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Thread: Circular polarizer or ND grad?

  1. #1
    Member thenomad's Avatar
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    Default Circular polarizer or ND grad?

    Hi all,
    Which one is better for landscapes, circular polarizer or ND grad filter?
    My understanding is that both allows you to darken a bright sky and give them better contrast.
    The difference is that the CPL works on the whole scene, whereas the ND grad is only for the sky.

    But will the effects of both filters on the sky the same?
    Meaning (sky + circular) = (sky + ND grad)?
    Both are used the darken the sky rite?

    Which one will give a better image overall?
    Thanks!

  2. #2

    Default Re: Circular polarizer or ND grad?

    this will depend what kind of effects you want to achieve in your photos.

    ND grad filter will darken the sky, makes the whole frame more even rather then the ground is not so bright while the sky is extremely bright. in this case you will either get a underexposed ground or a overexposed sky.

    on the other hand, cpl filter also will darken the whole frame to a small extent. the main purpose of the cpl is to extinguish reflections on shiny/reflective surfaces. and if you are fan of landscape shots, cpl will make your sky in the shot looks blue-er. ie, better contrast la...

    so as is said, it will still depend of what kind of effects you want and need...

  3. #3
    Senior Member giantcanopy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Circular polarizer or ND grad?

    Quote Originally Posted by thenomad View Post
    Hi all,
    Which one is better for landscapes, circular polarizer or ND grad filter?
    My understanding is that both allows you to darken a bright sky and give them better contrast.
    The difference is that the CPL works on the whole scene, whereas the ND grad is only for the sky.

    But will the effects of both filters on the sky the same?
    Meaning (sky + circular) = (sky + ND grad)?
    Both are used the darken the sky rite?

    Which one will give a better image overall?
    Thanks!
    Hi thenomad both are great accessories that perform different functions.
    The use of the polariser in this case can help give punchier colors to the skies and accentuate the bluenes and the clouds. The GND will simply darken the skies - as the neutral density implies. it does not polarise. The circular polariser will still blow the highlights e.g the sun for instance.

    As to which gives a better image overall, u have to examine what you want really.

    Ryan

  4. #4

    Default Re: Circular polarizer or ND grad?

    And by the way, CP effective only when you are pointing your camera towards the subject with the light source in correct position...else will not show up the effect you wanted.
    Cheers

  5. #5
    Member thenomad's Avatar
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    Default Re: Circular polarizer or ND grad?

    Ah, now I see the difference!
    Initially I wasn't sure of what their effects are on the sky.
    Thanks guys for the replies!

  6. #6

    Default Re: Circular polarizer or ND grad?

    Also take note that the CPL and the ND grad both reduce light and you might something like 2 stops. This depends on the filter rating anyway.

    The ND grad is used to balance the whole scene - reduce the bright sky into something more manageable and along the lines of the bottom half of the frame. Very useful when you are shooting sunsets.

    The CPL is very useful when you might want to shoot something like mountains under beautiful clear blues skies. As has been mentioned, the CPL accentuates the saturation and gives wonderful definitions to the clouds. But it reduces the light across the whole scene and this is something you might not want.

    The usual belief is that if you can buy only one filter, buy the polariser. If I were you, I'd get both to try out...they are a few value for money filters available - Hoya has some different grades of CPL I think and you could get one of them to test out first. You can get an ND grad from Tian Ya, Cokin etc. Tian Yas are cheap and you could try that as well. If you prefer a 'screw' version you could check them out as well.

    Hope this helps...

  7. #7
    Member valentinik's Avatar
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    Default Re: Circular polarizer or ND grad?

    Quote Originally Posted by VIEWSNAP View Post
    And by the way, CP effective only when you are pointing your camera towards the subject with the light source in correct position...else will not show up the effect you wanted.
    Cheers
    That would mean it works best with the sun at your 3 or 9 o'clock position.

    Get the CP first, then the ND.
    Valentinik
    Canon 5DMK2 | 24-105 f/4L | 70-200 f/2.8L IS | 100 f/2.8L IS Macro

  8. #8

    Default Re: Circular polarizer or ND grad?

    I think quite hard to find ND grad 'screw' version around. I was asking and no one seemed to carry it. Cathay had it in their price list (B+W) brand but not in stock. Had to order in.

    In the end.. bought from B&H.
    Nikon D80,D300,D700.Tokina 12-24,Tamron 90,Nikon 18-200, 70-200, 80-400, 50, 85, 17-55, 24-70 & no $

  9. #9
    Senior Member giantcanopy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Circular polarizer or ND grad?

    Quote Originally Posted by mrbinks76 View Post
    I think quite hard to find ND grad 'screw' version around. I was asking and no one seemed to carry it. Cathay had it in their price list (B+W) brand but not in stock. Had to order in.

    In the end.. bought from B&H.
    The screw version of the GND filter IMHO is not very useful because the delineation is fixed. I cannot be always shooting a 50-50 ( or watever the placement is set ) The scene you are shooting is actually limited by the filter itself. Thats why some makers such as Singh Ray do not make them in their catalogue ( unless you insist and ask them to custom make one )

    The rectangular filters allow you to place the transition with more flexibility. Some makers provide a slightly longer filter to allow extreme placement.

    That is one reason why the screw on versions are less popular than the rectangular filters.

    Ryan

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