Lee Filters Landscape Polariser Review
Updated: Sep 15, 2020
This week I thought I would do a review of a product that all landscape photographers should own, The polarising filter.
So why should you own one of these ? What can they do to improve your photography ? Can you live without one ?
All questions I hope to be able to answer and give you a bit of background into as well.
What is a Polariser ?
The basics of a polarising filter are pretty simple really, it’s a small filter that goes in front of the lens that when twisted will remove glare from water or shiny surfaces.
This comes in handy more often than you would think and don't for a second feel it is only useful near water because it will aid your exposures on areas like shiny rocks too, not to mention adding beautiful saturation to your images and a real punch.
Have you ever seen those shots where the sky is a beautiful punchy blue colour ? But when you have tried yourself it never comes out quite the same ? Well, chances are the photographer was using a Polarising filter.
The filter itself looks just like a piece of clear flat glass but it is in fact full of what can be described as microscopic slats which manage the light and glare.
Twist it one way and it will block the light, the other and it allows it through. This means that reflections or polarised light can now be blocked out of an image.
There are several bits of software that claim to offer a polarised effect but none of them can actually successfully reproduce the effect of a manual polariser and I wouldn't recommend using them at all, As I've said many times, get it right "in camera" and then you won't need to post process.
You can use a polariser to good effect in most situations but its at its most effective and noticeable if you use it at an angle of 90 degrees to the sun.
When using a polariser it also has the added benefit of increasing your exposure by up to 1 + 2/3rd's of a stop as well which is very handy for the type of shots where you want to add a slight bit of movement to your image.
Polarisers come in two varieties usually, Circular or CPL as they are usually better known or Linear.
The name doesn't refer to the shape of the filter, it's to do with the way the light is modified as it passes through the filter itself.
If you're using a digital autofocus SLR camera where you rely on the cameras metering system then you will need to make sure you only use the Circular Polariser, due to the way the Linear polariser allows light through it will mess with your cameras metering function. If you are using a manual focus non metered camera then you can use either type of filter without any issues.
Polarisers are mainly mounted on the front of the lens where they screw in, then usually a filter ring is placed over the top of it to which you attach your graduated filters (you all know how much i rave about these)
This system however brings its own issues, if you are using polyester graduated filters then they should be behind the Polariser and not in front of it.
Top quality versions like Lee Filters Grads are made from resin so the problem doesn't happen but well worth noting if you do use the polyester type.
The other issue I have found with these polarisers that fit directly to the front is that rotating them when they have a filter ring attached can prove very difficult and in some cases the filter itself can twist round in the middle of a shot which obviously causes a great deal of issue.
If only someone would make a front mounted Polariser that can rotate independently of the graduated filters I hear you cry ! Well, they did. Enter the Lee Polariser.