Most people have probably heard of polarization, but many are unfamiliar with what it actually is. You might assume that it’s sciencey-sounding mumbo-jumbo designed to sell more expensive sunglasses, but if you’ve ever actually worn polarized glasses, you’ll realize that’s not the case. Not only do polarized glasses reduce unwanted glare from things like the surface of water or the dashboard of a car, they actually make colors look clearer and more vibrant. The way light affects your eyes is not dissimilar from how it affects a camera lens, which makes a polarized lens one of the most important ones a photographer can have in their bag.
Like it does for your eyes, a polarized photography lens reduces glare, makes colors more vibrant, and produces crispness, clarity, and contrast. If you take photos outdoors, your polarized lens is one that you’ll find yourself frequently reaching for. That may still leave you wondering what, exactly, polarization is. Encyclopedia Britannica defines it as a “property of certain electromagnetic radiations in which the direction and magnitude of the vibrating electric field are related in a specified way.” Okay, maybe that doesn’t clear it up, but polarization, when applied to lenses, is a way of filtering out certain wavelengths of light that can wash out an image. Perhaps the best way to understand polarization is to pick up one of these lenses and see it for yourself.
1. Tiffen 77mm Circular Polarizer
This polarization lens from Tiffen can help when shooting blue skies, as it deepens and brightens the hue when compared to not using a filter. The lens is manufactured in the US, and it comes with a 10-year warranty.
Pros: Does a good job reducing glare, brings out the blueness in the sky, doesn’t add haze or unwanted color.
Cons: Some reviewers had problems when using a wide-angle lens.
2. AmazonBasics UV Protection Lens Filter and Circular Polarizer Lens Set
This affordable set from AmazonBasics includes a UV protection lens and a polarizer lens. The listing makes it easy to choose the right size; the range is from 52 to 82mm. The UV filter helps reduce ultraviolet light, as well as protecting the lens from dust and dirt.
Pros: Affordable circular polarizer and UV protection lens kit, available in a wide range of sizes.
Cons: Flares and hazing can occur with these lenses.
3. Altura Photo Professional Photography Filter Kit
If you need a variety of filters, this kit includes a UV filter, a circular polarizer, and a neutral density filter. The latter filter is designed to help the photographer control light exposure. This kit includes a padded carrying pouch and a microfiber cloth for cleaning.
Pros: Filters can be stacked when shooting to maximize image quality, affordable kit includes 3 kinds of filters and a carrying pouch.
Cons: Some found the neutral density filter to be not as high quality.