UV filter vs Polarizer filter

Started May 20, 2008 | Discussions thread
GDi Regular Member • Posts: 137
Re: UV filter vs Polarizer filter

Jim Boutilier wrote:

While digital cameras are less sensitive to UV than film they are not
immune to the effects so where you are taking pictures of distant
landscapes, particularly at high altitudes, a UV filter han help
eliminate the "haze" or fog caused by the UV light.

Based on my experience, and on what seems to be the view of professional photographers (see luminous-landscape.com), a UV filter will not help improve the image quality on modern day lenses, because they are already anti-UV coated. They are only useful as a relatively cheap means of protecting your lens' front element, even though the necessity of protecting the durable modern coatings on lenses is questioned as well (in the source named above).

A Polarizer usually reduces light by about 2 stops and helps
eliminate glare off shiny surfaces like water.

This is true, but: a polariser eliminates glare, first and foremost. In doing so, it makes colours appear more saturated, but not in the same way as increasing the colour saturation in software would do.

Take a shiny green leaf, for example. Without the polariser, there will be a lot of reflections on the leaf's surface, which will look close to white in a photograph - hence less of the green will remain. With a polariser, the reflections are removed, and the green looks a lot greener in a photograph. A polariser only works well with a strong directional light source, ie, the sun, and works best at a 90º angle to the sun.

As a side effect, a polariser also swallows up between one and two stops of light (one stop less = half as much light, two stops = 1/4th the amount of light) depending on its angle towards the sun.

Bottom line: a polariser is a must for sunny day outdoor photography. A UV filter is all but expendable, but, I am guilty of having polarisers permanently glued to all my lenses, apart from the ultra wide angle zoom, where it has to come off occasionally, to make way - for the polariser.

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