Not Your Everyday Banana

by Bart Arondson

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I have already got a circular polarizer filter (CPL) filter for my canon EF-S 18-55mm and it is working fine, although the quality goes down a bit compared to when I don't have the filter on, but its okay for the effects of a CPL.

Now I'm thinking about getting a more expensive "Hoya or such" CPL filter along with some ND filters, My question, should I get the expensive filters, are they worth that difference?

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possible duplicate of How do I choose a polarizer? (Despite the general title, the question specifically covers expensive brand vs. cheaper makes.) –  mattdm Mar 2 '12 at 14:07
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This is the one filter you really still need, and do have to shell out money for. I usually buy mine from ebay, but they aren't the cheap ebay knockoffs. –  dpollitt Mar 2 '12 at 18:42
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@dpollit - I would argue that neutral density filter(s) would be as well, including the graduated ones. For certain types of landscape photography, they may be the only option to get long shutter speeds on bright days. –  John Cavan Mar 2 '12 at 23:04
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3 Answers 3

up vote 9 down vote accepted

Absolutely, the best ones are worth every penny. While I cannot say I tried every polarizer out there, I tried over a dozen and kept the 4 best ones.

My favorite by far is the Hoya HD Circular Polarizer which lets one full stop more light than every other polarizer. This is an import advantage since more light lets you shoot at lower ISOs and faster shutter-speeds.

Keep in mind that Hoya makes all grades of filters not just the best ones. Even the lowest quality one is not bad but paying more makes a difference. They have 5 quality levels and the Super Multi-Coated one is very good too but does not match the HD's transmittance.

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Are there really no other CP filters that let through that much light? I've read it's about –1.17 EV on the Hoya HD, but it seems surprising to see claims that everyone else's CP filters are more like –1.5 to –2.0 EV? –  drfrogsplat Sep 13 '12 at 3:31
    
To answer my own question, I went through the LensTip CP filter review. Hoya HD CP seems to be claiming ~44% transmission (-1.17EV) vs their older CPs at ~30% (-1.71EV). Most of the high end CP filters in the LensTip review achieved ~35-38% (-1.40 to -1.51EV) though some like the Fomei Digital CPL 67 mm hit 44% (but ranked almost last for other reasons). –  drfrogsplat Sep 13 '12 at 4:09
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The brand of filter does make a difference according to the LensTip polarizing filters test. My experience bears this out -- my B+W circular polarizer is clearly better than my Tiffen.

It's also worth noting that I've discovered second-hand that more than a few filter sellers on eBay are selling counterfeit name-brand filters for low prices.

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Filters directly affect the light coming through the lens, meaning if the filter is not good, the light quality will be decreased accordingly.

On the other hand, I would not buy very expensive filters for a cheap DSLR/lens combination and also not cheap filters with an expensive DSLR/lens combination.

Your system is as good as its weakest link and considering the price of a filter, it's best not to save a few bucks on those.

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