can hardly conceive of using it at 16mm. Where a polarizer is most useful to me is in the interior of a wet forest and I'm wanting to take the shine off the leaves for deeper color saturation.
    Some people don't mind a sky that varies dramatically with respect to the density of the blue; a dark blue section in the middle is fine with them. To me, it looks terrible. I'd rather darken the blue or increase the contrast of white clouds in a blue sky as seen by a wide-angle lens by using the computer -- it will look more natural.
  11. Hello Ryan,
    My experience with a CP filter on the 17-40 suggests that you are likely to get very uneven polarisation effects if you use one with your 16-35 (unless you are in some very flat light).
    As I understand it, the CP's effect is greatest at about 90 deg to the sun. With a large angle of view, you stand to have optimal effect in one part of the frame and least effect in another.
  12. Using a polarizing filter is not just about darkening a sky. They can be critical for eliminating or reducing the reflections of snow, ice, streams and vegetation. Get a polarizing filter for the 24-70 and that should also fit the 70-200 depending on which model that is. Since the 24-70 covers much of your wide angle needs I think it would be a waste of money to get a CPL for the 16-35.
    Here in Pennsylvania we get probably a dozen deep blue skies a year. But I find a polarizing filter much more useful eliminating reflection than for use with skies.
    Must be nice have extra money and trying to find things to spend it on. Cards, cases for cards? Adequate backup? If so, consider a graduated neutral density filter.
  13. When you shoot with an ultrawide lens you can get some uneven depth of blue in the sky. But in my experience it is minor, occasional, and easy to corrrect in post processing. Ken likes to be provocative. It makes it hard to appreciate his nuggets of wisdom when you have to seperate them from the some of his more unfortunate advice.
  14. Yes get a CPL - you have three choices - either a thin 82mm screw in (e.g. Hoya / B&W), a regular 82mm screw in (but it will vignette a minor amount at 16mm - perhaps 1/3 of a stop) or a Cokin but yo need Z or X series. all options are expensive - the regular sized 82mm the least so. I live by Banff AB so I take a lot of snow shots. For skiing and ski racing you do not need a CPL if you are shooting a close crop of a skier. For all other shots you probably need a CPL or ND Grad
  15. I gave up on polarizers 20 years ago. I found that once I started using high quality lenses with high contrast and rich colour rendition that I no longer needed polarizers. I found that polarizers reduced contrast and muddied both highlights and shadow. I have been trying graduated neutral density filters but the positive effects are outweighed by the reduced resolution.
    I use post processing in Photoshop to achieve the effects that I want to create. I still have a lot to learn but I am pleased with my results so far.
    I suspect that the good quality equipment you have is quite capable of getting the results you are looking to get.
  16. Thank you all for the thought provoking advice! I greatly appreciate the input of others. I suppose I should offer more info; I do currently have a CPL that fits the 77mm ring on both my 24-70 and 70-200. that does do a nice job with reducing some reflections on non metallic objects. I suppose that It might be a while before I have to worry about leaves and trees, however if there are those instances where I need a CPL i guess I can just use the 24-70 or somethign if the situation allows.

    I also have ND grads that work well - both hard and soft edge. I use them very frequently and they are very effective in helping balance exposure between sky and ground in high contrast situations. I love cloud detail. In thinking more about the CPL at lengths wider than 24mm i might be better off using the ND grads on the 16-35.
    The only potential problem with ND grads and skiing is the fact that they would not be very effective to use quickly. Time is involved in setup. However, I guess that I do also need to remember that although it will be bright on a sunny day, I will not be in high contrast situations on a snow covered mountain. The snow exposure is almost the same as the sky at that point becuase it is so reflective.

    I think I will hold off from the CPL for now. maybe in spring. Thanks again for the advice! If there is any more advice to come, or follow-up responses, I will be sure to keep an eye on this post for a while.

  17. Be sure to test you filter before you go. Purchased a Tiffen this past fall - shots kept coming back soft until I traced it to the CPL.
    I know you didn't ask but...Things to do if its too windy (lifts can be closed due to wind)
    Many moose can be seen along Gros Ventre Rd, eat at the Gun Barrel, herds of elk at the refuge, beer at Snake River Brew Pub, David Brookover Gallery, Black Tail Ponds, extra battery, sorry I got carried away. Have fun.
  18. Your skies will look messed up with the circ. polarizer unless you very carefully watch your angles to the sun. Just the nature of such a wide viewing angle. I just got the 16-35 myself and ordered a circ. polarizer for mine, but not for skies. I bought mine for water reflections and shooting leaves and other greenery. A circ. Polarizer still has its place on this lens.
  19. Ryan with a Cokin z or x series ND grad you can just hold the filter in front of the 16-36 II so log as you are careful of reflections. This is much quicker than using the holder. These big filters come in their own soft protective pouch which makes them easier to carry. I learnt from (expensive) experience that the plastic Cokin boxes on the P series will scratch the filter if it is subjected to a lot of jarring (e.g. skiing).
  20. Ryan, here are a few things to consider.
    (1) A polarizer will make a blue sky look darker, i.e. a deeper shade of blue. Normally, this is an attractive effect, but if the sky is already darker than the snow, the polarizer will increase that contrast. The sky might end up looking almost black in your photos.
    (2) Compounding Problem 1, skies at high altitudes already look darker than skies at sea level. Your polarizer is now going to make a dark sky look even darker, and when you try to put that dark sky into a photo with bright white snow, well, let's just say that your camera isn't going to be very happy.
    (3) Compounding Problems 1 and 2, a wide-angle lens exaggerates the polarizer's "sky darkening effect" even more.
    (4) Polarizers slow down your shutter speed. Not good for action shots.
    Bottom line: Polarizing filters can be useful in many situations, but (a) shooting snow (b) at high altitude with (c) a wide-angle lens is about the worst possible application for a circular polarizer.

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