CPL filters, also known as circular polarizing lenses, are essential for photographers, videographers, and filmmakers alike. They offer a range of effects that can add depth and character to your photos and videos, making them look more professional and visually appealing.
How Does a CPL Filter Work?
Regarding photography, CPL (AKA circular polarizer/linear) filters create stunning landscape images by reducing reflected light off surfaces such as water or glass. This allows for the maximum exposure of color available within a shot. CPL filters are also great for portraits and low-light photos, reducing glare and reflections on the subject’s face. Additionally, You can use CPL filters to get creative with long-exposure photography by adding a dramatic ‘starburst’ effect to bright highlights within your shot.
Removing Glass Reflections
CPL filters can be incredibly effective for removing reflections on glass surfaces when combined with a wide-angle lens. This is because the filter blocks out excess light from reflected surfaces, allowing your camera to capture the scene behind them better. The result? Without these unwanted reflections, you’ll get a clear shot of the interior and the people inside the building.
Reducing Water Reflections
CPL filters are also highly effective for minimizing reflections on water surfaces. These reflections can drastically alter the tone of an image, making it look more flat and uninteresting. Using a CPL filter, you can reduce these unwanted reflections and create a much more vibrant shot. The result? With reduced reflecting light, you’ll be able to capture the natural colors of the landscape below the water’s surface.
You can also use CPL filters to enhance landscapes by deepening blues and greens in a shot and adding more saturation to specific colors. This is especially helpful for landscapes featuring bright midday skies, where you can lose the contrast between clouds and sky without using a CPL filter. With one, you can get brighter clouds with richer blues and more contrast in the sky and surrounding elements.
Reducing Glare and Enhancing Colors
CPL filters also reduce glare from surfaces like snow, water, or sand, allowing you to capture clearly defined images without harsh glares spoiling your shot. Moreover, they can increase the saturation of colors within your photos. This is because the filter blocks out unwanted light and increases the contrast of colors, making them stand out more.
Bringing Out Colors in the Sky & Clouds
When used correctly, a CPL filter can bring out vibrant colors in the sky and cloud shots. You’ll get deeper blue skies with brighter clouds by blocking scattered sunlight. This can be great for landscape shots, where you want to capture the beauty of a sunset or sunrise in all its glory.
Minimizing Haze & Glare
You can also use CPL filters to minimize haze and glare in certain shots, like those taken in high-altitude locations. By blocking out scattered light, the filter helps improve the overall color balance of a shot and reduce the effects of haze. This is especially helpful for landscape photographers who want to capture sharp, defined photos without the haziness that can come from shooting at higher altitudes.
Darkening the Sky
Finally, you can use CPL filters to darken the sky in certain shots. You’ll get darker blue skies with more substantial cloud formation by reducing the light entering your camera lens and allowing more saturation to other colors. This is great for landscape photography, especially during the golden hour when shadows are long, and sky tones start to deepen.
Enhancing Fall Foliage Vibrancy
CPL filters are also fantastic for enhancing the vibrancy of fall foliage shots. The filter helps darken the sky and make colors more saturated, giving your photos a much richer and more dramatic look. With a CPL filter, you can capture the beauty of autumn leaves in all their glory without any unwanted glare or reflection spoiling the shot.
What Is the Difference Between CPL and ND Filters?
A CPL filter is designed to reduce the amount of reflected light entering your camera lens. This makes them ideal for capturing detailed shots without unwanted reflections, increasing color saturation, and bringing out vibrant colors in landscapes. On the other hand, an ND (Neutral Density) filter is used to reduce the amount of light entering your camera. This makes them ideal for long-exposure photography, allowing you to capture blurred motion shots and other creative effects.
When Should I Use a CPL Filter?
A CPL filter should be used whenever you want to add more impact and drama to your photos or videos. When it comes to videography & filmmaking, CPL filters are primarily used as ND (neutral density) filters. They reduce the light entering the camera body, allowing you to use slower shutter speeds in bright lighting conditions without overexposing your footage.
Use In Nature Shots
CPL filters are also commonly used for nature films or documentaries since they help to create a more natural-looking image with accurate colors & tones.
For Creative Purposes
CPL filters offer photographers and filmmakers an impressive range of creative possibilities. CPL filters can be essential to any serious photographer or filmmaker’s kit, from reducing reflected light to increase color saturation.
CPL Filter Tips and Tricks
When getting the most out of your CPL filter, you should remember a few tricks and tips:
Make Angle Adjustments
To get the maximum polarization effect from your CPL filter, make sure you adjust the CPL filter for the angle at which you’re shooting. This will ensure that the CPL filters out specific wavelengths and maximizes its effects on your shot.
Get Proper Color and Tones
Additionally, if you’re using a CPL filter with an ND filter, adjust the CPL first and then add the ND filter afterward. This will help produce more accurate colors & tones and will reduce the vignetting effect.
When NOT to Use a Circular Polarizing Lens Filter
CPL filters are mainly used to enhance photos and videos. However, they only work well in certain conditions. For example, shooting objects that don’t have a reflective surface won’t benefit from using a CPL filter since there is no polarized light to be blocked out. Additionally, using a CPL filter in low-light conditions won’t yield any noticeable results; you will need to use an ND filter instead.
Finally, CPL filters aren’t recommended for shooting underwater footage. They can reduce the amount of light entering your camera lens, resulting in a lack of contrast and color palette underwater.
Here are some examples of photos you don’t need to use a CPL filter on:
- Interior and studio photography
- Nighttime shots
- Underwater photography
- Photos of snow or misty scenes
- Colored reflections
- Highlighting wetness in a shot (you need a reflection for that shimmery look)
Circular Polarizing Lens Filter versus Digital Post-Production
A CPL filter has one significant advantage over digital post-production; you can capture the desired effects in real time. Digital post-production requires a lot of time and resources to achieve the same results as a CPL filter. You’ll need more hours of shooting and later editing. CPL filters are also more economical than digital post-production since you can use them with any camera and lens combination.
A CPL filter is critical if you want to take outstanding landscape photos. When you use a circular polarizing lens filter, your edit your images as you capture them. This saves time by not needing to rely on post-editing software.
Do I need a Circular Polarizing Filter?
A good CPL filter is an indispensable tool for both photographers and filmmakers. Whether you’re a beginner or professional, investing in a circular polarizing lens filter will impact your photos and videos more. From reducing reflections to enhancing colors & tones, a CPL filter offers limitless possibilities when shooting landscape photos or creating cinematic scenes.
If you want to take your photography and filmmaking to the next level, a CPL filter is invaluable. Its ability to reduce reflections while emphasizing colors & tones can help bring more impact to any image or footage. Just remember to adjust the CPL filter for the angle at which you’re shooting. If using an ND filter, constantly adjust the CPL and add the ND filter afterward. That way, you can enjoy the full range of creative possibilities that a circular polarizing lens filter brings.
Conclusion: Why You Should Use a CPL Filter
Ultimately CPL filters are incredibly versatile, offering photographers and filmmakers a range of creative options to explore. From reducing reflected light to enhancing colors, CPL filters can be invaluable for creating stunning visual effects! Make sure you adjust your CPL filter correctly and use it with other tools, such as ND filters, for the best results.