Before the trend of #nofilter, or even before Instagram for that matter, photographers used all manner of filters to control the color and light of their images. Back in the heyday of film, filters such as UV filters actually made a difference, and 80B and 85B color conversion filters were popular for converting color temperatures to 5500k (Daylight) and 3200K (Tungsten), respectfully. In the digital age, some popular filters have fallen out of favor, but there are a few that remain a staple – Polarizing filters being one.
For those who don’t know, polarizing filters consist of a thin layer of film that is sandwiched between two layers of glass. The film blocks certain wavelengths of light in order to cut glare, which can darken skies and make clouds pop, saturate colors and eliminate reflections from the surfaces of water, glass, and other polished surfaces. Photographer Christopher Frost put together a short video explaining who Polarizing Filters work.
The polarizing filters are mounted in a secondary ring that you manually rotate dialing in the desired level of effect. One downside (or upside depending on use) of polarizing filters you can lose up to three stops of light, causing it to be a small variable ND filter. The results, however, cannot be easily mimicked in post production.
Popular Polarizing Filters:
- Hoya NXT Circular Polarizer Filter
- B+W F-Pro Kaesemann High Transmission Circular Polarizer MRC Filter
- Nikon Circular Polarizer II Filter
- Tiffen Circular Polarizing Filter
Available in two formats: linear and circular, polarizing filters all look identical, but serve different purposes. Linear filters are best used with manual-focus lenses, while circular Polarizing filters are designed specifically for use with autofocus lenses, as linear filters can confuse AF systems.