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Old September 17th, 2011, 12:31 PM   #1
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Polarizing filter on grey days?

Any benefit to using a tiffen circular polarizing filter on my EX1R on a mostly cloudy day outside? Usually use it to great effect on very bright days, but not sure if need it for grey days.
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Old September 17th, 2011, 03:23 PM   #2
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Re: Polarizing filter on grey days?

On gray days the light is well scattered and a polarizer won't do anything for you.

They work best when all the light rays from a source are all parallel with each other. Not what you have on an overcast day.
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Old September 17th, 2011, 04:54 PM   #3
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Re: Polarizing filter on grey days?

I started using a Polarizing filter for outdoor video, but soon stopped because soon as you pan or even move the camera you lose the polarizing effect .. and intercutting non polarized with polarized sky can be very noticeable.

They're good for some effects, like removing reflections in glass but imo polarizors are essentially a tool for still camera use.

Outdoors on a sunny or cloudy day better to use a graduated ND filter, some can drop the sky 2 stops, increasing exposure definition on the ground.

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Old September 18th, 2011, 12:18 AM   #4
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Re: Polarizing filter on grey days?

Very helpful, thanks for replies - guess I'll be extremely picky from now on whether I use a polarizer or not.

Thanks
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Old September 18th, 2011, 09:41 AM   #5
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Re: Polarizing filter on grey days?

I don't think it is limited to sunny days. You can still reduce reflections of water or car windows on an overcast day. Like anything else, it's a tool that has a specific purpose and not appropriate for just leaving it on all the time.

A agree there are time that a grad will work better, especially if the entire sky is not polarizing properly, but equally, there are times that it will work better than, or better in conjunction with a grad.

Bring it along and experiment.
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Old September 18th, 2011, 04:28 PM   #6
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Re: Polarizing filter on grey days?

As Chuck says, there are many things that will be affected by the use of a polarizing filter on cloudy days. These are things that have some degree of reflectivity, and particularly ones that are at a specific angle (around 57 degrees I believe).
A pola filter can be invaluable when shooting through a car windshield on a grey day. You may also find that in shooting foliage, you can minimize reflections coming off waxy leaves, and thus enhance their color saturation. Even road glare can be adjusted.
Of course on a gray day the polarizing filter isn't going to make the sky blue...
Be careful when using a pola filter with LCD screens in shot - many are polarized to begin with, and an improperly adjusted filter can make a display screen look completely black.
One other thing to watch out for - in minimizing reflections in one plane (horizontal) you will often be maximizing them in the other direction (vertical). As an example - say you want to cut down on glare off a bald head (yes, a polarizer can help!) you will be simultaneously emphasizing the reflections from the skin oils on the sides of the face.
The moral of the story - take a good look at your WHOLE shot when adjusting the filter - to make sure it's not only doing what you want, but also not doing what you don't want.
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Old September 18th, 2011, 09:56 PM   #7
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Re: Polarizing filter on grey days?

Really appreciate the useful advice given on these forums - so I tend to use the polar filter on very bright days outside.

I did shoot on a grey day recently, and the shots seemed the same as without it...good reminder for me re: shooting through car windows though, which I might be doing soon - I'll use the filter then.
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Old September 19th, 2011, 08:21 AM   #8
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Re: Polarizing filter on grey days?

I have a .6 ND grad filter and a polarizer pretty much permanently mounted in my matte box no matter which of my cameras I'm using. I rarely take them out of the box when I'm shooting outside during daylight -- regardless of the weather. I like the look they give me in all types of situations.
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