Polarizing filters test

10 August 2009
Szymon Starczewski

1. Introduction

Originally posted 2008-12-21 on Optyczne.pl

In photographic practice, there often occurs a situation in which we’d like to take a picture through a pane of glass, eliminate reflections from some surfaces or raise the contrast of clouds by darkening the sky. These effects are impossible, or difficult to obtain in post-processing. Polarizing filters come to the aid of this, making them all possible.

The history of cheap polarizers began when Edwin H. Land invented polaroids. Before then only crystalline elements of small diameters and aperture angles had been available. Apart from that, they were ghastly expensive. Unfortunately, their optical quality is still followed in cheaper solutions. Nowadays, thanks to foil polarizers and phase plates technology, many filters from most significant producers are available on the market.

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Polarizing filters test - Introduction

Circular polarizing filters are much more complicated and difficult to manufacture than color or UV filters. They consist of more layers, and each of them needs to represent a decent optical quality in order not to degrade image quality altogether. That obviously affects the price of these elements. Unluckily, if we’re thinking about taking pictures through a pane of glass, by the water or we wish to get the effect of clouds spectacularly distinct from the sky, a filter like that must appear in our photography bag.

At this point, there’s a problem, as there are tens of polarizing filter models on the market, whose prices oscillate between a hundred and six hundred PLN (72 mm diameter). Is it worth to spend such an amount of money on two pieces of foil and the optical glass? To determine that, we’ve tested 25 polarizing filters of brands like B+W, Fomei, Fujiyama, Heliopan, Hoya, Kenko, King, Marumi, Sigma and Tiffen, hoping, that the reading of the present text will help us find the answer to this question.

On that occasion, we would like to thank cordially the shops, which lent us the filters to test.

Polarizing filters test - Introduction Polarizing filters test - Introduction
Polarizing filters test - Introduction Polarizing filters test - Introduction