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07-15-2011, 12:11 PM   #1
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using polarizer and grad filters on wideangle

I am having difficulty using either a circular polarizer or a ND grad filter on a wide-angle lens (either the 12-24 or 16-50 at 16mm). There is always vignetting. Please tell me what I'm doing wrong because I'm really trying to improve my landscape photography for a trip to Ireland in the fall. Thanks!

07-15-2011, 12:20 PM   #2
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Do you have a UV or similar filter on the lenses already?
07-15-2011, 12:30 PM   #3
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Yes I do. I have a UV filter to protect the lens. Do I need to take it off? I'm thinking I should buy a square filter system but I'm not really ready to make the leap.
07-15-2011, 12:30 PM   #4
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I believe that C-PL will not work on wide-angle lenses.

07-15-2011, 12:35 PM   #5
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Usually a circular polarizer will not work with a wide angle lens due to the nature of wide angle lenses and how it takes in light. However, I do not see why a neutral density would not work.
07-15-2011, 12:37 PM   #6
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Is it pointless to use a circular polarizer on a wide-angle and only use a ND grad. My ND grad is a circular B+W 77mm.
07-15-2011, 12:38 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by aherpel Quote
I am having difficulty using either a circular polarizer or a ND grad filter on a wide-angle lens (either the 12-24 or 16-50 at 16mm). There is always vignetting. Please tell me what I'm doing wrong because I'm really trying to improve my landscape photography for a trip to Ireland in the fall. Thanks!
I don't know your particular lenses but there is a small chance that you are not doing anything wrong. Certain very wide angle lenses are simply built that way. (In the old days some lenses were built with an option for filters at the rear end of the lens).

I suggest you consult the manuals for those lenses. However, the most obvious explanation is that you stack your filter on top of a UV-filter or similar as suggested by JohnX above.

You can read a bit more about this problem - and about the use of filters in digital photography - here:

Choosing a Camera Lens Filter

EDIT: Ooops - to late: You have alredy given the answer yourself! You may still want to read the link above - I find it very good reading!

Last edited by Stone G.; 07-15-2011 at 12:40 PM. Reason: Oops too late
07-15-2011, 12:42 PM   #8
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Actually both should work on the lens - look into the Slim-Line filters (and obviously not stacking them)...


B&W | B+W CPL 77MM Slim-Line Multi-Coated Mrc Filter Kaesemann Circular Polarizer Reviews – B&W 66025844 | Best CPL Filter Review | Circular Polarizer filters. B/W | Marumi | 77 mm




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07-15-2011, 01:17 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by aherpel Quote
I am having difficulty using either a circular polarizer or a ND grad filter on a wide-angle lens (either the 12-24 or 16-50 at 16mm). There is always vignetting. Please tell me what I'm doing wrong because I'm really trying to improve my landscape photography for a trip to Ireland in the fall. Thanks!
You're probably doing nothing wrong, but the 12-24 @12mm is reaaallly wide! It will "vignette" on all but the slimmest of screw-on filters, and for landscapes, the best way to use ND filters is a square system. The reason for a square filter is because graduated neutral density filters (which can equalize the difference between bright sky and darker land) can be moved (in the filter holder) to be anywhere (and any angle) in your composition. If you don't want vignetting, then a larger square system like Cokin Z-Pro is what you want for the 12-24 even @12mm, and can do more than just reduce light overall.

When it comes to polarizers (circular or otherwise), they definitely have a use with wide-angle lenses, so get a very good and very slim one. The reason they might sometimes appear to have less of an effect is because the polarization is most effective when perpendicular to the source of light (the sun), and many folks naively only use polarizers on sunny days near noon! A very wide angle lens might show a full 90-degree spread of the land/ sky - so at the height of day the polarizer creates dark bands in the sky or variations in the polarization effect across the angles of incidence.

However, I've found that my Marumi DHG-Super CPL (slim) could've been welded to my 12-24, mainly because on overcast days, or when the sun is very low in the sky (prime photography times), the polarization doesn't cause banding (if you're aware of where the sun is) and the results are much better than an un-polarized lens. Of course, the Marumi is one of the best slim-CPLs you can get, so YMMV with cheaper ones.

Last edited by panoguy; 07-15-2011 at 01:24 PM.
07-15-2011, 01:22 PM   #10
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aside from the vignetting caused by the field of view of the lens and interverence with the filter ring, especially when stacked, I find that a polarizer on an ultra wide is not the best idea as this results in very non uniform illumination in the sky unless the lighting is directly behind or in front of you.

a graduated ND is very useful however, but again you should not stack the filters. Yopu can sometimes stack filters if you get a stepping ring, and use filters that are much larger (and more expensive) than the diameter of the accessory thread, but this means shooting without a hood.
07-15-2011, 07:08 PM   #11
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I don't have the same lens, but have used cpl filters on wide angle lenses without incident. It's true that under some circumstances, you'll end up with uneven effects, particularly visible in the sky, but you have to balance that against other positive effects the filter may have.

You generally can't stack filters on a wide angle lens, but on my lenses (10-20mm sigma on APS, 17mm on full-frame), I haven't needed "thin" filters.

My grad filters are cokin; I don't know that there would be a lot of value to a traditional circular format for a grad filter. Cokin filters have their own issues (at least mine are "gray" and not ND, and of course they're plastic), but the ability to shift the grad division is absolutely essential.

Paul
07-15-2011, 08:05 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by aherpel Quote
I am having difficulty using either a circular polarizer or a ND grad filter on a wide-angle lens (either the 12-24 or 16-50 at 16mm). There is always vignetting. Please tell me what I'm doing wrong because I'm really trying to improve my landscape photography for a trip to Ireland in the fall. Thanks!
To avoid vignetting the filter must be a large diameter; apparently the UV filter you are now using does not vignette so there's a good chance replacing the UV filter with the same sized ND filter or even CPL will be ok.

To be safe one can always buy a step-up filter adapter and use a filter even larger than your UV filter. I use stacked 72mm polarizing filters on my da 18-55 and it is far from vignetting at 18mm focal length.

There's nothing inherently wrong with using a cpl on a wide lens. It may cause uneven darkening of a blue sky (called "banding") but that's the only problem I'm aware of. It will continue to cut reflections from windows, water, etc.
07-20-2011, 02:37 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by aherpel Quote
Yes I do. I have a UV filter to protect the lens. Do I need to take it off? I'm thinking I should buy a square filter system but I'm not really ready to make the leap.
Yes you do. Stacking the filters effectively forms a tube which will cause vignetting. Take the UV filter off; try the CPL or Grad instead. Should be ok with one filter on (at a time).
07-21-2011, 10:23 AM   #14
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wouldn't using a step up ring and a filter(s) with a larger diameter then the lens filter threads work to avoid the vignetting?
07-21-2011, 10:38 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by littledrawe Quote
wouldn't using a step up ring and a filter(s) with a larger diameter then the lens filter threads work to avoid the vignetting?
Yes it would.
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