Are all polarising filters equal? – Part 2

In this the second part of our review on polarising filters we assess their ability to increase saturation of colour and the ability to reduce reflections.

Since this is the primary reason for using a polarising filter, it is essential to choose well. Lets be honest, we all have items among camera kit that we have purchased because it seemed a bargain at the time, just to be let down by quality.

As in the first part of our test, once again we used a Nikon D800 with 24-85mm lens mounted on a Manfrotto 055 tripod. Aperture priority at f11 was selected, daylight balance and images saved as NEF, assessed on a calibrated monitor and subsequently converted to Jpeg for publishing purpose.

Why do we assess NEF images as opposed to Jpeg or Tiff image files?
A NEF (Nikon proprietary version of a RAW file) is a file without any enhancements made by the camera to correct for lens distortion, colour balance and vignetting.

Build quality.

Apart from image quality (which is essential) another quality area to consider is how smoothly the polarising ring rotates. It will come as no surprise that the JYC filter came out bottom, not by much, but enough to notice a difference. The Hoya, Kenko and Haida filters were all smooth to operate, once again however, the STC filters nudged their way to the top by being just that bit smoother still.

The saturation test.

This time we place ourselves with the sun over our right shoulder and looking out to sea with blue sky and a few white clouds.

How did our collection of filters fare?

Sadly for the JYC filter it is once again ranked bottom, whilst it did darken and increase the saturation of the sky, it was not the most effective filter in the group.
Next we have the safe and predictable the Hoya, Kenko and Haida filters all doing a good job all round.
The STC ND64 polarising filter again made a very good job of darkening the sky and increasing colour saturation, slightly worrying was the slight yellow shift, although this can be remedied by a quick tweak in an image editor.
Likewise the STC hybrid filter was very effective in producing a clean, darker and well saturated image.

     Without polarising filter

     JYC polarising filter

     Hoya polarising filter

     Kenko polarising filter

     Haida polarising filter

     STC ND64 polarising filter

     STC hybrid polarising filter

The polarising test.

What better subject to try reducing reflections on, than water!
All the filters produced very good results in this test and this time no colour shifts were obvious.
It would be unfair to declare an out right winner of this section.
Interestingly according to the STC website, the Hybrid polarising filter does not polarise light to the same level as a regular polarising filter due to its being a hybrid filter, although it was hard to see much of a difference in our tests.

     Without filter

     JYC polarising filter

     Hoya polarising filter

     Kenko polarising filter

      Haida polarising filter

     STC ND64 polarising filter

     STC hybrid polarising filter

Conclusion

If you are on a tight budget, rarely photograph subjects that include blue sky or have reflective surfaces and do not make enlargements then a JYC polarising filter will suffice.
Spending slightly more money on either a Haida, Hoya or Kenko polarising filter will provide a better filter that will produce good images for all round use.
Should you take your photography seriously or like us take photographs for living, need filters that do not degrade your image and work effectively. The only option is to purchase a STC polarising filter.

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