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General photography questions and answers: Discuss Basic Filter advice - UV and Circular Pol....Hi, I've just bought a couple of Filters for my Nikon D80 + Nikkor 18-70mm lens. Hoya 67mm Circular Polarizing ...
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Old 15-09-2007, 23:36   #1 (permalink)
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Basic Filter advice - UV and Circular Pol.

Hi,

I've just bought a couple of Filters for my Nikon D80 + Nikkor 18-70mm lens.

Hoya 67mm Circular Polarizing Pro 1 Digital Filter
Hoya HMC UV Filter 67mm Multi-Coated Filter

I will be using the UV filter for general lens protection so I can't see that there is anything special I need to worry about regarding its use?

I'd appreciate any tips you could offer using the Polarizing filter on the beach or in brighter conditions as I have never used one before. I am off to Lanzarote on Thursday so I plan to experiment with it there if the sun plays nicely.

The sort of questions rolling around in my head are:

Is it only of use in bright sunlight and if there are bright reflections in the shot.
(for example a boat at sea with the sun lowish in the sky)

Will it improve sunset shots?

Is it best leaving it off the camera until I have a better understanding of it?

Dan
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Old 16-09-2007, 00:10   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Basic Filter advice - UV and Circular Pol.

A Circular Polorizer will always be under most conditions your best choice. Please bare in mind though, that it will only work regarding reflections off of water or help saturate the blue sky if your camera axis is 90 degree's away from the sun's light, (in either direction)! You will loose about two stops of speed as well but, now we all work digital it's not like suffering the slow speed of say a 25 ASA Film for good quality anymore!
Just experiment for a few minutes and watch what happens in your viewfinder and you will know exactly how to respond when the time comes!
Also, watch out when using extremely wide angle lenses with a polorizer as if you include a wade expanse of water or sky in the frame the saturation effect will vary across the frame depending on exactly where you point it?
Be careful of using it to shoot through windows and some toughened glass as you could end up with a shot that looks like you took the reflection of an image from a CD underside. The bullet proof polycarbonate inner liner windows on commercial aircraft will also have the same effect!.....Think I have covered it all?.....LOL
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Old 16-09-2007, 00:42   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Basic Filter advice - UV and Circular Pol.

Gulp lol
Now I know what that seamingly flimsy bit of plastic is for in my Cheapaschips flight to Lanzarote!
Thanks for the tips K2forus, my eyes glazed over a bit after the second line but I sort of know what you mean. I suppose this is the beauty of digital, you can click away until it dawns on you what people on here are talking about
Good to see you haven't lost your knowledge in your 20 year stretch
As you seem to know what you are talking about and I have your attention for a bit what would you go for next in my shoes....

I am new to photography so I am < on the learning curve.

I have a Nikon D80 with 18-70 lens and I am wondering where I should look for my next purchase.

I expect you will say spend you time on learning what you have which is fair advice.

I'd just like to know whether the next significant purchase in your opinion should be a:

good lens alround lens a la 18-200 vr all rounder (likely)
speedlight (I have no idea what these do to make them so expensive)
tripod
macro lens

I can see the need for all of these in time but I'd appreciate your advice as to what would be most valuable in the early stages of this steep learning curve.

Hope this makes sense.

Dan
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Old 16-09-2007, 07:34   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Basic Filter advice - UV and Circular Pol.

Trying this reply method as I tried the quick one on the site layout and it won't stop sending???? I hope you get this OK?



Hi Dan,
Yes, I have letters after my name in Photography but never use them!
To answer you Q about lens choice;
Firstly, any modern AF lens is never as good as the old stuff for film and anyone who says otherwise is missled.
I have just taken the gamble of ordering an 18-200VR Nikor in hope of reducing my carry weight but one can always get a "Lemon"...so to speak!.......These lenses are so delicate that quite often they can arrive new and will hunt on autofocus, not focus on infinity properly or do anything one can think of?....One of my prime lenses for some of my work with insects in flight etc, will be a good old fashioned micro nikor 55mm which is reputed to be the best lens in the world!...I am not so sure about that but what I do know is that it will take the knocks and be sharp always!....Sorry, but I am still a manual focus guy!......A brilliant lens was the Tamron SP 17mm which I could get in sharp focus at F32 from almost the glass to infinity which meant I could take something like a one foot puddle of water in a rock crevise and show it like it was a lake where one is not.....so looking at the inner landscape there!....Cannot get one now as they are as rare a Rocking horse S*%$T...LOL..... so I went for the AF Tamron 11-18mm!....I am not a zoom man either as I always went for heavy carry load to keep the quality! I will let you know how I feel about this Tamron short zoom when it arrives and I have put it through it's paces soon. Of course you can get better in the Nikor lenses but you will pay a dear price. Why I am up so late I do not know?....LOL....I am going to cuddle up to the wife now but keep in touch.
Regards,
Kevin...better know as "K2".
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Old 16-09-2007, 11:01   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Basic Filter advice - UV and Circular Pol.

Quote:
Please bare in mind though
Wey, hey! No sex, please, we're British.

Seriously, though, your comment that modern lenses aren't as good as old ones is open to argument, K2. I've been taking pictures for forty years and these days use a pretty wide variety of kit, including Leica, Hasselblad and Nikon. I'd be willing to stack up the zoom lens on my Sony R1 against the Summicron 50, in any real world application. Of course, if I was taking pictures of test charts, it may be that the Summicron would resolve more lines per millimetre. There are very few cases where that matters, though.

With the advantage of computerised design and manufacturing techniques, the idea that older generations of lenses are superior just doesn't make any sense.

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Old 16-09-2007, 11:09   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Basic Filter advice - UV and Circular Pol.

It's likely that some of the older prime lenses compare very favourably with their modern counterparts, but there have been great advances in the optical quality of zoom lenses which, not so long ago, were not considered good enough for 'serious' photography.

Going back to the original question, the debate often re-emerges as to whether a UV protection filter is a good idea or not. Essentially it is bound to add to the risk of flare, but whether you feel that the protection it offers outweighs this is a matter of opinion. You should certainly remove the UV filter before fitting any others, including a polariser.
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Old 16-09-2007, 12:00   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Basic Filter advice - UV and Circular Pol.

I think it all comes down to the question "how good is good enough?"

Twenty years ago, I'd have said that adding a filter to a zoom lens was something to be done with considerable trepidation. After all, those fourteen elements already gave you upwards of twenty flare inducing surfaces, so why add two more?

We're told that multi-coating and great improvements in surface finishing, not to mention new materials and clever changes in element shapes have all added to the flare resistance of even the most complex design and we can see it for ourselves, if we place the lenses in situations that would completely flare out a first class 'sixties design, like the Summicron or the f1.4 Nikkor.

I'm still leery of any filter, unless there's a really good reason to fit it but that's an unreasonable phobia, with which I need to come to grips!
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Old 16-09-2007, 12:14   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Basic Filter advice - UV and Circular Pol.

I would like to throw in my tuppence worth regarding polarising filters. I won't repeat the stuff about circular/linear/AF etc. as in my opinion AF is so crude a system of focusing I never use it.

The usual thinking re polas is to darken blue skies or remove reflections from water or to increase colour saturation. All valid but too limiting and dogmatic a way of thinking.

Try this as a 'different' way to think about polarising filters and their use. A pola is a 'reflection control device'. Now to expand that a little virtually every scene/subject contains reflections of some sort, foliage, clouds, glass, painted metal and so on. What one should consider in every case is whether the reflections that are present need to be controlled in some way.

The amount of polarization that occurs depends on the angle of incidence/reflection (as stated above). At 90 degrees to the sun (i.e. the sun directly to one side) the polarization is at maximum but at other angles it reduces according to the angle.

Also, the pola filter can be rotated to control how much of the polarized light is removed. This is the KEY POINT! You should think about this carefully. Our perception of a scene utilises the reflections from objects to determine the surface characteristics of those objects. Also, the colour saturation of those objects is affected by the amount of reflection (why the hell does this forum use US spelling correction, can I change it please? I digress.). Bearing these points in mind, when you choose to use a pola filter don't just rotate it to maximum removal of the reflections but consider and OBSERVE the overall effect on the image. You may well find your images actually gain from using the pola in a more subtle way rather than always on max effect.

This is how I was taught to think about polas at Blackpool photo college way back in the late '70s and it changed my 'amateur' thinking completely. Think about it and you may well find yourself using the pola more as a creative tool rather than in a dogmatic way (you may also use it less often or in fact more often depending on your preferred type of subject matter).

As I said, just tuppence worth...

Regards

Les
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Old 16-09-2007, 12:18   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Basic Filter advice - UV and Circular Pol.

The dramatic indigo skies you can get with a PL are striking but not realistic - again it's a matter of opinion and some people think they are overdone. With a very wide angle lens the degree of darkening will vary across the frame, which can look a bit odd, and I wouldn't use a PL for panoramics.
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Old 16-09-2007, 12:22   #10 (permalink)
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Re: Basic Filter advice - UV and Circular Pol.

Thanks for all your replies.
I'm coming to realise that there are no hard and fast rules in photography regarding kit as everyone seems to have their own views and past experiences to draw upon.
Dan
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Old 16-09-2007, 12:35   #11 (permalink)
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Re: Basic Filter advice - UV and Circular Pol.

Dan

re your next purchase. It depends what you consider to be your priority. For me the best thing you can buy next is a good tripod (not a flimsy cheap bugger). However, this entails taking it with you and learning to use it effectively (i.e. don't raise the centre column to the top!).

A tripod will slow down your picture making and allow you time to think about the subject/image and give you time to study the viewfinder image. This will have massive effect on your progress as a photographer (if that's what you want) rather than being simply a snapper.

A tripod, used with a long cable release (at least 20 inch, cloth covered for flexibility, to eliminate movement to the camera when you fire the release), will give you the sharpest images (as long as you focus accurately but you will have time to do that with a tripod) AND allow you much more creative choice regarding shutter speeds/apertures (subject permitting, i.e. no wind outdoors, subject moving around etc.).

The biggest limitation most hobby photographers impose upon themselves is hand-holding their cameras. 35mm cameras gain the same benefits of a tripod as larger format cameras.

If you are serious about being a good photographer read this advice seriously.

The other thing you should spend your money on is a piece of black card about 5 inches x 4 inches in the centre of which you cut-out a rectangle either 36mm x 24mm (35mm format) or double that size. This is called a 'viewing card' and is probably the cheapest but most valuable bit of kit you can have. Instead of looking through your camera you use the viewing card to seek out compositions and explore the subject BEFORE reaching for your camera. The viewing card allows you to: select the best position/viewpoint for the chosen subject, determine the best focal length (the distance the card is from your eye equals the required focal length, at 50mm from your eye the 36x24 sized hole is showing what a 50mm lens will take in, and so on) for your interpretation of the subject and finally, visualise the image. All this without taking the camera from it's case! Hows that for a few coppers well spent!

The viewing card together with a tripod will improve your photography faster than anything else (except a workshop with me of course!). Your zoom lens offers you plenty of focal lengths for all sorts of images so, at this time, you do not need more lenses! Save you dosh tosh and listen to me, I see good things!

OK, that's it.

Les

PS A tutorial about viewing cards could be done if sufficient interest.
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Old 16-09-2007, 12:46   #12 (permalink)
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Re: Basic Filter advice - UV and Circular Pol.

Thanks for your advice Les,
I'll give the viewing card a whirl as it seems like a nice simple idea.
I'll take a look at the reviews for tripods and see what suits.
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Old 16-09-2007, 12:53   #13 (permalink)
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Re: Basic Filter advice - UV and Circular Pol.

Back to your circular polarizer. The circular polarizer screws into the front of the lens but then the polarizer itself can be rotated.
The polarizer stops polarized light in one direction. When light bounces off a shiny horizontal surface some of it is horizontally polarized. You can turn the polarizer to either reduce or enhance the reflected light.
Light from the sky is also polarized so the sky can be made much darker blue.

There are two points to note.

1) When you put the polarizer on the lens it is no use assuming that it will be lined up in any particular direction. Set up the shot and then turn the polarizer to get the effect you want. (Be careful not to unscrew it.) You should see reflections and the sky getting lighter and darker as you turn the polarizer. Just choose which effect you like best. You can enhance reflections from water if that is what you want to photograph or reduce them if you want to photograph things in the water.

2) Beware of lenses that turn as they focus. It is possible to look through the viewfinder turn the polarizer to get the effect you want and then when you press the shutter release the lens turns to focus and of course the polarizer turns with it and changes the result. If you are using a lens like that then you have to set the polarizer after focusing.



It is not as hard as it sounds you can play about turning the polariser and seeing the effect without taking any photos. In fact you can just look through it without even putting it on the camera but make sure that you look through it the same way as the camera looks through it. Nothing much happens with a circular polariser if you look through it the wrong way.

Have fun taking photos you can't get without a polarizer.
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