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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Gadget Bag: Polarizers For Fall Color

Having a good polarizer on your camera can do more to bring out fall color than hours of work in Photoshop

Labels: Polarizers

This Article Features Photo Zoom

Made from Schott-Desag B270 Crown Optical Glass, the Formatt line of circular polarizers is available in a variety of diameters. The company has a long history in the film industry and a reputation for making excellent filters, and this is reflected in its emphasis on making filters that will perform up to the requirements of current, high-tech HD video cameras and HD video DSLRs. As with most polarizers, the construction consists of two pieces of clear, optical glass that sandwich a piece of polarizing film.

Singh-Ray calls its polarizers “lighter, brighter,” meaning that they transmit more light than average and consequently require less exposure compensation. That also means more light is transmitted through the viewfinder, so it’s easier to compose and focus. Singh-Ray’s latest product, the Vari-N-Duo, is just the opposite. It combines a polarizer with an adjustable ND filter, which allows you to adjust density from about three to eight ƒ-stops. Available only in a 77mm diameter, this is the perfect choice if you’re shooting outdoors on a bright day, but want to use a long exposure to blur subject movement.


Heliopan filters are made from glass supplied by Schott (wholly owned by Carl Zeiss) and set in black anodized brass rings that screw in with precision. They’re available in every conceivable size and configuration, including 13 different types of polarizers and special-effects filters. Heliopan thin circular polarizers accommodate ultra-wide-angle lenses as wide as 21mm. All of the polarizers are in rim-calibrated mounts to help find proper settings in cameras without TTL viewing or when LCD screens are washed out because of sun glare. The filters also are edge-calibrated.

The full line of Pro-Optic circular polarizers ranges in popular sizes from 49mm to 77mm. The filters are thin and well made, and produce excellent results. You’ll also find an interesting line of filter accessories, including Slinger filter wallets, stack caps (that simplify storage) and pincer-style filter wrenches for loosening filters that have been attached too tightly.

Best Results From Your Polarizer

To find the area of the sky that will be most strongly affected by a polarizer, make an “L” shape from your index finger and thumb and point it at the sun as though you were shooting a rubber band into space. (Your thumb doesn’t have to be perpendicular to the ground—you can rotate your hand through an arc; just keep your finger pointed at the sun.) If your index finger is aimed at the sun, your thumb will be pointed toward the portion of the sky where a polarizing filter will deliver maximum results.

B+W (Schneider Optics)
(800) 228-1254

Cokin (OmegaBrandess)
(410) 374-3250

(201) 818-9500

Heliopan (HP Marketing Corp.)
(800) 735-4373
Hoya (THK Photo Products)
(800) 421-1141

Pro-Optic (Adorama)
(800) 223-2500

(800) 486-5501

(631) 273-2500


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