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Thread: What brand of Circular Polarising filter is best??

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    What brand of Circular Polarising filter is best??

    Hi. I have a Canon 17-85mm zoom lens and I lost my Kenko Wideband polarising filter during a shoot on Saturday. I looked everywhere but no luck. It cost me $124. Anyway I need to replace it. I was just wondering what polarising filters are affordable but still great quality if possible (should I stick with Kenko). I've looked into Hoya, which I think are the same as Kenko. I can't believe my filter fell off without me realising. Argh.

    Thanks

    Josh

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    Fell off? I have never even had one come loose. In fact I make sure I always turn them anti-clockwise (looking from the front of the lens) but that does tend to make them tight.
    Best? or Best Value? I think B+W MRC may be the best, but the Hoya Super Pro 1 are also fine fileters.
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    can't remember Tannin's Avatar
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    B+W are the best, at least the best that I have ever used, but they are quite expensive. This is the one you want: http://www.mainlinephoto.com.au/prod110.htm - the B+W Circular Polariser Kasemann MRC filter. At $222 it's more than the top-line Hoya (I have one of those too) but it is worth it. Compared to the Hoya, it has significantly better saturation control and produces a more natural looking result. The solid brass ring is nice to have also - less prone to getting stick.

    Best value? Dunno. Strikes me that the best value product is the one you have least regrets and fewest second thoughts about.
    Tony

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    Thanks for the advice. Yeah I must have made the mistake of not turning it this time. Stupid of me. A lesson for next time.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tannin View Post
    B+W are the best, at least the best that I have ever used, but they are quite expensive. This is the one you want: http://www.mainlinephoto.com.au/prod110.htm - the B+W Circular Polariser Kasemann MRC filter.

    Agreed, I have the slim Kasemann for my 17-35 f2.8. It is THE best and although Mainline is the local Oz distributor, I recently got one from the USA for AUD$207 (77mm though) landed here in 6 days Vs the $305+ shipping Mainline wanted for it..

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    I was about to order a B+W slim MRC CPL, but noticed that the slim version doesn't have filter threads in the front of the filter. That means I won't be able to put on my cokin ND grad holder if I have the CPL on.

    Do you guys find that to be a problem? or do you not use CPL and ND Grad filters together?
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    i am curious about this question as well. I have had many people that u must have a filter on all lenses to protect the front glass piece from getting scratched.

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    G'day (again) Jude

    They are probably all pretty much the same. I've used Hoya and cheap imports like Jessops.

    Main problem these days is most likely what is available and from where. There are few camera shops left.

    As for filters for lens protection, I always advise my students that they are worthwnile. But certainly not a polariser, they lose you around 2 stops of light and really only work outdooors in bright sun.

    For lens protection get a UV or a Skylight filter. These used to be important in the older days of film but now don't actually do much more than lens protection.

    Ray

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wayne View Post
    Agreed, I have the slim Kasemann for my 17-35 f2.8. It is THE best and although Mainline is the local Oz distributor, I recently got one from the USA for AUD$207 (77mm though) landed here in 6 days Vs the $305+ shipping Mainline wanted for it..
    Hi Wayne

    Your kidding, surely these prices are wrong.

    Ray

    ps nice avatar, not

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    can't remember Tannin's Avatar
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    Hi Judy.

    There are many sorts of filter, with as many different purposes. The main ones are:
    • Clear. Clear, skylight, and UV filters are purely for protection of the lens. Cheap ones do really horrible things to your image quality. Good ones only degrade quality a small amount - but all filters reduce picture quality to at least some extent. In general, it's not worth putting a clear filter on any lens worth less than ~$1000 - a good filter will cost you the best part of $200, so you'd be mad to put one on a $130 lens. For lenses over $1000, protection makes more economic sense, but do you really want to degrade the picture quality of that $1000 lens by putting a filter on it?
    • Coloured. Coloured filters used to be used to compensate for different sorts of lighting back in film days, before digital. They are still used for special effects by some people. No-one really knows why. (But Arthur will be along in about three milliseconds time to tell you in exquisite detail.)
    • Plain ND. These block out a certain amount of the light (measured in stops) but don't change the picture in any other way. They are mainly used to allow very long shutter speeds for special effects, such as those horrible blurry, unnatural-looking waterfall shots you see littering the landscape forum.
    • Graduated ND. These are clear at the bottom, graduating to a shade of grey at the top. They are used to reduce the excessive brightness of the sky without making the foreground too dark.
    • Polarising. These work like Polaroid sunglasses to block some light but let other light through. Objects (the ground, a tree, a human, clouds) generally reflect light with random polarisation, while the sky and some other things (notably flat water) tend to reflect light in a particular orientation. A polarising filter lets you take advantage of that to deepen blue sky, brighten clouds, eliminate annoying reflections from a lake, and so on. Like all filters, it is a special purpose tool and not something you use all the time.


    Normal filters have a thread so that you can screw another filter on top. This causes vignetting problems with very wide angle lenses. For these, you use a slim-line filter which, because it doesn't have the extra thread, works properly on wide-angle. That's what a slim line filter is - one without the extra thread.

    Cheapo filters can do really, really horrible things to your images. Avoid them like poison.

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    Example: a polarising filter used incorrectly to illustrate what it does. The sky at left, normal appearance on this bright, warm day. At right, darkened by the polariser.



    (Actually, I quite often use them incorrectly because I like the effect. Most photographers would say that is quite wrong, but Arthur would understand.

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    The guy at the store said polarising filters should be replaced after 8-10 months. I didn't realise this. Is this correct? I thought they would last longer than that. I ended up getting another Kenko Pro by the way.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tannin View Post
    Example:

    ...

    (Actually, I quite often use them incorrectly because I like the effect. Most photographers would say that is quite wrong, but Arthur would understand.
    Me!!?? understand??? (a perfect example of how Tony has been an AP member for too long now!)

    this is a classic example of how to best use a polariser in an incorrect manner
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    G'day all

    Tannin your example makes no sense given your previous post. That's an example of a polariser used incorrectly whether cheap or over priced.

    Josh, some guy in some shop, selling over priced filters said what? With no explanation, and you believed him?

    Ray

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    can't remember Tannin's Avatar
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    Sigh. What did I say? Try reading my post, OK?

    But to repeat myself, the point of posting that picture is to illustrate, in one shot, the difference that a polariser makes. On the left-hand side, we see an (approximately) normal sky. On the right-hand side, the deep blue of a polarised sky.

    In practice, of course, you normally aim to have the polarisation effect reasonably even across the frame.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ray Heath View Post
    Hi Wayne

    Your kidding, surely these prices are wrong.

    Ray

    ps nice avatar, not
    Ray,
    No, look here>> http://www.mainlinephoto.com.au/category34_1.htm

    and the 67MM MRC UV I think is on sale with a few other less common B+W filters for $20-30, but most are non-MRC and the odd ball one's nobody wants.

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    Yeh sorry Tannin, my bad, I lumped your post together with some others. It is a good example of what a polariser does. I'm just sceptical that an expensive model does any better than a cheaper one.

    Wayne, I looked on other site and it appears you are correct in that some of these filters are expensive items. I had not considered that most here use fairly wide range zooms with large filter sizes. I prefer prime lenses. My largest filter is 58mm.

    Ray
    Last edited by Ray Heath; 27-05-2010 at 9:15am. Reason: better looks better without an e on the end and mine in place of my just sounds silly.

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    No worries, Ray. It's all good.

    I can shed a little light on the differences between polarisers in different price classes, however.

    I have never owned a cheap polariser, but I have owned some cheap filters of other kinds, and been burned by them. It's quite common to see people having unexplained image quality problems - looks a bit like poor focis, looks a bit like camera movement issues, but it isn't either of those things. Eventuallly, you try taking the cheap filter off and Hey Presto! the problem is fixed. It happened to me quite a few years ago, and I've seen the same story play out here on AP, and on DPR, and another photography forum I used to go to. Oh, and once or twice with friends in real life too.

    But CPLs, I have only owned three, all reasonably good ones. One, a mid-range Hoya, I have had for years but barely use because it's an odd size to suit my 60mm macro lens, and I don't need a CPL for it very often. I'll get more value out of the 52mm CPL now that I've got a second lens for it to go on (the Tokina 35mm macro, which I also use for landscapes quite a bit).

    The second one is a 77mm Hoya which was top of the range at the time I bought it. Hoya have a new, higher-spec line as well now, which I haven't tried yet. I've used my 77mm slim Hoya for years and got to know it reasonably well. (That shot above was with the Hoya.)

    And just a few months ago, I decided to try a B+W. I needed a second 77mm CPL anyway, so I decided to see if the B+W really was better. Still early days with it, but it certainly does have two advantages: (a) it is less prone to over-saturating than the cheaper one: it produces more natural-looking colours. It's a reasonably subtle difference, but quite noticable. (b) the solid brass ring is more pleasant to use than whatever the normal Hoya rings are made out of. It is smoother to turn and less prone to sticking and refusing to come off. If you put the filter on and off much - and you tend to be always fiddling with the damn thing if you use a CPL - that's actually a significant difference. Pleasant handling makes for a good mood and that makes for better photographs. Nothing worse than trying to be creative when what you really want to do is swear and throw some recalcitrant bit of gear into the lake!

    The B+W is also said to have a longer-lasting coating that resists marking better. I can't comment on that. Ask again in a few years. Oh, and to whatever salesdroid moron in whatever shop said that filters only last for so many months and need to be replaced, I have a whole box of fax rolls in my shop that I'll never need. He is welcome to them anytime he needs a smoke.

    Nevertheless, fllters are very easily marked and scratched (much more so than lenses) and seem to have an incredible ability to attract fingerprints. I am prepared to swear on oath that my Hoya CPL can pick up a fingerprint by teleportation from as much as 85mm away, even through the fabric of my camera bag.

    So I suppose there is some sense in saying that they don't last too long, but only insofar as you have to be mega-careful with them if you want to keep them in good nick. The B+W, however, comes with a lifetime guarantee. They promise to replace it if it fails for any reason, even if you scratch it! Seems a bit weird to me, but that's what they say.

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    Madsens also do B&W: http://www.madsens.com.au

    Personally, I love my Marumi DHG CPLs, they're probably considered by some as "cheapo" but my clients have never complained...

    i've had them for years now too...no scratches, no fading...

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    Even tho the OP has now bought himself another Kenko(decent brand) I'll still post this reply.

    One definite negative against the cheaper Hoya(at least.. dunno about other brands??) polarisers is the quality of the ring itself, as Tony commented on the B+W filter.

    I have two Purple quality(that's the colour of the packaging!) CPL's and both of them have fallen to bits and pieces at various stages in their life(possibly 3years now).
    The problem exists when they get very tight on the lens and you try to unscrew them. You need to effect such a tight grip on the filter edges, that in compressing it to give enough grip to assist removing it, it falls apart.
    Not a very common problem on my two (67mm)Tamron lenses, but has happened twice(in three years).
    But it is a much bigger issue on the Nikon 105 Macro lens. This lens seems to latch onto the filter much more tightly than almost any other lens I have. To the point where I fear removing the polariser I have dedicated for it. I sometimes leave it on and do it at a later time when I have more time to fuss over it.
    Another lens that caused me lots of grief in removing filters was the Nikon 80-200/2.8D. this lens has a rubberised front thread edge. I think this is to 'seal' the internals of the lens when attaching a filter to it.
    Problem is if the filter gets tight, it's basically Locktighted to the lens, I've never had my el cheapo 77mm Hoya(15years old now!) come apart in trying desperately to remove it, but the ultra slim Uber HMC top-o-the-range Hoya I also have, is impossible to remove without using vice grips(which is what I had to do the final time I used that combo. From then on that lens only had the cheapo regular Hoya fitted.
    That lens is now gone(replaced with a more modern lens) but the all the polariser filters still remain.

    I think I may attempt to acquire one of those B+W's as well..... one day(soon).

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