All About Polarizers [IP24]

In Episode 24 of the Improve Photography Podcast, Jim and Dustin answer listener questions about polarizers, anti-aliasing, exporting photos, external flashes, and more!

Guide to Episode 24

[1:16] External Flash Units: will they work on any camera? And can I use my flash trigger with different brand flashes too?

If your flash will fire on your camera, it will work fine. Canon and Nikon have agreed on one thing: how the hotshoe should work. The killer, however, is Sony: the flash gear that you get is going to work fine on most the camera brands except Sony.

[3:32]  Exporting from Lightroom: Is there an optimal output for different types of photos?

There are no specific settings based on the genre of your photography. Rather, the specifics are based on the medium your photo is going to go on (i.e. printing, web, etc).

For the web, generally use something around 900 px on the longest side. Remember that for the web, you don't need to worry about the resolution. For printing, you will need to have the exact size. First, set the dpi, and make sure you know what the printer needs or your photo might wind up being a drastically different size than you anticipated. Generally, professional labs need the resolution set to 300 dpi. Then, to set height and width, if you want to make an 8″x10″ print, put (8 * the dpi you just set) pixels in the height and (10 * the dpi you just set) pixels in the width.

[8:17] Would you recommend a D7000 or a D7100 for video?

For video, it doesn't matter how many megapixels you have on your image sensor. So if you are deciding between the two based on the number of megapixels, it doesn't matter.

The D7100 has a stereo mic and a headphone jack, so Jim would spring for the D7100 because of those features if it is in your budget.

fps = frames per second. Most TV is 30 fps, and when you watch a movie it is slower (24 fps). Some cameras are coming out with faster frame rates.

[13:20]  Do you have an opinion on cameras without an AA (Anti-Aliasing) filter? Does the image quality really suffer or will you not really notice?

Google “moire texture” to see the texture Jim and Dustin are talking about.

If you are taking landscape pictures, there's no reason to have an AA filter, but if you ever shoot portraits, you should keep it. It won't make your photos totally blurry – it just takes out that tiny bit of sharpness.

[17:20] Do you recommend a particular type or model of digital frame?

Jim hasn't seen any good quality digital frames out there. However, his parents have a Kodak Easyshare Digital Frame – it's great because you can send a picture to the email address associated with the frame and it will show up in the frame. If you happen to know of a good quality picture frame, please – let us know. We'd love to hear about it.

Dustin suggests getting an 1080p TV and using that to display your photos. You'll get good quality that way, and it is a nice size for displaying your photos.

[21:40] On a college student's budget, do you suggest I invest in a better camera body or a better lens? And what are some good Nikon products that fit these requirements?

In this case, definitely buy a new lens. If the camera body is fairly new and can do what you want it to do, then the real investment comes with the lens. Get a good, high quality lens, and then you will be able to use the lens on a newer camera body when you have the money to purchase one. Purchasing a new body would be useful if you need a faster shutter speed or better low light performance, but in this case a lens is the better choice.

Lens suggestions: 50mm f/1.8 – costs about $100. Some very inexpensive lenses don't have a focusing motor in them. So if your camera is relying on the lens focus motor, you would need to look at the $200 version of this lens instead. For a longer focal length (which will help not distort features), consider an 85 f/1.8G.

[30:27] Polarizers: Which should I use, and when should I use them?

Linear vs. Circular polarizers is in the way that the polarization happens. Choose the circular polarizer – most cameras will benefit from this. Jim suggests the Nikon thin polarizer (about $100). Remember it doesn't matter what kind of camera you have as long as the threads of the polarizer match the threads on your lens.

A polarizer will cut out glare, and it will also darken the blues in the sky and make the whites brighter. You can get this exact same look in Photoshop. Don't attach your polarizer to your lens and leave it – if you forget to take it off, you will find that your indoor shots are pretty much just black. Use your polarizer if you're shooting in the middle of the day and you are facing 90 degrees away from the sun. And don't forget that your polarizer spins!!!

[34:56] Would shooting with a higher ISO and doing less brightening in post-processing reduce the amount of noise you see in indoor event photography shots or will it be the same as shooting with a lower ISO and then brightening the photo afterwards?

For event photography, remember that your flash is basically useless to light your subject. Instead, you will light up the people sitting in front of you. There is no way your flash can reach from the stands to the stage – it just isn't going to happen. So you need to learn how to push your camera to get the best picture without needing a flash.

When you're shooting in low light, and it's not working well, follow these steps:

1) Get the largest aperture that you can. If you're using a variable aperture zoom, back out on the zoom a bit so you can get a bigger aperture.

2) Go down to the lowest shutter speed you can use that doesn't cause motion or camera shake. Generally it is 1 over the focal length of the lens.

3) Increase your ISO. But once you get to the end of the limits of your ISO, you really can't do anything else to improve the shot.

Jim's suggestion is to shoot with a higher ISO instead of trying to do a lot of extra brightening in Photoshop.

[41:04] Doodads of the Week

Dustin's pick of the week is metapicz.com – a website where you can drop a photo in and it will give you back all the meta-data and information of the camera. It plugs into Google Chrome.

Jim's doodad of the week is Photoshop CS2 (Yes, 2!) – this was recently released by Adobe Photoshop for FREE.

[47:41] Prizes for reviews!

The winner is bigmatt77.  If that's your username on iTunes, email Jim at [email protected] to get your free online photography class.

To be entered to win the online photography class each week, simply go to this podcast on iTunes and write a one or two sentence review.  While they appreciate a a 5-star review, any review will get you entered to win a class for free (a $98 value).


7 thoughts on “All About Polarizers [IP24]”

  1. Great podcast! I would just like to point out that Sony is now actually releasing all future models with the standard hot shoe, and they even some out right now, like the new a58 entry level and the a99 full frame… I’m sure their a65 and a77 will be replaced soon enough and that they will have the new hot shoe as well.

  2. Adobe Photoshop CS2 is not actually free for everyone. It’s on the honor system. The websites says: “Adobe strongly advises against running unsupported and outdated software. The serial numbers below should only be used by customers who legitimately purchased CS2 or Acrobat 7 and need to maintain their current use of these products.”

  3. Donald W. Leitzel

    Regarding your flash comments, Canon EZ series flash units must not be used with the modern digital cameras. They require series EX flash units. Also, regarding linear vs circular polarizers, linear polarizers will affect the auto focus function.

    Love the podcast

  4. Because I work in the industry and I’m a stickler for such things, I just wanted to point out that most of the world actually uses the PAL (or SECAM) tv systems which run at 25fps. NTSC is at 30fps which is used by America and a few other countries (and is affectionately known as Never The Same Colour 😉

  5. Hi there, awesome podcast, very informative. I have a question about flash. I’m just getting into it and am finding it very stressful and over whelming. I have the canon eos 6d and just bought the Neewer tt560. Just before you using it I was told if I used it on camera it would fry my circuit board so I need to use triggers. I can’t find out any where if that’s true, and if it is which triggers to use. It’s between the ones you suggested yongnuo or cactus V5. Which would you suggest? Thank you sooo much

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