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Polarising Filter - Are They Worth It?


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Paul, I use pol filters primarily to control unwanted reflections, such as are found on windows and shiny foliage, when shooting botanical or landscape subjects. I have a swing filter for my M-lenses, but rarely use it. 

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Intensifying colours, especially foliage, darkening blue in the sky, enhancing clouds, removing reflections, etc. One of the very few useful filters on a digital camera. In a pinch a makeshift ND filter

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Jaapv and WDA are correct.

I had an old style Leica swing polarizer filter (does not fit most new lenses) and used it very occasionally. If you only have an M camera then the new swing polarizer might be worthwhile. Note that using a polarizer on wide angle lenses will likely cause uneven results, especially on skies: polarizing is most intense at 90 degrees from the light source and drops off from there. If you have a dslr or mirrorless such as an Sl you might be better to use that when a polarizer is needed or desired. A polarizer filter for an SL is far less expensive than the cumbersome swing (universal) polarizer for the M.

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Yes, very worth it for certain subjects like foliage, sky, water, and window reflections. I bring mine only when I am planning to shoot highly reflective surfaces (like water or glass) and when shooting landscapes. 

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21 hours ago, schimmey said:

...Does anyone here see the need for using a polarising filter on an M lens and, if so, under what circumstances?...

Here are two frames which show what sort of differences a Pola can make. BOTH frames were shot through the filter.

In the first image the filter was turned in such a fashion so as to cancel the ship's reflection on the water. The second was taken after the filter had been rotated 90 degrees to darken the sky;

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Hope that helps.

Philip.

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How easy is it to preview the effect on a digital M via the rear LCD live view or Visoflex EVF? I imagine the darkening is harder to see if the view auto-adjusts, but of course you will see the change in reflections and probably a change in contrast?

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Posted (edited)
33 minutes ago, Anbaric said:

I imagine the darkening is harder to see if the view auto-adjusts

Yes to this quote.

Normally I use a polariser on big blue-sky type photographs, rarely for reflection control. I have a 5cm Summicron polariser from the 1960's which has numbers all the way around the outer ring. To use it you need to hold it over your eye, rotate until you get the effect you want, check which number is at the top, then re-align that number to the top once screwed onto the lens. If you turn from landscape to portrait orientation, simply re-align the number to the 'top' again. It's actually a real faf - however the results can be fantastic. For some reason that old filter of mine gives the most beautiful polarised skies, somehow slightly different (and more pleasing) to the Hoyas.

In answer to the OP's question - schimmey - yes, definitely!

 

[Pics: Spitfire - M10R. Dog - Rollei 35S on Provia 100 - both with the Summicron Polariser]

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Edited by PCPix
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1 hour ago, Anbaric said:

How easy is it to preview the effect on a digital M via the rear LCD live view or Visoflex EVF? I imagine the darkening is harder to see if the view auto-adjusts, but of course you will see the change in reflections and probably a change in contrast?

That is not the way to do it on a rangefinder camera:

 

 

33 minutes ago, PCPix said:

It's actually a real faf

Not really... If you mount the filter correctly you can see the effect through the optical viewfinder before swinging it down.

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I think I've owned the Leica M swing out polarizer twice now having sen it used at a good price (because many, myself included, eventually move it on) and never used it once. Just too fiddly in the field for me. YMMV. 

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6 minutes ago, jaapv said:

Not really...

That would depend on whether you have (or want) that flip out holder on the front of your M! A 39mm Summicron Polariser is almost un-noticable by comparison.

With skies the polarisation angle changes depending on which direction you're shooting (as I know you will know Jaap) - so would neeed re-checking if you shoot in a different direction. I'd still call it a 'faf' compared to any SLR.... but then again one should be taking one's time and enjoying the foibles and pleasures of M rangefinder photography...

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16 minutes ago, Anbaric said:

How easy is it to preview the effect on a digital M via the rear LCD live view or Visoflex EVF? I imagine the darkening is harder to see if the view auto-adjusts, but of course you will see the change in reflections and probably a change in contrast?

Having just checked the on-screen preview will show how the image will be captured in-camera. I have no experience of a camera with Live View nor a Visoflex so cannot comment on the 'darkening' question but, happily, the TTL metering will auto-adjust according to any possible light fall-off.

I use the Pola with my M-D Typ-262 so, it not having a screen, I haven't a clue what's going on...😸...

Not quite true; I've worked out a system when using a Circ-Pola on the M-D which gives, perhaps, 95% of 'full-effect' in, perhaps, 95% of the situations in which I find myself.

Philip.

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2 hours ago, Anbaric said:

How easy is it to preview the effect on a digital M via the rear LCD live view or Visoflex EVF? I imagine the darkening is harder to see if the view auto-adjusts, but of course you will see the change in reflections and probably a change in contrast?

Yes, it's quite visible. You lose a bit of light (about one stop) but it doesn't really matter in most cases.

I have my M11 set up to preview everything in black and white, and it's very easy see the difference as you rotate the filter.

I don't have a swing polarizer, just a regular CPL - it's more compact, and I don't mind looking at the back screen when using it. But, like I said earlier, I don't shoot with a polarizer often.

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1 hour ago, charlesphoto99 said:

I think I've owned the Leica M swing out polarizer twice now having sen it used at a good price (because many, myself included, eventually move it on) and never used it once. Just too fiddly in the field for me. YMMV. 

If truth be told I was looking for mine just now and I cannot find it...🤔

 

1 hour ago, PCPix said:

I'd still call it a 'faf' compared to any SLR..

Isn't that true of any M camera in general? 🤩

 

 

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1 hour ago, jaapv said:

That is not the way to do it on a rangefinder camera

Well, I'm still shooting Leica on film so I'd have to do it the hard way (though I only have a Heliopan filter with numbers on the ring, not one of those swing-out contraptions). But I was hoping it would be easier on digital. Up to now I've only really made much use of a polariser on SLRs, where of course you can see exactly what's happening.

I like Jonathan Harris's videos, and he's also a good dealer. I bought a camera from him a while ago, though I'm afraid it's a Nikon.

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Posted (edited)
17 minutes ago, Anbaric said:

Well, I'm still shooting Leica on film so I'd have to do it the hard way (though I only have a Heliopan filter with numbers on the ring, not one of those swing-out contraptions). But I was hoping it would be easier on digital...

The following is just IMX but it might be useful to try out.

As has been mentioned most Pola filters have either an index mark or a set of numbers as is the case on your Heliopan. IMX when the index mark (if there is one) is set either at the 12 o'clock / 6 o'clock or else the 3 o'clock / 9 o'clock positions it will be just about at its strongest for either Landscape or Portrait orientation. This is the manner I adopted when I set the Pola for the pair of pics in post #7. You can easily check with your Heliopan to see where it is working at the maximum and just make a mental note of which number is top-dead-centre.

Sometimes, of course, the filter will have to be at a slight variation but without taking the filter off it's hard to know unless you have a second Pola with you! On occasion I've considered having a spare loose in my pocket to use as a 'ready-reckoner'. Simply whip it out; take a 'reading' and transfer this onto the camera-mounted filter. So far, however, the method outlined above has been, for my type of snapping, more or less foolproof.

One other way which can often be a good indicator of when the Pola is acting at Max. Effect is to watch how the exposure arrows behave (if you have TTL metering in your film M). When the filter is darkening the sky, for example (as in the second snap post #7), the arrows in the M-D indicated - by trial and error - that I needed to increase exposure by around 3/4 of a stop in comparison with the first snap shown.

Philip.

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I rarely use a polarising filter because a) I'm tempted to photograph what made me stop to make a photograph with reflections and all, b) I'm rarely interested in colour photography, c) I see photos with intense colours, deep blue skies, no reflections, and I think they look dead like the polariser has sucked the life out of the subject.

I do use colour in making a B&W image (filters, colour channels, etc) so I'm not saying manipulating colour isn't essential, but I feel a polariser flattens and dulls an image by removing those little bits of sparkle and natural changes in tone. Some people have the knack of using them well, but at best I'd say using a polariser requires more skill than the simple instructions on the box imply.

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5 hours ago, charlesphoto99 said:

I think I've owned the Leica M swing out polarizer twice now having sen it used at a good price (because many, myself included, eventually move it on) and never used it once. Just too fiddly in the field for me. YMMV. 

Indeed. I have one and its in its box on the shelf wher I know where it is but rarely get around to actually taking it out and using it. Good idea but inherently impractical on a rangefinder. Its as easy to use an ordinary one and watch for the meter to dip as its rotated .....

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I have but have never used a pola filter for my M lens. When I owned a Mamiya 7, rather than use an expensive swing out filter, I bought one that had numbers around the rim and an identical hotshoe mounted mini filter so you could dial in the effect you wanted and then transfer it to the one on your lens. Worked well. 

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