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Polarizer or ND


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#1 Jan Weis

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Posted 13 March 2007 - 11:34 AM

I'm considering purchasing a Polarizer filter for outdoor filming. One of my reasons is to cut a large amount of light (atleast 2-3 stops) so I can decrease the depth in field since Im using a highspeed film (Reala 500D 8592). I will be shooting outside a bright and sunny day near & on a lake so there will be plenty if not too much light avalable. My second reason is that i've read that the polarizer filter increases the saturation and darkens the picture (obvious with any filter). This is where my little dilemma steps in, wouldnt a ND filter do roughly the same job, if not better? Because I have heard that if a polarizer filter is used, the amount of light (reflected) will change as the angle changes from the light source, in my case the sun, where as an ND filter will be completely stable.

To some this up, what is a better choice in my case, an ND or a Polarizer filter?

thanks!

/Jan Weis
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#2 Jan Weis

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Posted 13 March 2007 - 03:45 PM

Bump.. hope nobody minds.
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#3 Troy Warr

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Posted 13 March 2007 - 04:25 PM

Hi Jan,

Unless you're after the bump in color saturation, I'd recommend the ND filter. When used with motion pictures, the polarizer can cause problems with camera movement/panning relative to the sun (for the reasons that you mentioned), and depending on your shooting angle it may also eliminate surface reflections to "cut through" the surface of the lake. While that's an interesting effect, it doesn't look natural, assuming that realism is what you're after.

An ND filter will not have a noticeable effect on the picture - it will simply give you a chance to use a larger aperture for reduced DOF. If that's all that you're looking for, then it's a perfect match for your needs. Also be sure to get a good quality, multi-coated filter and a proper lens hood or matte box to reduce flare. Depending on your general shooting needs, as well as your lenses of choice, you may also want to consider buying a couple of ND2 filters (e.g. as opposed to a single ND4 filter) and stacking them, so that in situations with less light (cloudy days, dawn/dusk) you can easily remove one to preserve the f-stop/DOF. Keep in mind that this is less practical with wide-angle lenses, both because filter sizes are generally larger and filters are therefore more expensive, and because stacked filters can cause vignetting.

Hope that helps!
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#4 Jan Weis

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Posted 13 March 2007 - 04:52 PM

Troy thanks for clearing things up a bit for me, I'm gonna go with the ND filter because of your wonderful reasoning also because it simply makes more sense. I'm not regretting learning cinematography but its quite a lot of work, knowing all the details and keeping track of the equipment, so thank you Troy for making my life a bit easier!

/Jan
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#5 Troy Warr

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Posted 13 March 2007 - 05:32 PM

Sure thing, Jan - glad I could help!

Incidentally, if you're shooting 16mm and haven't already read the Malkiewicz/Mullen book "Cinematography," I'd highly recommend it. It's on the top left of this page - *well* worth the money and a very succinct primer on all of the major aspects of shooting motion pictures.

Best of luck to you!
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#6 Michael Nash

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Posted 13 March 2007 - 05:34 PM

A polarizer can increase apparent color saturation in some objects by filtering out some of the surface sheen. The color is the same, just not masked by extra reflected light.

ND filters don't affect the appearance of color saturation. It's just an overall reduction of light across all colors (hence "neutral").
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#7 Jan Weis

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Posted 14 March 2007 - 04:57 PM

Sure thing, Jan - glad I could help!

Incidentally, if you're shooting 16mm and haven't already read the Malkiewicz/Mullen book "Cinematography," I'd highly recommend it. It's on the top left of this page - *well* worth the money and a very succinct primer on all of the major aspects of shooting motion pictures.

Best of luck to you!



I have read parts of the 2nd edition of ''Cinematography'' and its an overwhelming yet captivating book. It may be outdated when it comes to the sound,editing,post production sections but its still an excellent read.

Btw I feel really silly not checking the book for an answer before I asked here on cinematography.com, I guess the internet has made me unconciously lazy...

thanks again Troy and good luck with your HD shooting!

/Jan
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#8 Dory Breaux DP

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Posted 30 March 2007 - 01:16 PM

The polarizer will cut through the reflections on the waters surface. If you want the enhanced color, go with a ND and an Enhancer filter. Not sure what order to stack them though...
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