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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Gadget Bag: Polarizing Filters


For landscape photographers, a polarizer is a must-have accessory you should carry at all times. It does much more than simply darken the sky.

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Heliopan High-Transmission Circular Polarizing Multi-Coated Filter, Slim Mount
The Heliopan High-Transmission Circular Polarizing Multi-Coated Filter uses a combination of high-quality Schott glass and a black brass ring mount to provide a well-sealed and well-constructed filter. The brass ring includes index marks, providing a way to achieve precise and replicable settings. The polarizer includes the Heliopan SH-PMC 8-layer color neutral multicoating on each side (16 layers in total), ensuring durability and flare reduction, as well as dust and moisture resistance. Despite the multicoating, high-transmission technology allows 99.8% of light to pass through the filter, making it only a 1-stop loss of light, compared to other filters that have 2- or 3-stop losses. This filter also comes in a Slim mount version, reducing the depth of the mount and possible vignettes. The Slim mount has no front threads for filter layering. www.hpmarketingcorp.com

B+W's long history of filter innovation includes the development of several different coatings and mounts. All of their filters provide a neutral color and use high-quality optical glass. The Standard F-Pro mount is made of brass, providing front threads for additional filters, lens caps and hoods. The F-Pro Circular Polarizer is available with the Multi-Resistant Coating (MRC), which creates a surface harder than glass, protecting the filter from scratches, as well as making the filter water- and dirt-resistant. Another option is the Standard F-Pro MRC with Kasemann polarizing foil. This high-efficiency foil is cemented between the optical glass, then sealed around the edges to protect against humidity. This is of particular note if you enjoy shooting in swamplands, rain forests or wet thunderstorm weather.

The XS-PRO Digital mount is B+W's latest mount design, providing a thin brass mount to avoid vignettes with wide-angle lenses, while maintaining front threads for lens caps and hoods. All XS-PRO Digital filters feature both MRC and nano coating technology with an improved water-beading effect for simple cleaning, as well as the Kasemann polarizing foil.

B+W's Extra-Wide (EW) Circular Polarizer features an oversized mount with larger filter glass to avoid vignetting with extreme wide-angle lenses. EW mounts are available in 67mm-112mm sizes. www.schneideroptics.com

Singh-Ray offers neutral polarizers, plus some color blends and combinations. The LB Polarizer is made from highly polished proprietary glass, and the "lighter, brighter" density of the filter adds only 11⁄3 stops to exposures. The basic LB polarizer is available in Neutral, as well as Warming, which provides the ability to adjust the red/yellowish tones. Both are available in slim mounts, which remove the front threads.

Similar in design, Singh-Ray's LB ColorCombo filter combines the LB Warming Polarizer with the LB Color Intensifier, enhancing reds, browns and greens in one ring. Because you're not stacking filters, you only lose about 2 stops. This polarizer is also available in a thin mount for 72mm, 77mm and 82mm.

The Gold-N-Blue Polarizer provides a tool particularly useful for landscape photographers. Just as the name implies, it allows you to adjust the amount of blue and golden hues in your image by rotating the filter. www.singh-ray.com

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