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View Full Version : Polarising filter - and a tripod?


Ellie
21st April 2009, 09:53 PM
I've just bought a polarising filter, I thought it would help keep some colour in the skies when the weather isn't behaving, and thought I'd check how to use it properly.

I found this site (http://www.great-landscape-photography.com/polarizing-filter.html) which has got me a bit worried, because it says The main side-effect of the polarizing filter is that it absorbs 1.5 stop of light. So, if you shoot at 1/180th of a second and then add the filter, you will find yourself at 1/60th of a second. This happens whatever the orientation for a polarizer. In low light situations, some type of camera support, such as a tripod, will be needed.

I have an E-400 and an E-1, that I'm still getting used to. Neither has IS.

I've got the three 'kit' lenses and was hoping to be able to use at least the 14-42mm and 40-150mm handheld at least f8 or f10.

Does anybody have any experience of using a polariser with these lenses and cameras?

Also, separate thing.

There's a formula of some sort or other in a thread that gives a rough guide for shutter speed suitable for handheld, but I can't find it.

I have to admit I didn't fully understand it either, because I couldn't see how it worked - because it changed all the time. Surely there has to be a tipping point, when handheld without IS is almost impossible?

photo_owl
21st April 2009, 10:34 PM
Ellie

the formula is derived from 35m days as 1/focal length so for us it's 1/(2xfl) which gets you a reasonable target shutter speed.

I have a number of 58mm polarising filters but don't use them now - what I did use was a small leather bean bag and any handy support like a fence post and that was great as a really portable support in the field with the 400.

Graham_of_Rainham
21st April 2009, 11:01 PM
I've just bought a polarising filter, I thought it would help keep some colour in the skies when the weather isn't behaving, and thought I'd check how to use it properly.

I found this site (http://www.great-landscape-photography.com/polarizing-filter.html) which has got me a bit worried, because it says

I have an E-400 and an E-1, that I'm still getting used to. Neither has IS.

I've got the three 'kit' lenses and was hoping to be able to use at least the 14-42mm and 40-150mm handheld at least f8 or f10.

Does anybody have any experience of using a polariser with these lenses and cameras?

Also, separate thing.

There's a formula of some sort or other in a thread that gives a rough guide for shutter speed suitable for handheld, but I can't find it.

I have to admit I didn't fully understand it either, because I couldn't see how it worked - because it changed all the time. Surely there has to be a tipping point, when handheld without IS is almost impossible?

Lots of people will tell you that you can't hand hold at slow speeds or you need to use higher speeds with longer lenses. To a degree this is true, however with practice you can do it. If you stand with your feet together you wobble, so feet at least as wide apart as your shoulders. If you can, be a tripod, and lean against something solid. Never be uncomfortable, as soon as your body is in a funny position it moves to get it'self more comfortable and that when the shakes start. Breathing is very important as is squeezing the release rather than pressing it...

IS really helps a lot but it's no substitute for good basic techniques.

Practice with the lens set at longest length and a small apature to give you slow speeds and see just how good you get...

Have fun

StephenL
22nd April 2009, 07:28 AM
It's a funny thing, but since I moved over to Olympus, using their superb lenses, I found that I need to use polarizing filters much less.

Nick Temple-Fry
22nd April 2009, 07:55 AM
Ellie

I think what they are saying is for a perfectly exposed scene shot with out a polariser you'll need to shoot for the longer time to get an 'identical' scene with the polariser - which begs the question why, if the original scene was perfectly exposed, are they using the polariser?

In practise you use the polariser when you've got signifigant areas of over-exposure (such as a burnt out sky) so the difference in speed will be less noticeable.

I've certainly used a polariser on the kit lenses, if the day is bright enough to need the polariser then there should be enough light to keep the speed up, though obviously the 'quality' of light is different throughout the scene.

Are you using the 40-150 mk 1, memory suggests the front element rotates when you zoom, which means the degree of polarisation also alters. Not always what you want.

Nick

EH1
22nd April 2009, 11:29 AM
Elle,
I totally agree with everything Nick has just said! however you could always raise the ISO a little to compensate for the slower shutter speed! (however i would`nt go much over ISO 400 as noise will then start causing you problems).I hope this helps.;)

benvendetta
22nd April 2009, 12:10 PM
I always use a polariser when I am shooting film (slides actually) but rarely with digital. It just doesn't seem to need this and I am happy with the saturation of the skies that I get.
A real disadvantage of polarisers is the fall-off that can occur, which shows itself as varying degrees of saturation across the sky. They are performing at their best when used at right angles to the sun. Your comment about loss of speed is less relevent if you are shooting in very sunny conditions, which is when a polariser will be most useful.

Archphoto
22nd April 2009, 02:00 PM
About the only time I use a pol filter is when I have to photograph a glass table... otherwise I never do.
The skies over Brazil are blue enough anyway, most of the times at least, and the Oly lenses are picking up that blue very well :)

Peter
Architectural Photographer, Goi‚nia, Brazil

photonutter
22nd April 2009, 02:57 PM
Cant say I have a problem with hand held shots when using a polarizer.
Squeezing the shutter when exhaling helps along with an open stance.

http://e-group.uk.net/gallery/data/509/thumbs/3462871315_1675f7dab1_o.jpg (http://e-group.uk.net/gallery/showphoto.php?photo=14531)
Hand held with polarizing filter.Could have easily had a faster shutter as this was ISO 50.

Though I prefer using coupled with a ND X4 filter with does need a tripod.
http://e-group.uk.net/gallery/data/509/thumbs/3463785868_54d3f98478_o.jpg (http://e-group.uk.net/gallery/showphoto.php?photo=14530)

One thing I would say is f5.6 gives ample depth of field, and surely the best sharpness, so anything more seems a waste.

MarkVarley
22nd April 2009, 11:46 PM
Probably already been covered but I don't have time to read all replies...


I have an E-400 and an E-1, that I'm still getting used to. Neither has IS.

I've got the three 'kit' lenses and was hoping to be able to use at least the 14-42mm and 40-150mm handheld at least f8 or f10.

Does anybody have any experience of using a polariser with these lenses and cameras?

I rarely need a polarizing filter, when I do it's usually for reflections rather than saturation but I don't notice a change in shutterspeed (ie I don't find I'm needing a tripod more)


Also, separate thing.

There's a formula of some sort or other in a thread that gives a rough guide for shutter speed suitable for handheld, but I can't find it.

I have to admit I didn't fully understand it either, because I couldn't see how it worked - because it changed all the time. Surely there has to be a tipping point, when handheld without IS is almost impossible?

The general thing is the focal length = slowest shutterspeed, 50mm = 1/50s or faster.

It's a general rule, different people can hand hold a camera steadier than others, I can do 1/2 second usually without a problem.

HughofBardfield
23rd April 2009, 12:46 PM
As others have said above, I find I rarely use a polariser these days, although I used one more often than not with 35mm (so much so that my default was to leave it attached to the 28mm I used as my "standard" lens...).

I find with digital my preference is for ND Grads to knock the sky (or sometimes the foreground) back a bit, and the polariser only comes out for reflections. I think modern glasses and/or lens designs render skies better saturated than was the case 25-odd years ago.

With 14mm as your widest lens, there shouldn't be too much problem with banding in the sky caused by varying polarisation, but if you decide to go wider at some stage, this will become more of an issue. By the wide end of the 11-22, it is getting to be a real problem.

Whatever lens it's used with, some light loss is the automatic and inevitable penalty for using a polariser, however. This needn't be a problem in reasonable light: even on the E1, ISO400 is usually perfectly acceptable. As others have said above, hand-holding at longer focal lengths is something that can be readilly improved with practice. Graham's advice above is excellent. Oddly enough, I find it easier with heavier cameras like the E1 + HLD2 - I think the weight tends to help iron out the shakes somewhat.

Nick is right about the rotating front of the 40-150 being a problem with any filter you have to rotate. The other thing to mention (so obvious I hesitate to mention it :o) is don't use a pola when wearing polarising sunglasses... I did - once!

Ray Shotter
27th April 2009, 04:02 PM
Ellie,

I have read the explanations on the "Physics Site" you drew our attention to and found it very informative - reminding me of my Physics Studies some many years ago. The only thing they didn't mention was that dust in the atmosphere also reflects light and does affect how blue the sky appears both to the eye and to the camera. In this country we have considerable amounts of dust in the atmosphere even close to the coast which always affects how blue the sky appears. I am sure you are aware that the atmosphere is at its cleanest shortly after rain and photographs taken at that time probably won't need a polarising filter. You may have read Barney Briton's assessment of the E-620 in Amateur Photographer magazine dated 18 April 2009. He suggests that the problem of "loss of details in highlights or burn-out in the sky" may be due to the "base ISO" setting of the E-System cameras. I quote part of his explanation as follows;

"Using ESP metering, I was impressed to see that very few of my pictures showed any significant loss of detail in highlight areas. Of those that do, the majority were taken at ISO 100. Having noticed the same effect on previous E-System DSLRs, I set up a few scenes and shot them at ISO 100 and then at ISO 200, adjusting the exposure be 1EV to compensate. Those images taken at ISO 100 contain brighter highlights, in which detail is often lost.... This suggests that ISO 200 (or thereabouts) is the base ISO setting of the E-620."

I must say I was surprised to read this but when I owned an E-510 I did notice that the sky highlight details on my photos were sometimes lost if not burnt out. I have tried a few experiments whith my E-3 and can't see any difference in the same scene shot at ISO 100 and ISO 200. But I thought I would draw your attention to his comments since you appear to be looking for a solution using a polarising filter.

My own use of a polarising filter is limited to removing unwanted reflections from wet leaves on trees, rooftops, glare off the sea etc.. and when photographing fish from above the water. One thing I can confirm is there is always some loss of light intensity at whatever angle to the sun you use a polarising filter. Neverthless, with experimentation you will find that some shots are much improved when a polarising filter is used.

Ray.

Ellie
28th April 2009, 12:30 AM
Hmm, interesting thoughts, thank you.

The polarising filter I bought is a circular one that screws onto the end of the lens. It's fiddly because the lens hood has to be taken off to fit it. I haven't really had the chance to try it out yet, I'm wondering if it was a waste of money.

What you've all said (sorry, I won't reply individually) goes to show that nothing's "set in stone" and some information on the web might no longer be relevant. It's really a case of try it and see.

Ray, slightly relevant to what you said about the light after rain.

It's been a rather dismal day here today but it finished with a rainbow, which was quite nice. A really curious thing happened not long before the rainbow appeared. It was still raining but the sun came out and suddenly everything turned a curious shade of yellow. It didn't last long enough for me to get my camera and try to take a picture of it. Typical, isn't it?

dbutch
28th April 2009, 07:30 AM
Hi Ellie

On my recent trip to Portugal I did put the polarising filter on a few times, and a couple of shots the effect was possible too much but on a couple of boat trips we did along the coast I certainly felt it helped bring out the coulours in some of the rock formations (did some without to compare) I will try and find some suitable compares and post for you when I get a chance.
My take on polarising filters is its not just about the skies they also can help boost saturation of colours aswell.

Dave