Polarizing Filter choice?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by bmoorhouse, Nov 8, 2006.

  1. I am looking at buying a polarizing filter to put on my Nikon 18-70mm lens and to use with my D50. I
    have looked around and read recommendations for a Nikon C-PL II, which I can't find anywhere. I have
    also read good things about the Hoya Pro filters.

    The Hoya Super HMC glass through B&H is nearly $160. I have seen other polarizers from Tiffen for about
    $40. Now I know you get what you pay for, and I am sure the Hoya filters are top notch, but when (i.e.
    under what shooting conditions) will their filters be worth the extra $120? If it is just a matter of keeping
    the sun out of the frame to avoid ghosts or flares, than I might choose to save the extra money.

    Besides, I am also buying the Nikon 50mm 1.8d. If the cheaper filters are "good enough," than I can
    probably get one for each the 50mm and the 18-70mm. It's too bad these two lenses don't use the same
    size filters.
  2. I use the Heliopan "jet" circular type polarizing filters and have for years. The quality of the
    color transmission is neutral and the mechnaical constructiion is excellent. I can't imagine
    that a new one costs $160.00
  3. Buy the larger size filter (for the 18-70), whatever quality/price you decide upon, and buy a step down adapter for the 50mm 1.8, so you can use the one filter on two or more lenses...

    I can't comment on the quality differences but I'm sure they don't cost $160 JUST for the name alone. I use $40 circular polarizers and since I don't shoot pro yet, they work just fine by me.

    Polarizing filters work best when you are shooting objects that are at 90 degree angles to the sun I believe. I have not known them to do much when the sun is in the frame except for lessen brightness by 2 stops and maybe make water less reflective.

    I find they work best when shooting foliage, fall colors, and especially when wet, and also lakes, streams, the ocean, and lastly, if you want to deepen the blue in the sky.

    Good Luck...
  4. I suggest...

    Buy a 77mm filter and get step up rings for BOTH lenses. 77mm is the "pro" standard, and
    if you buy better lenses in the future, chances are they will have this size filter threads.
    Then... you've only bought one size.

    Of course a LOT of lenses have 52mm so I have polarizing filters in both sizes, a lot of
    people do.

    And yes, the expensive filters are worth it. Better light transmission, contrast, et cetera. If
    you can't tell the difference, then don't spend the money, but then there will be no way to
    tell without spending the money or borrowing one...
  5. Ellis -

    What is a 'jet' polarizer? I assume it was some 'brand' of Heliopan at one time or another. When I did a google on the phrase you used, I find a handful of used listings, a few hits for combinations of products (e.g. 'ink jet') and a thread of yours here on p.n all on the first page.

    B&H lists three 'grades' of Heliopan Circ Polas, the standard, the SH-PMC (multi coated), and the Kaesman; all available in standard or thin mount. Which one of these 'maps' to the 'Jet' you refer to?
  6. BTW Kaesemann Type pol-filters are sealed at the edges to keep moisture out. If you live in a dry environment and/or keep the filter in dry air most of the time you will likely not need it.

    Another BTW: It is not easy to produce pol-filters that are "neutral-grey" or in other words have no color cast. If you can live with a slight color cast than cheaper brands may be ok. With a digital camera a few test images are quickly done if you step outside a store and take a few shots. I have also seen good cheaper (not cheap) pol-filters. I have seen remarkable sample variation with cheap pol filters both in color and in pol-effect (well that must have been about 15 years ago but still worth to keep in mind that a quick test may be useful).
  7. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    The 18-70mm DX uses 67mm front filters. Since filter cost goes up exponentially with size, unless you have plans to buy lenses that use 77mm filters, IMO, it is unwise to buy such big filters. It is also kind of inconvenient to have a huge filter hanging in front of your modest sized lens, and you will no longer be able to use your lens hood.

    You can get one 67mm filter and also a step-up ring (52 to 67) to use it on your 50mm lens (52mm filter). The 67mm Nikon PL II filter is $110 and in stock at B&H. Of course, the lens hood issue will apply to your 50mm lens in this case.

    At least to me, if you lenses cost like $300 or so, it is kind of weird if you spent around half of that amount on a filter. If you are not that demanding, I am sure that some of those B&W polarizers that cost $80 or so are good enough. B&W and Hoya are good brands, but there are many grades even within a brand.

    Also see my recent post on Nikon polarizers. You want to get one that is thin:
  8. You should ask yourself if you really need a polarizer.

    I stopped using mine. It was messing up too many shots with over-polarization, making the sky unrealistically dark. Of course that's my fault but it's an easy thing to do.

    Also I question the idea of spending good money on expensive lenses known for their "color and contrast", then putting a polarizer in front of them.

    I have come to appreciate the natural look, get the scene as it actually is.
  9. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Have you tried taking the reflection off windows (especially car windows), water surface, etc.? I suggest you take your polarizer and stand next to some cars. Rotate the polarizer and observe the effects on the windows and the reflection off the metal surface.
  10. The 77mm Nikon C-PL II that I own was purchased from an Ebay dealer located in Hong
    Kong at the time. You might look there. It is an excellent filter and I've been completely
    satisfied with it.

    One quick note about the Hoya units: I ended up chucking mine in the trash because it
    developed a strange oily film that I wasn't able to remove with any solvent known to Man.
    Maybe my sample was defective or there is something aside from conventional cleaners
    that this thing needed, but in any event, I essentially ruined it using the same cleaning
    protocols I have for years on the rest of my filters. Good luck in your search.
  11. "I have looked around and read recommendations for a Nikon C-PL II, which I can't find anywhere."

    $110 at B&H (plus shipping):

    I have to agree with Shun. Unless you know you are going to buy a future lens with a 77mm filter attachment, it probably doesn't make a lot of economic sense to spend a lot of extra money (+$40) for an oversized filter.

    Some Hoya filter coatings can be a pain in the a** to clean, as Erik noted.
  12. I've used Singh-Ray polarizers with great success. Plus the Cokin adapter holds all the handy split grads and other nifty filters, too. They're not cheap but I've yet to be dissapointed. They also make a new 1.3 stop polarizer, which is nice when you might need a hand-hold.

    Another advantage is the max ring size is 77mm but I've got a kit of ring adapters down to 52mm so I can use the polarizer & split grads on any of my lenses.
  13. Bernard Korites , nov 09, 2006; 08:53 a.m.

    "....Also I question the idea of spending good money on expensive lenses known for their "color and contrast", then putting a polarizer in front of them. "

    I guess Bernard you might have used a poor quality polarizer. A high quality filter is as I mentioned above "neutral grey". You loose some light but the color balance does not change. You might loose some contrast in some light conditions if the filter is not multi-coated, but if you use a hood chances are you get away with this 90% of the time. Yes if you want best quality get a first class slim Käsemann polarizer that is MC. (Even if you do not need the better protection of the Kaesemann filter - Kaesemann polarizers usually do have best quality control).

    Yes - you do change contrast and color if you remove reflections. That is the point of using the filter and this is the reason why many pay money for the filter. Some people like better color saturation and more details say on plant leaves. If you prefer the "natural" look please don't use the filter.
  14. A polarizer is not a panacea, so use it sparingly. Often a better choice is a neutral grad filter which has no color cast, nor preferentially enhances or suppresses the sky, based on sun angle.
  15. Wow, thanks for all of the information. I guess my problem was that I didn't know the
    problems associated with cheap polarizers. I assumed that it was simply the same as with
    the UV vilters - possible flares and ghosting. At least now I know what to look for.

    Also, thank you for the links to the Nikon filters at B&H. When I searched using C-PL II I
    didn't get anything. I will probably get one of those and a 52-67 step up ring. I won't be
    leaving the filter on the lenses all of the time, and as I intend to use the 50mm mostly
    indoors (i.e. without the filter), that is probably the way to go.

    As for the advice to the 77mm filters, that is very sound, but as I finally convinced the wife
    that the $300 for the SB-600 and the 50mm/1.8 would be worth it, I don't see getting a
    pro lens with a 77mm diameter any time soon . . . though hopefully someday.
  16. Here's something else to consider: some lenses don't autofocus well with cheap polarizers...

    When I purchased my 80-400VR, I picked up a relatively cheap polarizer to go with it - and lost about half of the best shooting day of my life to out-of-focus images from my new polarizer and lens. I was, to say, just a little miffed. I then went out and purchased a Heliopan filter, and all has been well with the world since.

    On the other hand, my Nikkor 28-105mm D lens will gladly take any polarizer you want to put on it - including a $14 "special" I bought at Ruby's Inn after losing my other one.
  17. Well, it has taken a couple of months, but I finally purchased the filter. I just ordered the Nikon C-PL II and the step up ring. I also ordered a Hoya ND0.9 Neutral Density filter.

    I will certainly find out when the filter arrives, but does anyone know if the Nikon is multi-coated on both sides? I have seen conflicting reports.

    I will say it was a tough decision between the Nikon, the HMC Hoya, or the Pro 1 Super HMC. When I found out, however, that I could get the Nikon as a Federal Government employee at only $85, I went with it.
  18. Here's my take on an 82mm CPL I have made by OEC. It was so intriguing that I made two reviews. The first is called, "Field Test, Part 1: OEC Brand Circular Polarizing Filter." Watch them both; they may be enlightening! Watching how this particular filter can affect the very image with the use of video can be a deal-breaker. If your image can vary that much by a filter, with that kind of distortion, I'd save some more money and get a quality filter.
  19. Thanks, Karl. I watched these videos months ago, but forgot to comment on them. The
    effect the low quality filters had on the image was amazing. I ended up going with the Nikon
    CPL-II and was glad I spent the extra money! Thanks for taking the time to make and post
    the videos!

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