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Question on polarized lenses

allen deckard

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#1
Well fairly new to photography and new to the drone hobby so please be nice.

I do understand the technical parts of how polarized lenses works and why they filter reflections. So at least I have that out of the way.

So my question is giving an example

I have a nd 16 pl lens and put it on my Mavic camera. All well and good although I’ve been working on settings all day with it on a tripod in the yard to get consistency and think that the polarized lenses seem to wash a bit of grey into the pictures.

Anyway I’m getting off point of my question.

The purpose of the polarized lens is to reduce or eliminate reflections let’s say in water or a window.

So taking that window keys say a store front I want to photograph for some reason but don’t want the glass.

How do I tell on these lenses or do I just mark it myself what the top and bottom of the lens is?

For example if I take the lens and just hold it up to your eye and walk up to a window. Seeing yourself as a reflection in the glass if you rotate the filter slowly you find the sweet spot where the reflection completely disappears. Move it out of that and it’s nothing but glass.

So I guess my question is that is it just hit and miss? Or find the good spot and mark it?

Or am I completely off and since it’s moving targets the rotation would need to change constantly.

Anyway I seem to be getting my best results with an nd 16 shutter speed at 60 on a sunny southern Florida day mostly over water. I have been using an nd 32 but honestly it just didn’t seem to capture that it’s a bright sunny day on the ocean felt more dreary to me but then again what do I know I’m just starting. Fun hobby though gotta give it that.
 

Mossiback

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#2
I marked my filters and attach with the mark either up or at a best guess as to what the angle should be for the shot. To make the mark, I looked at my filter while wearing polarized sunglasses and rotated the filter until the most light passing through it was blocked. Then I put a mark at the 3 o'clock position.
 

Thwyllo

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#3
It's tricky because a polarising filter only works in a fairly limited field of view and needs adjusting constantly as you move the camera about. Fine on a DSLR but impossible on a drone camera. All you can do is make a best guess and preview it when the drone is in the air.
 

gnirtS

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#5
So taking that window keys say a store front I want to photograph for some reason but don’t want the glass.

How do I tell on these lenses or do I just mark it myself what the top and bottom of the lens is?

For example if I take the lens and just hold it up to your eye and walk up to a window. Seeing yourself as a reflection in the glass if you rotate the filter slowly you find the sweet spot where the reflection completely disappears. Move it out of that and it’s nothing but glass.

So I guess my question is that is it just hit and miss? Or find the good spot and mark it?

Or am I completely off and since it’s moving targets the rotation would need to change constantly.
Polarisation only works at a very specific angle of reflection to light source and that angle changes all the time so a polariser has to be set up before the flight (face with the sun at the same angle, rotate the filter whilst looking through it until you see the sky darken or reflections go then fit the filter on the drone at that EXACT angle. More than a 10 degrees or so out it wont do anything at all.
Then you need to take your photo or video from that exact same sun/reflection angle in the sky. If that angle changes, there'll be near or no polarisation effect. Turn the drone, no effect any more.
For this reason polarisers are only really useful for still photos unless you have a video from a specific, never changing angle. They need specific setup for each flight and target and ONLY work for that particular scenario.
Polarisation also has the best effect with the light source off at 90 degrees. If you're shooting with the light source (sun) directly behind you or directly into it, there'll be no effect.

The other issue with still panoramas and video with them is you'll get uneven polarisation as you rotate. There'll be patches of high levels and patches of no level polarisation effect. This means on still panoramas you'll see characteristic light and dark patches on sky. On video you'll get different sky colours depending where you're facing along with different reflections.

So ultimately polariser filters are handy for stills and not very useful at all for video.

The opposite is true for ND filters, polarising isnt very useful at all in general for video but the neutral density part IS handy for video. But also the neutral density part is usually the last thing you want if you're trying to take the best quality stills.

In short, polariser for flights where you want to take still photos and are prepared to set up a specific shot both before and during flight. Dont use NDs for stills.
For video, you may want to use NDs but polarisation isnt that useful.

If you want the best results, decide if its going to be a photo flight OR a video flight and either fit an ND filter (for video) or dont (for stills). Anything else is going to compromise on quality of one or the other.

My DSLRs have Circular polarisers on nearly 90% of the time (i work a lot on water or jungle). Its easy to rotate prior to each shot to get it correct and alter your angle with the sun for best effect.

On my mavic i take still photos 90% of the time and often no video on flights. I use a polariser a lot as i often know exactly what shot i want before flying so can specifically set it up as such.
If im doing a specific mavic video flight i'll fit a suitable ND (8,16 or 32 normally) for the light level and use that. And am prepared that i may well sacrifice quality on any stills i happen to take on that flight.
 

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