Basic hoya circular polarising filters have always treated me fairly well. They are a bit too deep to use with wide angle lenses without vignetting, but that probably won't be an issue for the kind of thing you are talking about.
AFAIK, they are not a good idea in a sense of you wouldn't put one of because it's a fast moving object. They are used for boosting contrast, decreasing reflections, darkening skies and reducing glare. Typically they reduce light by 2/3rd of a stop so if the objects are moving fast then a faster ISO will be needed. On a sunny day though, I imagine that the photos would be much better with a bluer sky / water.
In reply to The Lemming:
It is also worth noting that the effect they have depends on direction relative to the sun - as I recall it is maximum when the sun is at the side of the subject. Gordon can probably give a fuller description of how they work.
In reply to The Lemming:
Not answering your questions, but a tip if using near salt water on a windy day just watch how you clean the salt spray from it. (Of course protect your camera and lens otherwise from salt spray). If you intend to do a lot of shooting near salt water you may wish to go for a cheaper or mid range filter so it's not too expensive if (or when!) they get salt crystal scratches. Still it's cheaper than getting your lenses scratched, but clear filters will protect and are cheaper still !
IMO a reasonably low-mid price range filter serves most circumstances nearly as good as more expensive ones. I have a polarising filter on virtually all of the time for landscape and seascape shots. If you can cope with drop in light, then they are worthwhile to alter the water reflections, contrast, etc.
I use a Marumi circular polarising filter on my 77mm dia. Sigma. There's no vignetting even at 18 mm but it is a very slim filter. The downside to that is that with the hood on the lens, I can't hold the edge of the filter to rotate it.
For the OP, rotating is useful (if you haven't already learned this) because you can vary the degree of polarisation between none & full by turning the filter through 90 degrees. Circular polarising filters cut down reflections and reduce glare without severely darkening the scene. The reflection thing is very obvious on water. The reduction of glare is not so obvious until you realise the entire blue sky is one big glare. Stripping out the random light deepens the colour dramatically. The filter does the same thing to everything else too: sometimes increasing colour saturation and contrast so far as to make a scene look rather artificial.
Something else to be aware of is that there's a strong effect at a right-angle to the sun and it tails off to practically nothing when your shadow is directly in front of or behind you. With a wide-angle lens, that can make part of the sky very deep blue, with a 'normal' pale blue patch on either side.
If you have a good lens with a very large diameter, and a camera on which you can push the sensitivity up a bit without compromising quality, the couple of exposure steps of darkening caused by the filter shouldn't give you any trouble. For photographing sailing events I'd expect no problems unless you want individual drops in the spray to be perfectly crisp. White hulls and white sails will look a bit like an advert for a tropical beach holiday with full filtering but rotate the other way and all the haze and all the sparkle will reappear.
If you're photographing small boats, Lasers of Fireballs or whatever people sail nowadays, I'd guess you'll be on the bank or shore and some distance from them so you'll probably be using a longer focal length, in which case vignetting won't be a problem. Camera shake and depth of field are more likely to ruin the pics so the slight darkening may be more of a problem. If that is the case, I'd suggest also buying a good robust tripod.
I keep my filter on all the time as 1) I rarely use the hood and 2) a scratched filter is cheaper to replace than a scratched lens. If you do buy one and you don't suffer vignetting, try fitting a cheap UV filter on the front. UV filters do nothing at all on DSLRs but it will protect the CP filter and will give you a bit more to grab when rotating. If it does affect the corners of the photo, you've only wasted a few quid.
I originally had a Hoya Pro on this lens but it broke while on the lens with the lens cap on and the camera in its case in my rucksack. It had lasted for over a year (no more warranty) and just went with no provocation. I suspect there was a small chip in the edge of the filter glass that was just waiting for an opportunity to propagate. Regardless, there's very little to tell between a good Hoya and a good Marumi - I have three other Hoya filters & just thought I'd give another brand a go.
> If you're photographing small boats, Lasers of Fireballs or whatever people sail nowadays, I'd guess you'll be on the bank or shore and some distance from them so you'll probably be using a longer focal length, in which case vignetting won't be a problem.
Yep, I was on a jetty, camera on a mono-pod, shooting at small lasers from a long way away. Well I was actually using a tripod with only one leg extended. However next time I am going to try and cadge a lift in the 'support rib' and try to get closer to the action.
Nice photos. What's the first one but a Laser and a Fireball... The old man used to race a Fireball when I was barely out of nappies.
My whole collection of hardware cost less than your lens. Envy is turning me a little green.
I doubt a CP filter will cause any problems. I'd expect to see better saturation and contrast but then again, a filter probably wouldn't improve the silhouette of the crew and the translucency of the sail in photos like p1490461.
Why are you shooting at F10/11? some of your shots are suffering noise in the darker parts (wetsuits, navy hulls etc.), you'd be better off using F6-8 (assuming you can't go any more open with the long lens) and ISO 400 instead of F10+ and ISO800. Are you cropping the shots?
If you go out in a safety boat you'll need to keep your shutter speed high - <1000th of a second - it's incredibly difficult to take photos from a small boat without getting blur, more so with a telephoto.
The shot of the birds crossing is excellent.
Polarisers- definitely use them when shooting reflective water, they knock the glare down without knocking anything else down, so effectively increase your ability to increase your exposure without blowing highlights. As others have said, the angle of the sun and where you're looking varies the effect. Skies will be most affected when the sun is behind you in my experience.
I don't exactly do this for a living and this was my first ever attempt.
I had a dull day and a zoom lens to play with so I took an educated guess of a shutter speed three times the focal length to reduce lens blur and get crisp shots. I put the camera into shutter priority and cranked the iso to 800. I thought the noise was a small price to pay to get usable shots that were not blurry.
Maybe next time I will put the iso into auto. All part of the learning curve.
Auto ISO always seems to result in a very high ISO setting as the cameras tend to be programmed to favour high shutter speeds to allow for users who really don't know how to hold things steady. I have been out in brighter conditions than what you are describing and tested where the camera goes on auto ISO and often been surprised to see it go quite high.
You may be able to custom configure this, depending on your camera. I have not investigated it on mine. I generally just try to avoid letting it have auto ISO.
I've just spent an informative few minutes looking at your pics again on a PC (was using my phone last night) and I'm inclined to agree with Toerag and Blue Straggler on the ISO setting. Higher values give a grainy picture: try ISO 640, or 400 if it's sunny. You'll still want a fast shutter speed so will have to widen the aperture. For single boats you could probably go all the way down to f/6.
It's normal to use the narrowest possible aperture for landscapes but that's only to have fore- mid- and background all in focus, and a tripod means long exposures of non-moving landscape are feasible. Action shots of boats will only need a short depth of field so a wide aperture should be ok. If you're shooting a gaggle of them like p1500161 you'll probably want a narrower aperture to get them all in focus.
CP filters do act like a neutral density filter and you will find they alter exposure values by between half and two steps regardless of subject.
If you have the inclination and the time, shoot in a raw format rather than jpeg and use a PC application to edit. I use Photoshop; lots of people like Lightroom. Do the resizing and conversion ready for upload last of all. Jpegs are ok but lose detail through compression every time they are saved. I use jpeg myself but only for upload and only because my camera is nearly as old as me. I'm not sure what formats Flickr will accept but I'm told that .png with the transparency turned off is pretty well lossless.
> I don't exactly do this for a living and this was my first ever attempt.
Oh I know you're an amateur like me, but I thought you knew about the 'don't go into the diffraction zone (F8 and beyond for m43)' rule.
> I had a dull day and a zoom lens to play with so I took an educated guess of a shutter speed three times the focal length to reduce lens blur and get crisp shots. I put the camera into shutter priority and cranked the iso to 800. I thought the noise was a small price to pay to get usable shots that were not blurry.
Ah, so by fixing aperture and shutter the camera automatically closed the aperture beyond what is ideal to stop overexposure. I'll let you off and you'll learn from this too
To re-answer your original post now I have that info, you could have opened up your ISO 3 stops and still not 'run out' of aperture i.e. you could have been at ISO100 / F5.6ish with the same shutter speed and obtained the same exposure without the noise or diffraction softening you'll have had in your shots. Sticking a polariser on would mean retaining shutterspeed and modifying ISO a notch or two to compensate, but it would still be OK, and actually better than your shots. I'm guessing your zoom won't go wider aperture than F5.6 otherwise you could open that up instead/as well On overcast days polarisers don't have much effect because the harsh reflections simply aren't there.
Keep posting your questions, there's a good few of us in m43land so we can all share our experiences and improve . High ISO noise is the bane of m43 and I keep below 800 unless I have to (indoor or dusk shots) and virtually never go above 3200.
In reply to The Lemming:
With lack of experience I'm not in a position to offer much, but in case it's any help my take is not to use auto ISO on m43 unless you really need to in challenging situation to have that must have shot - one off type opportunity. Otherwise, I generally do not set ISO above 400. I start at my default setting of 200 and see if I can get anywhere near correct exposure.
I think those are great shots from an excellent lens that your pushing hard to it's limit being m43. I would be well pleased if that was the result of my first attempt, seriously. My standard is a lot lower for trials . I would however try wider apertures if at all possible, at lower ISO and more so when at the 400mm end.
In reply to The Lemming: Thank you everybody for your helpful replies.
I do try to keep my ISO below 800 where ever I can, however I took a gamble with iso 800 on the day so that I could get a faster shutter speed for a subject that was some considerable distance away from me and moving quite quickly.
I have to admit that even though there is obvious noise in the images, that noise is nowhere as near as bad as cameras from a few generations ago. I could have photoshopped the shit out of that noise but that would have been at the expence of losing some of the sharpness and or detail with a cartoonish end result. You could argue that the noise/grain gives a grittiness. Maybe I could get away with that statement if I was a proteinous professional selling my shots?
I was seriously considering, and indeed had a go with iso's of 500-650 or there about's but the better shots popped out with 800, or I nervously reverted to default.
I have to say that I have not heard or read about the diffraction zone of f8 and beyond for micro four thirds cameras but I have not had my camera for that long either. Normally I keep all my cameras in Aparure Priority and let the camera work out the shutter speed. On the day I shot the boats I took the decision to prioratise the shutter speed to reduce camera shake or blur to keep the binned shots down. Its all pros and cons with a big dose of learning thrown in.
Maybe next time I will get perfect blue sky's with a shed load of wind allowing me to keep the iso to 100. I can only dream.
Well I had another opportunity to go out and play yesterday photographing the local boat club zooming about on the water. And this time I was allowed to go out on a rib.
I tried to follow everybody's advice about keeping the ISO below 800. The conditions were roughly the same as two weeks ago however this time I was on a moving boat trying to photograph other moving boats. I kept my camera in aperture priority rather than my last attempt in shutter priority. I don't know why I tried because I have always had good results with either full manual or aperture priority. But we live and learn.
I would be most grateful if those that commented could advise on my latest crop of images.
> Auto ISO always seems to result in a very high ISO setting as the cameras tend to be programmed to favour high shutter speeds to allow for users who really don't know how to hold things steady. I have been out in brighter conditions than what you are describing and tested where the camera goes on auto ISO and often been surprised to see it go quite high.
> You may be able to custom configure this, depending on your camera. I have not investigated it on mine. I generally just try to avoid letting it have auto ISO.
My personal preference is to keep the ISO on its lowest setting and use aperture priority. My lens is sharpest around f4 so I want to stay as close to the optimum quality setting as possible and will then vary the aperture if the shutter speed becomes an issue and as a last resort will increase the ISO.
To the OP: my experience with a circular polariser is that you lose about 1 to 1 1/2 stops of light depending on how you choose to align the filter. Try it on foliage, it has a dramatic impact.
> I would be most grateful if those that commented could advise on my latest crop of images.
I'm glad I checked back on this thread - things that stood out:-.
Spinnaker - is that heavily cropped? some noise visible on the helmsman and hull, yet you shouldn't have noticeable noise at ISO400
P1520705 - seems a bit overexposed? It might just be the overcast light making everything light merge into one though (decks, reflection of sky on water, windmill etc. How does it look underexposed an EV or so compared to the one on Flickr? 'Can't catch me' is the same. The people in both shots seem exposed nice and brightly, but at the expense of washing out the rest of the pics somewhat.
'Salty sea dog' - why are you at F9? Unless you needed greater DoF you'd have been better at F6.3 and a faster shutter/200 or lower ISO. Good shot though
'One little ring plover' - it's a Turnstone . Also seems slightly soft - heavily cropped? 1/640th might not be quick enough to stop feathers ruffling in the wind either.
I think you can be proud of that set, it's definitely crisper than the first one. Good action shots, and good arty shots too.