Polarisation filters - everything you need to know

Do you often hear people discussing filters, yet have no idea how to use them yourself? In this article, we'll take you into the world of polarisation filters. We're going to talk about when and what to use the filters for.

What would you like to know about polarisation filters?

What is it? | Use | When | How does it work? | attachh | Tips | Disadvantages

What does a polarisation filter do?

A polarisation filter is a filter for your camera lens. But what do these filters do for your photos? The filter ensures that only light coming from a specific direction is transmitted. A polarisation filter thus filters unwanted reflections and glare from your photos. This type of filter maintains the natural light-dark contrast in the photo.

What can you use a polarisation filter for?

You can use a polarisation filter in a variety of settings, such as landscapes, architecture or everyday situations. The filters prevent too much light from entering the photos. However, the filters also have other advantages, such as making colours brighter. As an example, the contrast in the sky can be increased, making clouds more visible. Green tones in landscape photos can also be made even more beautiful. Polarisation filters allow extra light to pass through one side of the filter, allowing you to set a focal point on which you want brightening to occur.

When should you use a filter?

As mentioned earlier, polarisation filters help filter out disturbing glare from reflections. So, how do you choose which filter to use? Polarisation filters can help particularly well in environments where there is a lot of reflection. Such as the sea, lakes or other areas with lots of water or architecture. In addition, you can also use a filter if you like good contrasts in terms of colour, since blue and green hues will appear much brighter in your photo. This is especially ideal if you spend a lot of time in nature or travel a lot.

use polarisation filter

Without circulair polarisationfilter

use polarisationfilter

With circulair polarisationfilter

How do polarisation filters work?

Now that you have all the answers to the basic questions, it's time for the next step. Besides knowing what effect a filter can have on your photos, it's also nice to know how it works.

In order to understand it properly, it's important to first know some of the basic properties of light. As you've seen in everyday life, light always travels in straight lines. When you turn on your bedside lamp to read, it doesn't make its way around a corner. A reflective object allows you to change the direction of light. In the photography world, this is usually done with a reflection screen.

A special material is used in filters that allows light to enter from one side. Compare it to blinds. The position of your blinds also determines the angle from which you want the light to be admitted. By rotating a polarisation filter, you can tilt the blinds, as it were, so that light is let in from the other side, except in the case of a circular polarisation filter.


Without circulair polarisationfilter


With circulair polarisationfilter

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How do you attach a polarisation filter?

Now that you know what a polarisation filter does, the next step is knowing how to attach it to your lens. Allow us to explain.

  1. Screw the filter onto the rear thread of the lens
  2. There is an extra dial on the filter, so that you can rotate it.
  3. Determine what the ideal setting is for you

Here's how to discover filters in a nutshell. Grab your camera and take a look through your viewfinder to see the effect of a polarisation filter.

Tips for photographing with a polarisation filter


As we've already discussed, polarisation filters help add more contrast to the colours in your photos. By using a filter, an uninteresting scene can be transformed into an interesting photo. A picture that was initially filled with a greyish hue can be replaced by delicate green bushes and a bright brown tree trunk.


Something you may not already be aware of is that leaves definitely have an effect on reflecting (sun) light. Especially when you've just had the familiar (tropical) rainstorm. Leaves reflect more light due to the droplets, rather than showing their natural green colour. The filter allows you to get the green of the bushes or trees back into the picture. How nice is that?


Do you spend a lot of time by the sea or in areas with many waterfalls? Polarisation filters are definitely your friend after a rainstorm. When you choose to capture a waterfall or stones after rain, the stones visibly reflect light. The filter removes this reflection, eliminating the distraction from your photo.


Capturing rainbows clearly is something many photographers struggle with. Do the colours often fade into the sky with you, too? Time for a polarisation filter. By attaching the filter correctly to your lens, you can actually make the colours stronger in your photo. And proudly show it off at home.

Disadvantages of polarisation filters

We've already more than shared the positive influences of polarisation filters. But of course, there are other things to consider when you start using these filters. For example, there is a chance of creating a vignette when you use a wide-angle lens or suffering from light loss.

Vignette with a wide-angle lens
But you're probably asking yourself something along the lines of: how come? Allow us to explain. The polarisation filter is, of course, an additional protective layer on your lens. Your lens may capture a smaller angle when attached to a wide-angle lens because the filter is attached on top of the lens. This causes dark spots in the corners of the photo. A quick tip! Don't place your polarisation filter on top of another filter, such as a UV filter. This is because it will only cause the angles to get bigger. How can you avoid these angles? It's actually quite simple. By zooming in just a little with your lens, the corners may already disappear. However, should you wish to take a full-angle photo, one option is to crop slightly in post-processing.

Light loss
Since a polarisation filter filters the light that normally reaches your sensor, it is important to pay attention to the exposure triangle. Also known as aperture, shutter speed and ISO. To make a photo better, you need to play around with the right ratios in the exposure triangle. This usually includes a larger aperture, a slower shutter speed and a higher ISO value. This problem will mainly occur when you want to shoot in dark areas. On some cameras, the aperture cannot be made large enough so the shutter speed becomes too slow, making handheld shooting impossible, and last but not least, the ISO value becomes too high, resulting in noise. And we don't want that. Our advice is therefore: choose the right moments for using a polarisation filter, since it won't necessarily make your photos better in every setting.

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