It was suggested that I should get myself a polarizer filter to get over my reflection problem. ( How to avoid reflection when taking a picture of a ceramic object with a shiny glaze? )

I found out that a Nikon 52mm Circular Polarizing Filter CPL cost about 75 usd while I can get another filter for less than half the price — about 33 usd. (Please note that I know nothing about these filters and googled them just for the example.)

What is the difference between polarizer filters?

I need to remove the glare and nothing else — would either of the two do the magic for me? What filter do you recommend for me?

  • A polarizer will reduce the glare but won't eliminate it, I would advise you investigate other solutions (such as a large diffuse lightsource) before spending money on an expensive polarizing filter.
    – Matt Grum
    Sep 29, 2010 at 8:46
  • Thanks, I do need to check how to build a tent or some other method to defuze the light ... yet I'm in the gathering information stage and since it's going to cost me anyway... I'm trying to figure out what is the best and cheapest starting point... I do need perfect pictures (at least to my novice eyes) and I got all the time needed, nikon d50 ... so I "just" need to control the light - how and for how much is what I'm trying to figure out.
    – Asaf
    Sep 29, 2010 at 9:22
  • A quick note about CPL's...choose a good one, and if you can, examine it and test it out before purchasing. I've purchased CPL's that tend to add a variable color cast to my shots, depending on the angle and lighting. I've had landscape shots go from neutral to very blueish cast to very greenish cast as I rotate the polarizer. A good quality CPL shouldn't affect color balance much as you turn it.
    – jrista
    Sep 30, 2010 at 1:47
  • I think this question is a duplicate of: photo.stackexchange.com/questions/2515/…
    – Reid
    Sep 30, 2010 at 23:57

10 Answers 10


Here's polarizers' test: http://www.lenstip.com/115.4-article-Polarizing_filters_test_Results_and_summary.html. Even if you don't choose anything among these filters, it still gives good idea what to value.


Choosing a polarizer you have to consider the size, its use and the conditions that you will be under.

The price range of polarizers coincides with a huge variance in quality. I have owned several between $80 and $280 USD and I can tell you first hand that the $280 is absolutely the best.

Now, before you go and buy the most expensive one for you should consider what the quality difference means:

  • Light transmission: Higher quality polarizer let more light through but at least one stop difference compared to the cheapest ones. If you plan to shoot from a tripod or with plenty of light, this is not important.
  • Resistance to glare: This depends on what you photograph. If there are direct light sources (bright lights) in the scene, then a super-multi-coated filter will perform better. If you can control the lighting and make sure it is diffuse, then you do not have to worry about it.
  • Color: A polarizer should not affect the hue of colors directly. Bad ones do. So if you are trying to make an accurate reproduction of something you need to get a high quality polarizer.
  • Contrast: A polarizer that is not well coated will reduce contrast and make your images look dull.

By your setup you can manage to nullify the impact of the first two points above but if you buy one that does not give you accurate color and good contrast, you may find yourself spending time corrected for this using image manipulation software.

If you are afraid of the costs you can consider buying the largest filter size and use step-up-rings so that the expensive filter you buy will be suitable for all your lenses. That is the strategy I used only at first I underestimated the size I needed and settled on 77mm, so I ended up also buying a single 86mm circular polarizer for my largest lens.

  • 1
    Beware that step-up rings may mean you can't use the CP filter with a lens hood, if you have/use those. Both can be quite useful outdoors to improve contrast (in different ways). On the other hand, it can be awkward to adjust a CP filter inside a deep lens hood anyway, so the step-up ring may not be the only problem there. Sep 13, 2012 at 4:12
  • .......105mm :)
    – garik
    Apr 25, 2013 at 10:59

What you should look for is a circular polarizing filter, as that is needed for an SLR. And of course the correct size to fit your lens.

Other than that, it depends on what you mean by "good". If you want quality, buy an expensive one. If you want a cheap one there are filters that aren't as durable, but should be enough for a hobbyist.

  • I have the kit lens 18-55 mm and a prime 50mm. Which polarizing filter will fit both these lenses? Aug 15, 2010 at 23:50
  • 1
    @CodeToGlory: I'm not sure which of the 18-55mm and 50mm lenses you have. The 18-55mm lenses seem to have a filter size of 58mm and the 50mm lenses seem to have a filter size of either 52mm or 58mm. If both are the same (58mm) then you can use the same filter for both lenses, otherwise you need two filters.
    – Guffa
    Aug 16, 2010 at 1:09
  • 2
    If you've got the 50mm f/1.8 II (which has the 52mm diameter) you could get a cheap 52 to 58mm filter adaptor to avoid having to buy two CP filters. You can get really cheap adaptors off eBay for a few dollars. Probably only $10-20 in a retail shop? Aug 16, 2010 at 1:40
  • 4
    Just a quick note. If you are using cheaper lenses, like the kit 18-55mm, or a cheaper 50mm, buying a high-quality, multi-coated CPL will not provide much added benefit. Your lenses already likely have flaring/ghosting problems, so a high quality, expensive CPL won't really help much. If your 50mm lens is a high quality L-series lens, then a high quality, multicoated CPL will be beneficial. Quality is ultimately dictated by the lowest common denominator, and the 18-55mm kit lens is about as low as that denominator gets.
    – jrista
    Aug 16, 2010 at 18:36
  • See photo.stackexchange.com/questions/6744/… for how to cope with different filer sizes.
    – Itai
    May 11, 2011 at 16:17

In the specific case for shooting that ceramic, yes perhaps a better lighting setup would be a better solution. Generally, of course, that isn't always possible.

When I was choosing a polariser, I was unsure what to go for myself, and it took me buying a cheap one to realise you do need to pay the extra to get one that works well.

I steered away from camera manufacturer own filters as I felt these had unjustified high prices as with most official accessories.

I found the Hoya Pro 1D CPLs came highly recommended, but at a high price. I hunted more and discovered Nicna have a Pro 1D series, which people were saying were as good as/very similar to the Hoya but without the high price which comes with the Hoya brand. I picked up one of the Nicna Pro 1D CPL filters off eBay and I am really pleased with the results - it's my filter range of choice now.

Note that in the specific case above I wouldn't expect a CPL to knock the entirety of the glare out - but it would do a pretty good job. How effective the polariser is depends on a lot of conditions, such as the angle of the light source relative to the direction of your camera, the surface which the light is reflecting off, etc.

Hope this helps,


I would recommend a Marumi filter; they are relatively cheap, but good. They're the OEM manufacturer for a few other quality brands. The problem is that they're hard to find, though I see you can now get them through Amazon.

As Guffa notes, you'll want a circular polarizing filter (abbreviated CPL) as linear polarizers are incompatible with most autofocus systems.

Other good brands include B&W and Hoya.

Be sure to get a multi-coated filter, to cut down on reflections. For the Marumis, this is the DHG or Super DHG lines. Polarizers aren't a good item to be cheap on; the cheap polarizers are really quite awful.

Your lenses should be marked with the proper filter size (on Nikon lenses it looks like "72ø"); if not, check the lens cap. That info will also be in the manual.

  • Actually the lens might not be marked with the filter diameter, but you can find it on the inside of the lens cap.
    – Guffa
    Aug 16, 2010 at 5:31

The diameter required for the filter is always written on the lens body.

There are different polarizers out there; For some time now you can find new ones which stop down the image by only one full stop (i.e. you need 1/100 s with filter instead of 1/200 s without filter). Older ones consume around 1.5 or more full stops (i.e. rather 1/60 instead of 1/200 s).

Hoya calls them HD (like Hoya Pol. Circ. HD Filter, 52mm), I've got multiple of these and I can recommend them. For other branches you might want to check their specs sheet (or test before buying).

You should get a circular polarizer, but it's a long time ago when I last saw a linear polarizer, so this should happen automatically anyway :)

  • Is there any other cheaper lens than hoya hd from another brand?
    – john
    Dec 10, 2011 at 6:58
  • No. Only seen the Hoya HD do that and they are worth it!
    – Zak
    Jan 15, 2012 at 15:18

Just to add something to Karel's very useful link. I think there's a saying "not to cover expensive glass with cheap glass". (Even though "cheap" may not always mean "low-quality") If you modify/filter the light with low-quality/cheap glass your expensive lens may not be able perform up to its maximum, and then the sensor/film either.

And may be investing on an expensive CPL and buying the biggest possible (may be 86 instead of 56) and buying adapters (that's relatively cheap) to match your filter screws might be an idea to think about as well. So you won't be spending money that frequently on expensive filters each and every time you buy a lens.

And stacking CPL with UV might also not be a good idea (specially if you are just using UV filter for protection) since UV filter can also modify the light to a certain degree.

Hope these will give you a start exploring more on these :)


If you can find them, get Cokin filters. I was informed (haven't yet confirmed) they were stopped being produced about 9 months ago,. You could get them relatively cheap if you hunt around for second hand gear, or try the bargain bins at your local camera store.

That way you only need one polariser. and just get an adapter ring for each lens diameter. Plus you get the bonus of adding other filters as well, ND, gradients, color effects, or the more extreme star filters.

  • I'd think about this twice before switching to a dead branch … May 13, 2011 at 13:45
  • @simon granted it is not for everyone. It does mean potentially cheaper though as 1) people aren't looking for them. 2) you only need one filter instead of a new polariser for each size
    – Stonjie
    May 14, 2011 at 0:26

If you get Hoya, make sure to get either the Pro1 Digital Circ PL, or the HD Circ PL rather than the cheaper alternatives. The Pro1 or HD is my recommendation, I've owned both. (Unfortunately had to replace the Pro1 one when my camera which was on a Tripod on a beach went for a nosedive into some sand!! Luckily the filter took the brunt of it but was scratched, which is when I replaced it with the HD). I know a lot of people recommend the B+W too, but I've not used that. I do however own a B+W 10-stop filter which is excellent so if that's anything to go by their Circ PL will be too.

Basically the filter itself is way thinner than on cheaper models which reduces vignetting and allows easier use of multiple filters should you wish to stack multiple filters. Also the more expensive ones have multi-reflective coatings to cut down on reflections and so forth.


Reviving a dead thread, just in case someone's looking for polarizers, something I didn't see mentioned is that the angle from your light source to the subject, and from the subject to the camera makes a huge difference in the effectiveness of a polarizer.

Somewhere middling where the light is off to the side is where you'll see the greatest overall reduction in the reflection / glare from your light.

No matter where your lighting is from, polarizers tend to improve color saturation by reducing glare effects. Can be very useful in landscape and product photography.

  • 3
    That's a great observation, but it really doesn't speak to the question, i.e. How do I choose a polarizer?
    – Caleb
    Mar 25, 2016 at 5:31

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