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Insights & Thoughts

All About Polarizing Filters, and Why You Should Have One

By Anthony Thurston on July 12th 2014

Filters are not as important now as they were back before digital sensors were housed inside our cameras. Back in the day, filters were needed to influence how the image was captured by the film, now they are mostly unnecessary due to the ease of post processing.


But one form of filter is just as relevant today as it was before the rise of digital, the polarizer filter. Steve Perry, whom we have featured multiple times for his wonderful and informative YouTube tutorials, just released a instructional how to guide for polarizers and why you should have one.

I think that many new and upcoming photographers, especially those of us who have come up in the digital age, are too quick to write off most filters as unnecessary in today’s post production world, where things like SLR Lounge’s Lightroom Preset system make it easy to produce any look without the need for filters.


Just about the only filters that I own are random UV filters as extra lens protection, and my variable intensity ND filter for when I am shooting video outside. But, after watching this video, I can definitely see the benefit to using a polarizer filter in many situations and I will likely go grab one.

If you, like me, are now interested in trying out some polarizer filters you can find a great selection of them over at B&H. They have options as affordable as $18 for a Tiffen, all the way up to expensive models like the $139 for the Nikon model that he mentions in his video.


What are your thoughts on this video? Did you already know about the benefits of a polarizer, or was this old news for you? Leave a comment below!

via PetaPixel (screenshot taken from video)

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Anthony Thurston is a photographer based in the Salem, Oregon area specializing in Boudoir. He recently started a new project, Fiercely Boudoir to help support the growing boudoir community. Find him over on Instagram. You may also connect with him via Email.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Rafael Steffen

    These filters work a lot like our sunglasses. The other day I took out my sunglasses when the sunset was happening and I could not believe how much color we loose when the filter is removed.

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  2. Scott Sheppard

    There are some dirt cheap options on B&H! Going to get one to play with for sure.

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  3. Asad Qayyum

    Excellent article. I always used to think that a polarizer’s only use was to tone down / bring out the colour in the sky. I will certainly keep my polarizer handly ever time I step out now. Very useful article indeed.

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  4. Brian Stalter

    My CPL never leaves my bag – it is a must have when shooting cars outdoors. Something so simple really makes your images stand out even with car show photos (reflection and/or glare removal stands out).

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  5. Ian Moss

    I can’t imagine any serious landscape photographer being without a collection of filters. To suggest they aren’t necessary shows a profound ignorance of photography in my opinion.

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  6. Tim Broadbent

    Good info, thanks. I’m just a armature photo grafter but , yes, I have always had and still use the polariser filter, but it’s still good to get the tips . Cheers

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  7. Hannes Nitzsche

    Great video with a lot of useful information! Polarizers are a great tool but too often they end up staying in my camera bag, simply because I forget about them. Thanks for this reminder, will put it to good use :)

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  8. Michael Chapman

    I mainly shoot landscapes, and I use filters constantly, including graduated neutral density filters, and certainly circular polarizers. I agree that you’re going to spend some money (between $100 and $200) on each if you want quality – and why would you put a cheap filter on the front of some nice glass? I’m old school I suppose with using the grads in camera, just always followed a rule to try and do the most in camera that I could, then take it to post and go from there. If you are considering purchasing, I highly recommend the Lee Filters 100mm three-part foundation system of lens adapters, filter mounts, and slide-in filters, including their 105mm circular polarizer. Expensive – yes – but amazing. They even have filter kits for GoPro action cams. I also have some B+W filters. And no – I don’t work for them – just really like their products (and that’s what this site is for right? – sharing info). Here’s a link:

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    • James Matthews

      I can vouch for Lee as well. I have the filter system, .9 ND, .9 soft G ND, .9 hard G ND and the big stopper.

      Best purchase I ever made. Top quality.

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  9. Steve Enoch

    Very helpful article. I have been thinking on and off about buying one but his point out not being able to achieve the same effect with post processing had never really occurred to be but now seems so obvious. :) Anyways, great article.

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  10. Herm Tjioe

    I was not aware polarizer filter is a rather new “must have” item in our bag. I guess me being old school is why I always purchase new polarizer with the new lens I buy.

    Now, variable ND is a relative new item for me. I see so much more benefit of having one , now that the cam serves a dual purpose.

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    • Anthony Thurston

      Its not a new item, just an old item that is easily overlooked. Taking myself as an example, I have been aware of polarizers and what they do for quite a long time, but a video like this is a nice reminder about the benefits of using one.

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    • Herm Tjioe

      The video you linked does have few informative gems. I didn’t know about how older polarizers wreak havoc to the DSLR metering system. Good to know not to interchange it.

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  11. Jeff Lopez

    Great information. Thanks.

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