The Importance of Polarizers

September 08, 2017  •  Leave a Comment


Kyle Cook


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Without Polarizer With Polarizer


What makes a photograph "pop? Color, contrast, saturation, right? RAW files (if you shoot RAW) don't have as much contrast and color right off the bat, so post processing is necessary to make the images appear as you saw them when you took the shot. Regardless, the use of a polarizer is something that can't easily or effectively be replicated by post processing.


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Without Polarizer With Polarizer


When we teach workshops, we stress the importance of a polarizer to remove glare off of reflective surfaces, whether it's a shiny leaf, waterfall, or window - whatever. We suggest getting a polarizer for each lens. Who wants to be screwing your polarizer off and on every lens each time you switch? I did that for years, so one of my early goals in equipment acquisition was to get a polarizer for every lens I owned. You waste a lot of time changing polarizers! That being said, photographing with only one polarizer IS manageable. When you purchase a polarizer, and have only enough money for one, buy one for the largest diameter lens you own. You can then purchase step-up rings so that it will fit your other lenses, eliminating the need (but not the desire) for individual polarizers. Remember, step-up rings screw into your lens, so it needs to be the size of your lens for the screw-in part, but the size of your polarizer for where you screw in your polarizer. It's an adapter between your lens and your polarizer.


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Without Polarizer With Polarizer


When you buy a lens, you purchase the best lens you can afford. Lens quality DOES make a difference! Please consider that when you buy a polarizer. Buy the best polarizer you can afford. No sense having a wonderful lens and sticking a cheap polarizer on it. Kind of negates any benefit you have from owning great "glass".


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Without Polarizer With Polarizer


As Melissa said in her video about polarizers, they are most effective at 90 degrees from the direction of the sun.  That doesn't mean you can't leave them on your camera, but just be careful of uneven polarization in your pictures - where the sky is darker in a corner, or 1/2 of your sky, but light on the other. Also, polarizers sometimes vignette unattractively in the corners of your picture, so watch out for that. Look at your scene, rotate your polarizer, and see if it has the desired effect on your scene that you want. If it doesn't, take if off, or rotate it so it doesn't show in your picture. Remember, it will cut down on the light entering your lens, so if you need that extra light, take it off. Sometimes, you want to slow things down, and without a neutral density filter, a polarizer might help you achieve a lower shutter speed to get the effect that you want for your image.


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Without Polarizer With Polarizer


Polarizers are a way (notice I don't say a cheap way) to give your pictures a more professional look. Polarizers range in price from $ to $$$.  While a good one isn't cheap, it is comparatively less expensive than other photographic accessories.  To us, they are indispensable!


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