A beginner’s guide to using the polarizing filter

The neutral density filter and polarizing filter are the two most important types of lens filters in photography.

Although the ND filter is generally used a bit more often, the polarizing filter is also very helpful.

We will discuss what a polarizing filter is, how it works and the benefits of using one in your photography in the blog post.

Guide to how to use the polarizing filter/ What is a polarizing filter?

An easy-to-use, screw-in camera lens filter that modifies the look of a photo is the polarizing filter.

The primary purposes of a polarizing filter, also known as a polarizer, are to enhance clear skies, enhance or saturate colors, and reduce shadows, glare, and haze in photographs. To work, a polarized filter must block all polarized (reflected) light.

A polarizing filter helps offset the washed-out look that polarized light can often give photos to produce images that are more colorful.

Polarizing lens filters are especially appreciated by those who enjoy outdoor and nature photography because they can minimize the number of unwanted effects, such as shiny reflections on wet ground or trees and bushes, and improve image colors, depth or intensity.

Simply put, polarizing filters help breathe new life into dull photos by increasing their contrast, color saturation and richness.

Polarizing filters can have a significant impact on your photos, especially if you use natural light a lot. As a result, it is very important to learn how they work.

The next section discusses the types of polarizing filters available to photographers today.

The two types of polarizing filters

There are two different types of polarizing filters which are;

  • Circular polarizing filter
  • Linear polarizing filter

The difference between these two varieties has to do with how light waves pass through them rather than the geometry of the filter. Only horizontal or vertical light waves are allowed to pass through a linear polarizer when it is rotated.

Although it is also sensitive to linearly polarized light, a circular polarizing filter, on the other hand, allows circularly polarized light waves to flow through the lens.

There is not much difference between a circular polarizing filter and a linear polarizing filter, the only thing is that an extra piece of glass called a quarter wave plate is placed next to the circular polarizing filter which allows the light to be circularly polarized.

All DSLR cameras can use circular polarizing filters, but not linear polarizers. Errors in light metering and autofocus are caused by linear polarizers. Therefore, circular polarizing filters are quite versatile and can be used with a variety of camera types.

How can new photographers use a polarizing filter

Without going into too much scientific detail, a polarizer simply filters out a certain percentage of light waves, giving your camera's sensor less light and potentially reducing glare or reflection.

So to use a polarizer, simply attach it to the front of your lens and adjust it until you're happy with the result.

In reality, polarizing filters provide the same function as sunglasses, essentially allowing your camera to see the world as you would if you were wearing sunglasses.

Light waves can travel in a variety of directions, so it is easy to imagine that the polarizing filter acts as a sort of sieve, allowing only specific light waves to pass through.

The direction of the light waves that can enter your camera varies if the filter is rotated, which also affects the overall lighting and brightness of your image.

In other words, you can actually change the amount of polarization in your images as you collect them.

Read Also: 3 Ways to Use a Canon A 1 35mm Camera

Advantages of using a polarizing filter

We have seen what a polarizer is and how it works. The question now is, are there advantages to using a polarizing filter? Yes, there is! This section shows four benefits of using a polarizing filter, especially for your landscape shots.

1. A polarizing filter improves the color of the sky in photos

Although they usually make the sky more vivid and dark, polarizers don't always make the sky look better in your photos.

Using a polarizing filter can provide a nice contrast, and if it seems too black for your taste, you can simply lighten it while editing the photo.

The “polarizer sky,” which occurs when a polarizer is used on a wide-angle lens at a specific angle to the sun, is a typical problem.

This results in an extremely slanted or uneven sky, which can be very distracting. In this case, either the polarizer must be removed or the photographer can change it while editing the images.

2. Polarizing filters make colors look better

One example where you can use a polarizer is to take better pictures on a sunny day.

This is because even when the sun is shining, your photos can look dull and this cannot be fixed during editing. So the best option is to use a polarizing filter.

Color saturation will differ noticeably, especially for shinier objects. Generally speaking, using a polarizer results in less post-production work and more beautiful images straight out of the camera.

3. Contrast is manipulated by polarizers by removing glare

Even the surfaces you don't often think of as reflective can exhibit glare. Images can be softened and the contrast between very bright and very dark parts can be reduced by using polarizers.

In most cases, they also increase the dynamic range and provide a more aesthetically acceptable image.

Depending on how reflective an object is, polarizers have the ability to both increase and decrease contrast.

4. Polarizers remove reflection

If you've ever tried to photograph a stunning beach but could only capture the glare from the water, you'll appreciate the need for polarizing filters.

You can use a polarizer to filter out the extra light rays and solve this problem. All that is needed is for you to take your photo after turning the filter until the glare is gone.


Taking pictures in the best possible light is so important.

A polarizing filter helps you do this, whether it's a photo of a sunny day, or of natural elements like trees or grass, using a polarizing filter will enhance the colors in your photographs more than any editing app would.

So, should you try using a polarizing filter on your camera? We'd love to hear your thoughts.


When should you not use a polarizing filter?

The fact that polarizers work best at a 90° angle from the sun is one of the most crucial. This means that you should almost never use a polarizer facing the sun. For shots involving the sun, it's also a good idea to remove the filter as the extra glass can cause more flare.

How do you expose with a polarizing filter?

The optimal viewing angle for polarizing filters is 90 degrees from the sun. This is a great method to get the most out of your filter.
But you have to be careful when shooting a wide-angle shot because of the uneven polarization of the sky. As it moves away from the sun, you will begin to see a change in the color of the blue.

How do you use a polarizing filter?

Just turn the ring to start the polarizing effect when using it. As you turn the filter ring, remember to keep an eye on your image on the LCD screen or in the viewfinder. The amount of glare and saturation in your photo will fluctuate as you turn the polarizer, which you will notice.

Which is better UV filter or polarizing filter?

The best option for lens protection is a UV filter, although a CPL filter is great for changing color, preventing lens flare, and reducing reflections and glare.

Can I leave the polarizing filter on all the time?

A polarizing filter is good for taking certain photos. However, a polarizing filter should not always be left on your lenses as it reduces light transmission and can result in the sky appearing to have an uneven slope when using wide-angle lenses.

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