View Full Version : Basic filter question

Josh Divack
28-Sep-2004, 11:55
I am scheduled to take a workshop with Dykinga in a few weeks. The materials suggest that I bring a grad ND and a polarizer. My only lens is a Schneider 210 APO-Symmar with a 72mm thread. I use color transparency film only. I have never used or owned any filter other than a B+W KR1.5 that I keep on the lens at all times. My meter is a Pentax Digital Spotmeter. I do not use any other formats (35mm or MF) for "serious" photography. If I ultimately buy more lenses I would think they would be a 110mm Schneider Super-Symmar and a Nikon 300mm/f9.

My questions: What kind of polarizer? If I want to meter through the polarizer am I required to use a circular polarizer, or will a linear one work just fine? Kaesemann or warm? Is there such a thing as a warm Kaesemann? If so who makes it?

As to the grad ND, from what I have read on the forum I was thinking about a Lee 2 stop grad ND (which would also require me to buy an adapter ring and a holder - or would I be better off with a hood with a filter slot) - am I on the right track? Any other options?

Thanks -Josh

Glenn Kroeger
28-Sep-2004, 12:09

Most of the warm Kaesemann filters are circular. I think Heliopan still makes a warm linear Kaesemann, but it's pretty pricy ~$200 or more.

I don't find that metering through the polarizer helps much. I meter the scene, then apply the appropriate filter factor. Thus I stuck with the B+W warm top polarizer, which has the same KR1.5 as your filter, and have been very happy with the results.

The circular polarizers add a 1/4 wave plate (film) which theoretically can reduce the optical quality. Having talked with folks at B+W though, it seems that circular Kaesemann filters are quite good these days. It is mostly a matter of budget. B+W does sell warm linear and circular filters with the KR1.5 factor, but they aren't Kaesemann.

Randy Redford
28-Sep-2004, 12:34
Since you are contemplating buying additional lenses, I would strongly suggest that you purchase the filters to fit something like a 77mm lens, then all you have to do is buy step-up rings for each of your lenses to fit the 77mm filter. That keeps you from buying filters for all of the different lens sizes and gives you the added comfort of knowing that the filter will not vignette the corners since it is oversize.

28-Sep-2004, 13:51
My understanding is that circular is required where a beam splitter is used in a SLR (or meter) as this polarizes the light itself, resulting in incorrect readings due to cross-polarisation. If this is the case with the Pentax, I have no idea but in any event, the polarising effect is the same so you may as well go for the circular regardless.

I also think from past reading that the Kaesemann filter's main advantage is that it is of better quality build - selected pola film and glass & sealed edges. Optically there is unlikely to be any detectable difference between them and any other good quality filter - but that's just "book knowledge" - I've never compared them myself...

Lee seem to be the people to go with for the grad. Don't forget they do soft and hard graduation versions - the hard is favourite for landscape to darken the sky. Also, sets of 3 grads are available for a slight discount price.

Leonard Evens
28-Sep-2004, 14:13
I echo two comments previously made.

I have a Pentax Spotmeter, and I believe it does have a beam splitter. So you would need a circular polarizer to have a hope of getting an accurate reading through it.

You are probably better off not trying to read intensities through the filter but to apply an appropriate filter factor instead.

Steve Hamley
28-Sep-2004, 20:05
If you want only one, 77mm Heliopan Kaesemann warm tone. I've used one for years and it's great. Pricey but great. The price per shot is negligible.


Josh Divack
28-Sep-2004, 20:06
Thanks all. A few more questions: If I were to buy a regular polarizer and screw it onto the KR1.5, would I have the equivalent of a warm polarizer? Does multicoating make a difference for a polarizer? Regarding the Lee filters, would I want to buy the adapter and holder, or buy the adapter and the 1-slot or 2-slot lens hood? Finally, if I had to choose between the polarizer and the grad ND, for color landscape/nature, what would I pick?

Glenn Kroeger
28-Sep-2004, 22:22

Stacking a pol and your KR will work, but you get extra glass/air interfaces that increase light loss and flare. Plus, if you try this approach on a wide lens like the 110mm Super-Symmar, you will get mechanical vignetting.

As for your "future" lenses, the 110mm has a 67mm filter thread...but given the design of the front element, most like to use a spacer to keep filters from possible contact with the front element. So if you get a 72mm filter for your 210mm, it will work fine with a step-up ring on the 110mm. The 300M Nikkor has a 52mm thread. While you could use the 72mm filters with a big step up ring, I find it more convenient to get a dedicated filter for that lens (which I own!).

Traditionally, most pol were not multicoated... but B+W is now using their MRC coating on many of their pols. I have the warm linear Top pol with the MRC coating. It is a very nice coating, and very durable.

I played around with grads, but found them difficult to use except in ideal cases of flat horizons, which I almost never had! If I have a situation I can't handle in one exposure, I now take two and blend digitally in Photoshop. Given that, I would highly recommend the pol for color landscape work.

If you get the pol, be careful not to overdo it! I usually turn the pol until the effect looks good on the groundglass, then back it off a bit for a more subtle effect on film.

ronald moravec
29-Sep-2004, 06:19
Linear pol works fine on a view camera. Don`t get warm unless you want to warm up transparenies. There is no difference on film between circular and linear, just behind the lens metering with certain cameras. Use step up ring and buy a large pol to fit all lenses. I have a used 77mm tiffen for 20 bucks that works just fine.

Kasseman pol are sealed on the edges to withstand humidity better. I never has a reg pol separate though and I have a ser 6 one that is 50 years old and is fine. I bought it new.

Josh Divack
29-Sep-2004, 07:19
Glenn, I can't seem to find a B+W KR1.5 polarizer with MRC in the Schneider catalog. Do you have a model number? Also, thanks for the info on the 110mm and 300mm lenses.

Since every sheet of film that I have ever taken on the view camera has been exposed through a KR1.5 and I am used to seeing everything with the slightly warmer tone, and if there is indeed risk of flare if I stack my skylight with a plain polarizer, isn't skylight/polarizer combo the answer?

Finally, one last question, if I go with just one grad 2 stop ND for the 210mm lens, should I get a hard edge or soft edge?

Glenn Kroeger
29-Sep-2004, 07:29

I stand corrected. Actually, my warm Top pol is not MRC. I have a non-warm Top pol that is MRC.

If you are used to a KR1.5, get it and don't worry about the coating. For best results you should be using an adjustable lens shade for all shots where possible!

Kerry L. Thalmann
29-Sep-2004, 10:54
B+W does sell warm linear and circular filters with the KR1.5 factor, but they aren't Kaesemann.

I don't have it in front of me, but I'm nearly positive my B+W Warmtone Polarizer is a linear, +1.5KR, Kaesemann. When I ordered it several; years ago, I did not specifiy Kaeseman, but that's what they (Jeff at Badger Graphic) sent me - no extra charge. I suppose it's just what they happened to have in stock. I have no idea if this combo is still available.

For those who don't think a warming polarizer is necessary, several years ago Joe Englander did a comparison of a huge number of polarizers. I believe it was published in one of the last issues of Camera & Darkroom. It is also available on this site (minus color photos) in the static pages. Englander's conclusion was that most polarizers had a color cast (usually blue or green) and the B+W Warmtone was actually the most color neutral of the polarizers he tested. I've been using mine for years, and find it gives excellent color rendition.

Just one word of caution, B+W makes diferent "strengths" of warmtone polarizers. A friend of mine ordered one without specifying the strength. The one he got was a +KR3 - and it has a definite color cast that shows up on film. Not too offensive to those who like warm colors, but definitely not as neutral as the +KR1.5 version.

For the grads, the Lee system is good, but if you don't plan on using any ultrawides with huge front elements (like the 90mm or 72m Super Symmar XLs), a Cokin P-series holder and Singh-Ray grads also work well and are a little bit smaller and lighter than the Lee system. Lee even makes a version of their self-supporting lens hood that directly fits the Cokin P-series holder. The Lee is probably a "better" system, but I don't use a lot of filters (a couple glass round filters and a single Singh-Ray GND). So, the Cokin works for me.


Josh Divack
29-Sep-2004, 14:38
Kerry: Is the warm polarizer therefore more neutral than a plain KR1.5? Do you agree that a lens shade is more important than having multicoating on the polarizer? Finally, since I am trying not to break the bank, and recognizing that I have been able to survive over the last ten years without any of this gear, what would you recommend as an "order of purchase" as among the polarizer, the grad ND and/or the lens hood?

P.S.: I am -trying- to stop asking questions, without much success.

Thanks to all.

Kerry L. Thalmann
29-Sep-2004, 16:27
Is the warm polarizer therefore more neutral than a plain KR1.5?

I can't say for sure. I've never used a plain KR1.5 filter.

Do you agree that a lens shade is more important than having multicoating on the polarizer?

Yes, a good lens shade is a very versatile tool. Some of the more expensive compendium hoods might be a little more convenient to use than the Lee for Cokin self-supporting hood, but they are also bigger, heavier and quite a bit more expensive.

Finally, since I am trying not to break the bank, and recognizing that I have been able to survive over the last ten years without any of this gear, what would you recommend as an "order of purchase" as among the polarizer, the grad ND and/or the lens hood?

Tough call. I use all three. I definitely use the polarizer a lot more than the GND. Depending on the size, a B+W linear Warmtone +KR1.5 will run you about $150. The Cokin P Series holder plus adapter ring is less than $20. The Singh-Ray GNDs are almost $100 each. However, Hitech makes some GNDs that fit the Cokin P-series holder and run about $40 each. The Lee hood for the Cokin P-series holder is about $60.