Recommend me a polarizer

Started 2 months ago | Discussions thread
cba_melbourne Senior Member • Posts: 3,133
Re: Recommend me a polarizer

rogerstpierre wrote:

C-PL is one thing where you often don't get what you pay for, in other words higher price, or brand reputation is no guaranty of better result. Did a lot of research when I bought my last C-PL filters, and the Marumi DHJ Super came out as a very good value and I like it. From the reviews I've seen I would get the top-of-the-line B+W but it is quite expensive, I would not bother with their cheaper options. This said I can't do high res tests to see if the Marumi affects sharpness or not as it does for you, but you might find that a vast majority of filters do, but not to the point of loosing details (which you didn't with your current C-PL), which can be easily recovered with a good sharpening tool such as Topaz Sharpen AI.

No need for tests. If it is a bad filter, it will be very obvious if you use it on a long focal length. The longer the FL, the more obvious it will be.

If it is not obvious, well then it is "good enough" for the particular purpose.

Polarizers are particularly notorious at degrading IQ because of their complex structure. It involves embedding a plastic foil in a resin between two glass plates. No other filter is that complex, except a variable ND filter which is made of two stacked polarizing filters.

What you pay for in a premium polarizing filter is:

- grinding flat and parallel and polishing the glass-foil-glass sandwitch after the embedding resin has set. This also implies coating be done after this step, not before.

- superior anti reflective coatings on the glass surfaces, sometimes an extra anti wear and dirt/water repellant coating

- use of a superior grade plastic polarizing foil, that is additionally selected for minimum color tint. This implies that the rejected foils are sold to other filter makers or users of such foils where a slight tint does not matter. Or are used in the non-premium filter range. B+W owns the Kasemann factory that specializes in making polarizing foils for the industry (like needed for display manufacturing).

- foil with a low neutral density, letting more light through for the same or almost same polarizing effect. You do not always use polarizers for outdoor shots in full sun. You use them also indoors at low light, for example in a museum against glass box reflections from skylights, windows, spotlights...

- sealing of the edges of the filter to avoid the plastic foil absorbing humidity.

- better QC and less variation

- filter rings made of brass, not aluminium which is more prone to galling on the lens threads.

- sometime a hologram sticker on the packaging to discourage faking. Sometime with an encrypted code that can be checked on the maker's website for authenticity. There are fake filters around.

Not saying there are not many other filter makers that make good filters too. But the Kasemann factory made themselves a reputation a long time ago for some of the very best quality polarizing foils. I think if nothing else, it gives some peace of mind, in a market full of brands and often unjustified huge price differences. And B+W is one of the few makers, that actually tell you a little bit how their filters are made and what is in them, at least for their premium range. They still manufacture in Germany by the way.

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