Circular Polarizers or Neutral Density Filters?

Discussion in 'Accessories' started by michaelsmiller, Mar 27, 2010.

  1. I am looking for some advice on some filters to buy for my outdoor landscape photography. I have UV filters for all 3 of my lenses but I need to invest in some polarizers and neutral density filters. The lenses I own are Canon 70- 200mm 2.8, Canon 28-135mm 3.5-5.6 IS USM, and Tamron 17-50mm 2.8 Non-VC.
    If you were starting from scratch, which filters would you buy first and why? What company makes the best filters? What size filters should I buy? or does each filter have each stop increment?(neutral density .3, .6, .9, etc) Should I buy filters for every lens I use or just specific lenses?
    Thank you
    Miller
     
  2. CP's and ND's are for different purposes, depends on what matters to you. ND's allow you to do daylit time exposures and the like, CP's reduce reflections, deepen blue sky color and so on.
    Personally I've only got a CP, got 77mm which is a common size for a lot of my lens. I got the slim version, but suspect I would have been ok with regular, even on my 24-70 or 24-105, on full frame. Slims often lack front threads, which creates a hassle with lens caps. They're also pricier. I went with B+W brand.
    ND's come in specific light reduction values, as far as I know, you have to decide up-front how much light reduction you want.
    The The-Digital-Picture site has a pretty good summary of filters.
     
  3. You don't really need UV filters anymore (unless for lens protection) because filter in front of the sensor already has UV layer. Actually they decrease the quality, even the best ones (the intensity of damage to the picture depends on lighting, sometimes it's barely visible).
    Best filters? Well, it's hard to say which ones are best, but "Lee" filters are certainly worth attention. If I were starting from scratch I'd certainly buy good circular polarizing filters, since they create the effect which cannot be produced using graphic software. If you don't want to buy cir-polar. filter for each lens you can buy one for the biggest diameter and then buy lens reductions, which in my opinion is the best option (unless there's a huge difference between diameters) since you can spend more money on something else.
    Which neutral density filters should you buy? Well, the ones you need. It really depends where you take pictures, since in different parts of the world the EV value between e.g. foreground and background differs. If you're not in a hurry while taking pictures and if you have time to post-process them maybe it's better to invest in a good tripod and create HDR images, if done right the effect should be the same if not better.
     
  4. Mendel's first two sentences are the story for CP vs. ND. However, Michael's comment raises another distinction. I think what he is talking about are graduated ND filters, which are often used to darken skies. A regular ND filter is uniform--it darkens everything the same amount--and so dynamic range (range of EV values) and HDR or exposure blending are not an alternative to them. Uniform NDs, as Mendel indicates, allow you longer exposure times. People often use them to get blur in moving water or waves.
    I find CPs much more useful than a uniform ND, but it's because of what I do. I have only used an ND to allow longer exposures for moving water. I don't own a graduated ND. I buy Hoya super multi-coated for everything and have been pleased, although they are sometimes hard to clean.
     
  5. Aghhh, thanks for clarifying Dan, I didn't read the question carefully.
    Yes, I was saying about graduated ND filters, which obviously are not the point here. ND graduated filters and ND filters are two different things;)
     
  6. A Graduated Neutral Density is something to consider. It avoids blowing out the sky (just going to white), and/or blocking the foreground (going to black). I've never gotten any ND filter (either kind), but the graduated ND's would have a lot of benefit in landscape photography, IMHO.
     

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