Should I use a Polarizing Filter with my DSLR Camera?
That is a good question and I hope to answer that in this article. I was a film photographer for 28 years before I purchased a digital camera. It was very common in the film days to use many filters stacked on a lens for different effects. Among the most common filters used were a polarizing filter, along with a cooling, warming, and neutral density filter.
Is a Polarizing Filter Necessary in the Digital Age?
I would like to review the three main reasons for using a polarizing filter:
- Increase saturation in landscapes
- Reduce glare in windows, water, or snow and ice.
- Increase the contrast between the white clouds and the blue sky and darken a hazy blue sky
Most of the above can now be accomplished in Photoshop quite easily. A 2-second hue/saturation adjustment can increase the saturation to your liking. A sky can be selected with any of the selection tools in Photoshop and be darkened while the clouds can be selected and lightened. Why then, all the fuss about the Polarizing Filter?
I teach photography to new photographers who have not dived into the Photoshop world yet and many do not even own their own copy of Photoshop. My recommendation has always been to create the image in the camera and enhance it in Photoshop. A Polarizing filter will help a new photographer in the creation of the image without the assistance of editing software.
Why I Still Use a Polarizing Filter
I have been trained to “get it right in the camera” so I always use a polarizing filter. The main reason I do however is not one of the three reasons above. I use it because it reduces the light that falls on the sensor by 2-3 stops and I combine it with a neutral density filter for even more light loss, so I can shoot at super slow shutter speeds outdoors. I love the ethereal look of using a slow shutter speed, especially for waterfalls.
Below are some shots with and without the polarizing filter. I hope you have enjoyed this article. Please comment or share it on Facebook.