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Old Jun 13, 2011, 9:31 PM   #1
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Default Polarizer - Why you don't do wide angle

Another example of when not to use a polarizer. Remember the tree in my thread Evening 1? Well, here's the same tree, a couple of days later and a bit earlier in the evening.

First, taken with the polarizer rotated to where it doesn't have an effect.

One thing to notice is that a wide angle naturally darkens the sky, especially at higher elevations (where the sky is naturally a bit darker). This photo was taken at about 6,000 feet, so the elevation effect is just starting to be noticeable.

Now here's what the same scene looks like with the polarizer rotated to it's maximum.

When I first bought this polarizer I didn't know about polarizers and wide angle lenses, and I made a point of buying one with 77 mm threads, so it would fit this lens. The first time I used it I got similar results to this. Good thing I have two telephotos with 77 mm threads, that work much better with a polarizer!

You can use a polarizer with a wide angle for water reflections and things like that, so it's not like you can't use this combination. You just have to be very careful with your composition and avoid situations like the one above.

I also took two sets of pictures, one with a circular polarizer and one with a linear polarizer. While it looked through the viewfinder that the linear had more of an effect, when I looked at the pictures on the monitor, there wasn't any difference - the camera's metering system compensated for the difference in exposure and created two pictures with the same contrast/saturation values. I found that both unexpected and interesting as just eyeballing things, I thought the linear polarizer had a greater effect.

I'm so glad we had this topic, since it got me to play around some and get a lot more experience. I learned a great deal with this, and have acquired a new, useful accessory (the lovely Heliopan polarizer).
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Old Jun 15, 2011, 2:47 PM   #2
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Im so glad a saw this post. I was going to pick up a 77mm polarizer but now am reconsidering. I dont think linear work at all with digital and I dont like the results you got here with a circular one. Oh well, you saved me a few bucks, thanks Mtngal.
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Old Jun 15, 2011, 3:08 PM   #3
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Another good lesson indeed. Check some more info here:

With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Max Ehrmann.
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Old Jun 15, 2011, 8:18 PM   #4
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Excellent article.

I am still very glad that I bought a 77 mm polarizer, along with a couple of step-up rings. I've got several other lenses with 77 mm diameter (a 200 f2.8 and a 300 f4) that work well with it. And as various people have pointed out in other threads, you can use a polarizer for other reasons than darkening the sky, and that will work with a wide angle just as well as it will with another lens. It's just that you have to be aware of it's limitations and avoid those situations that would give you unwanted results. But isn't that true with anything in photography? Before buying a 77 mm filter, especially if it will fit only the wide angle, decide what you want to use it for, and why you are buying it. If you can't come up with a use for one that big, save your money and buy a smaller one that will fit your other lenses. Or bite the bullet and buy the bigger filter along with step-up rings so you can use it on the rest of your lenses.

That was the approach I've taken for the most part, and I don't regret it, cheaper than buying a filter to fit every lens size I have.
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