Polarizers vs Red filters for B&W???

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous Equipment' started by nyoung, Mar 7, 2009.

  1. nyoung

    nyoung Member

    Messages:
    371
    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2006
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Shooting mostly color over the past 5 years or so I've acquired polarizing screens to fit all my lenses.

    When I used to shoot B&W almost exclusively, I used a red filter fairly often to enhance my skies and clouds.

    What do you guys think of the relative effects of the red filter vs the polarizer in B&W?

    Will I be missing something if I just standardize on the polarizers in color and B&W?
     
  2. AgX

    AgX Member

    Messages:
    11,921
    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2007
    Location:
    Germany
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    The effect of a polarizer is dependent of the angle of the sun with the optical axis. In contrast to a colour filter.
     
  3. Mark Fisher

    Mark Fisher Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,678
    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2003
    Location:
    Chicago
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Which also means that the effect can vary across the sky...particularly with wide angle lenses. Colored filters also work where the light is diffuse.
     
  4. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

    Messages:
    25,773
    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2005
    Location:
    Rochester, NY
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    This is like comparing apples and oranges to me. Both fruit, but different, both filters but different.

    You would have to compare the effects to decide which you prefer for a given scene.

    PE
     
  5. DWThomas

    DWThomas Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,899
    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2006
    Location:
    SE Pennsylvania
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    A polarizer can be used to alter reflections which a red filter won't deal with -- I see them as pretty different in application. I suppose we could say they both darken a sky, but the polarizer can be more selective, and as mentioned above, less uniform in some conditions.

    DaveT
     
  6. tiberiustibz

    tiberiustibz Member

    Messages:
    1,749
    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2007
    Location:
    Tufts Univer
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Red filters for B+W, polarizers for color work as far as I'm concerned
     
  7. Colin Corneau

    Colin Corneau Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,871
    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2007
    Location:
    Brandon, MB
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Filters also affect more than just the sky - foliage, for example.
     
  8. phenix

    phenix Member

    Messages:
    218
    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2008
    Location:
    penguin-cold
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    It is difficult to use polarizers with RFs and TLRs...
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 7, 2009
  9. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

    Messages:
    25,773
    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2005
    Location:
    Rochester, NY
    Shooter:
    Multi Format

    This answer is too simplistic. You cannot make the dividing line between B&W and color but rather between effect desired.

    For example, a polarizer will allow you to "look into" water regardless of sun angle but this is independant of film type. OTOH, the red filter will not affect the reflections from the water.

    Red should not be used for color though. That is right.

    PE
     
  10. dpurdy

    dpurdy Member

    Messages:
    2,230
    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2006
    Location:
    Portland OR
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    A linear polarizer is variable in affect. Try using the Red filter along with a polarizer for drama. Better use a tripod though.
     
  11. phenix

    phenix Member

    Messages:
    218
    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2008
    Location:
    penguin-cold
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Not even with color IR film? :D
     
  12. Adrian Twiss

    Adrian Twiss Member

    Messages:
    623
    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2004
    Location:
    Wigan (oop N
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Polarizers do not have the haze cutting abilities that the red filter has. If you want to darken the sky but still have a sense of recession but allowing distant objects to be "hazy" then the polarizer will do the job better than the red filter. This would also apply if you were photographing mist but still wanted a darker sky. I understand that green filters (as opposed to yellow green) have similar properties.
     
  13. Martin Aislabie

    Martin Aislabie Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,416
    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2007
    Location:
    Stratford-up
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    I have both Red and other coloured filters together with a Polariser.

    The effects are different.

    As many of the previous posts have indicated you need to try them out to see how they affect your sort of photography.

    The weather, atmospheric conditions and subject matter all have major influences on the effects you get – so unfortunately there is no one size fits all rule – you have to work it out for yourself.

    If you are going to do more B&W work, then you might quickly find that only having a Red coloured filter is rather limiting – Red can be a very harsh, and you might need a range of filter colours to give more subtle effects.

    Personally, I only shoot B&W and have over the years built up a range of 7 different coloured filters plus a Polariser for each of the filter sizes I have.
    90% of my work can be covered with a medium yellow, a medium orange and a yellow/green filter.

    Of all the Filters I own the Red filter and the Polariser are the least used – but it’s a very personal choice – YMMV

    Good luck

    Martin
     
  14. Q.G.

    Q.G. Inactive

    Messages:
    5,682
    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2007
    Location:
    Netherlands
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    A personal choice indeed, but not one that is not shared.

    I too do not use the red and polarizer filters much.
    The polarizer dulls things terribly, and is of very limited use.
    The red filter is not a correction filter, but well and truly an effect filter, and the effect is not very often called for.
     
  15. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

    Messages:
    25,773
    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2005
    Location:
    Rochester, NY
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Well, that depends on how much of the magenta layer you want to expose. Usually, you want to use a yellowish filter to prevent blue exposure to all 3 layers but still capture 3 colors.

    With B&W IR you can use yellow or preferrably red.

    PE
     
  16. DJGainer

    DJGainer Member

    Messages:
    150
    Joined:
    May 10, 2006
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Shoot a couple of frames with the polarizer and compare to your older B&W shots with the red filter. Try to find the same or similar scenes for a more reliable comparison. This will give you an idea of the relative effects of red vs. polarizing filter.

    As some have said, the red filter will change the values and relationships of the lightwaves reflecting off the objects in your scene. This means that blues and greens will be darker than they appear to the naked eye, and reds and oranges will be lighter than they appear to the naked eye.

    A polarizer does something different entirely. It changes the angles of reflections of lightwaves if used at appropriate angles to the sun. This reduces light reflection off water, darkens blue skys, results in more saturated and vibrant colors.

    So, like I said, shoot some frames with the polarizer and b&w film and you can decide for yourself which look you like. You can combine them as well.
     
  17. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

    Messages:
    8,197
    Joined:
    May 9, 2005
    Location:
    Daventry, No
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I have found that with a 35mm camera on a bright day and ISO 400 film a red filter plus polariser still give speeds that are handholdable. It is a dramatic effect and in the right scene well worthwhile doing. If you want to use a tripod then fine but if you don't normally carry one then check the shutter speeds obtainable with both filters. I'd be surprised if you cannot handhold at said shutter speeds.

    Depending on your latitude, lens and desired aperture and of course light conditions, you might manage handholding at ISO100 withn the combo of red plus polariser.


    pentaxuser
     
  18. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

    Messages:
    8,004
    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2008
    Location:
    Los Angeles,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    You should use the filter or filters that give you the effect you want for a given picture. Red filters and polarizing filters do totally different things. Polarizers change the direction of light rays entering the lens, and colored filters *effectively* (not *actually*) change the spectral sensitivity of your film.

    For 95% of pix, I don't use filters. If I had to make some sort of blanket rule for myself, based on this examination of what I do naturally, it would be to use NO filters. However, who needs to make arbitrary blanket rules? I use filters every now and then, depending on the picture. Usually yellow, yellow-green, or orange. Sometimes blue or red (and very very very rarely will I use red if there is a blue sky in the composition). I have even used a polarizer a handful of times, though they frustrate me trying to figure out where to set the darned thing. I hate having to fiddle when trying to catch a certain light.

    As for the "red should not be used for color" statement...well, yes, it should be, if you want your entire picture to be tinted red!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 8, 2009