Circular Polariizing Filter

Jul 12th, 2006, 11:43 AM
  #1  
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Circular Polariizing Filter

I can not seem to understand why I need these while on safari. I have UV filters and am using a 30D with a 17 - 55 mm IS& a 70 - 200 mm IS, both 2.8f. I am being given conflicting advise by friends and notice that Fodorites all mention getting these. Given the expense I am thinking i would rather use this money for a 1.4x for my Canono l zoom. what does any one say about this? I leave in 40 days!!!!!!!!
13moons is offline  
Jul 12th, 2006, 11:52 AM
  #2  
 
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I would say that this is more necessary for East Africa than for Southern Africa.

In Southern Africa you will be going out during the best times of the day for light (early morning & late afternoon).

However, in East Africa it is very probable that you may be doing your gamedrive at high noon and a CP would be very helpful.

However, between the two, a CP and a Teleconvertor, the TC is an easy choice as the extra zoom will be of the most benefit.
Roccco is offline  
Jul 12th, 2006, 12:49 PM
  #3  
 
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"I can not seem to understand why I need these while on safari."

We took pol filters in January and never really needed (or used) them ... took them in April and used them a fair bit to darken skies when shooting rainbows and cut reflections on wet vegetation. Most people use them to darken blue skies. We consider them optional for the most part, but when you need one it's nice to have ...

"i would rather use this money for a 1.4x for my Canono l zoom. what does any one say about this?"

Since your longest lens is just 200 mm (just over 300 mm equivalent with the crop factor) I'd say you definitely need the 1.4x (and/or 2x). Check out some of our pics from Jan and April ... no pol filter in Jan, a few landscapes in April with the pol ... most of the time we used a 500 mm with the 1.4x and 2x for wildlife (we also had two 70-200's for general use but feel they are a bit short for wildlife) ... http://members.aol.com/bhilton665/africa/

Bill
Bill_H is offline  
Jul 12th, 2006, 02:34 PM
  #4  
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Thank you both. I am going to ditch the polarizing filters (at least 1 of them ) and get a 1.4 extender!
13moons is offline  
Jul 12th, 2006, 03:10 PM
  #5  
 
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"in East Africa it is very probable that you may be doing your gamedrive at high noon"

Rocco, why do you say that? On two trips to Tz we always did our game drives from 6 AM - 10:30 AM (with box breakfasts) and 3 - 6/7 PM ... only times we were out mid-day were once in the Crater (so we didn't have to pay another $100 to re-enter) and once when we visited distant kopjes in Serengeti, and both days we just started at 6 AM with boxed breakfasts and boxed lunches.

Any reason why you had to do mid-day game drives on your trips? Just curious ...

Bill
Bill_H is offline  
Jul 12th, 2006, 03:32 PM
  #6  
 
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Bill,

I had a variety of early morning, late afternoon and mid-day game drives in Tanzania. Some days I had to settle for game drives in the early afternoon rather than the late afternoon...it just all depended on what time I arrived at the next destination...after so much driving, on an occasion or two I chose to go right into the game drive rather than checking into the new camp.

Also, the Ngorongoro Crater game drive was largely at an inopportune time. I reached the bottom of the crater before 8AM, but already the best light had already passed, and from there on, the light was progressively worse and worse (too much). We finally left at about 2PM...while I would have liked to wait for the late afternoon light, I had a long wait ahead of me so it was not worth it.

The only time I felt as if I had the power to enjoy the best light on drives was while at Nomad Ndutu, but this could have been anywhere...it is the only camp where I stayed for more than two nights, staying four nights. Usually people doing the northern circuit hop around every day or two and this often interferes with optimal gameviewing time.
Roccco is offline  
Jul 12th, 2006, 10:34 PM
  #7  
 
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You're making the right decision in choosing a teleconverter ahead of a cpol. But a cpol might not go astray if you're looking to improve your landscape shots. Don't waste your time or detract from your camera/lens capabilities by photographing wildlife with a cpol. You'll lose a stop or two of light using such a filter. The main purposes of polarisers are to intensify colour (deepening the blue of the sky is one of many examples) and reduce reflections from water and glass. Depending on the angle of the sun, a polariser can give you a very uneven sky...an intense almost black blue grading down to very light blue, almost white. Some people love this effect, others hate it.
afrigalah is offline  
Jul 12th, 2006, 10:39 PM
  #8  
santharamhari
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Rocco,

At the crater, the number of cars around sightings are pretty bad. Lots of times, the so-called "guides" just try to out-rush the other cars and try to hustle for the best position.

Sorry.....i know this has nothing to do with polarizing filters, but.....

Hari
 
Jul 14th, 2006, 07:43 AM
  #9  
 
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Bill_H
WOW!
basingstoke1 is offline  
Jul 14th, 2006, 08:14 AM
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"Usually people doing the northern circuit hop around every day or two and this often interferes with optimal gameviewing time."

Don't want to beat this topic to death, but here goes ... Tarangire, Manyara, Ngorongoro and even Ndutu are all close enough together that it's easy to do a morning game drive (say 6 - 10 AM), then move mid-day to the next spot and still have time to do a PM game drive. We *always* do this, planning the trip carefully in advance so the moves are short. The only time this breaks down is if you're going deep into the Serengeti ... it's pushing it to go from say Manyara to Seronera with two game drives and probably not doable if you're much beyond Seronera, but otherwise no problems. On our 10 day trip we got in 20 game drives, on our 13 day trip we got in 24 game drives (couldn't do two a day in Ngorongoro due to regulations).

The driver won't volunteer this info to you because it means he has to get up much earlier and do an extra drive and some safari companies want to save on gas so don't mention it either, but all these places are close enough together (except Serengeti) that it's easy to get in the game drives (which, to me at least, is the main reason for going).

"the Ngorongoro Crater game drive was largely at an inopportune time. I reached the bottom of the crater before 8AM, but already the best light had already passed"

We stayed on the other side of the crater, where there's only one road for both ascent/descent and it's close to the lodge (unlike the side you were on, where the ascent and descent roads are a few miles apart), and were always at the gate at 6 AM chomping at the bit to get in ... typically we saw the best stuff in the first hour or two and never saw another vehicle (lions fighting hyenas, hyenas chasing a buffalo, first light on the flamingos at the lake) ... for example we found a mating pair of lions and photographed them alone for about 90 minutes, then the "breakfast club" jeeps (guys who ate breakfast at the lodges first) swooped down and once we had 4-5 jeeps around us at 8:30 the lions quit mating and moved off into high grass. All those guys saw was two lions crossing the road ... I think the Crater is one spot you *really* want to get in early because the crowds are so bad later, especially mid-day.

Just my perspective, with my main emphasis on photographing the wildlife. I realize not everyone wants to wake up at 5:15 each day to go look for animals

Bill
Bill_H is offline  
Jul 14th, 2006, 08:33 AM
  #11  
 
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I agree with you, Bill!

Mid-day is better for resting at camp or driving to the next location!

In Ngororongoro Crater, I also prefer the Sopa entrance (the eastern area) in the morning to catch the cats and to get the light from behind. In the afternoon, it is better to move to the western part of the crater to shoot with the drammatic backdrop of the SE rim in the afternoon glow with the sun behind you!

A no-good photographer like myself needs all the help from the scenery I can get!
climbhighsleeplow is offline  
Jul 14th, 2006, 08:42 AM
  #12  
 
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I can't comment on whether you should get a 1.4 convertor or a polariser - they are so different it's an unusual "either or" to be faced with.

What I can comment on is how a polariser works and when it can be useful.

Lightwaves, when we're looking at the objects around us, are basically bouncing off everything and scattering all over the place and therefore coming at your camera from all angles. What the polariser does is allow only light at a certain angle to pass through to the film/ sensor.

This is particularly useful when trying to reduce glare or reflections - when shooting through windows for example or when shooting reflective surfaces - I've found it useful when shooting through windows and at water, shiny walls and roofs and even a building covered with wooden tiles! Don't expect magic though - the effect is sometimes startling and sometimes minimal depending on angles of light and so on.

A polariser can also be used to darken the sky (depending on the angles of light) but leave the clouds white. This effect can be overdone but used sparingly it can really improve an image quite a bit.

To find out the difference between a linear and circular polariser I'd suggest googling - the explanations are all far too scientific for me to fully follow. Basically, a circular polariser has an extra plate (layer) at 45 degree angle to the main polarising one and this does something or the other that is gobbledygook to me!

I opt for circular because I've read so often that linear ones can confuse autometering systems. Some people think that the "circular" bit refers to the fact one can turn the filter around but that's the case for both linear and circular - you need to be able to turn it to select which angle of light you want to allow in!!!

It's certainly more often used when the sun is bright and high but it's a good filter to have in your kit and not hugely expensive.

One thing to note - a polariser does reduce the light coming in to your camera by about one stop. So for example, if you have a f2.8 lens the amount of light coming in is equivalent to an f3.5 lens with no filter. The depth of field isn't changed but the volume of light is which means you require a longer shutter speed.

I see people just leave their polariser permanently on their lens. Don't do that. You're losing a stop unecessarily and introducing another element of glass into the equation which may reduce sharpness/ quality of image.
Kavey is offline  
Jul 14th, 2006, 08:43 AM
  #13  
 
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Bill - just looked over your stunning images again! You really saw some incredible stuff. The lion/lioness encounter is really something.

But in all fairness, you were on a specifically tailored photo trip with professional photographers at the helm.

Wouldn't this mean that everyone - including guide, drivers, etc., had the expectation of getting going early, maximizing photo opportunities and so forth? Most of us go on regular trips and have to go with the "established flow" so to speak. Not to take away from your wonderful images!
cooncat3 is offline  
Jul 14th, 2006, 09:03 AM
  #14  
 
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"you were on a specifically tailored photo trip with professional photographers at the helm.

Wouldn't this mean that everyone - including guide, drivers, etc., had the expectation of getting going early, maximizing photo opportunities and so forth?"

Yes, in January, but in April we went on our own with just a driver ...

"Most of us go on regular trips and have to go with the "established flow" so to speak."

When booking the April trip we made it clear up front exactly what we wanted to do, down to 'lunch at Gibbs Farm' and DO NOT stop at the Cultural Center again So if you know in advance what to ask for you will get it (it might cost more, but to me the key is how many game drives you fit in) ... most people probably don't realize how close many of these places are (we didn't the first time around, but our guides did and we learned from them). As I mentioned, the guides may not volunteer to go out early on moving day because it's more work for them and the safari company saves on gas by skipping game drives, so it's up to you to ask for this in advance and set the agenda.

Of course this is for a private trip, if you're bundled up with a group in the jeep on a 'join us' tour all bets are off, you'll have to go as the group goes.

Bill

Bill_H is offline  
Jul 14th, 2006, 12:22 PM
  #15  
 
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Bill,

On the flip side, I did not realize HOW FAR these places were from one another. I mean it was a journey getting from Moivaro to Tarangire Treetops to Lake Manyara Tree Lodge to Ngorongoro Crater Lodge. It was not so far between Crater Lodge and Olduvai Camp and then from Olduvai to Nomad Ndutu.

There were days that I passed on my late afternoon game drives because I was too exhausted from driving already. I stayed a minimum of two nights at each location (except for Olduvai) and I still missed game drives...had I been a single night at some locations, I may have missed even a single game drive in some locations.

Here was my itinerary:

Moivaro (1)
Tarangire Treetops (2)
Lake Manyara Tree Lodge (2)
Ngorongoro Crater Lodge (2)
Olduvai (1)
Nomad Ndutu (4)
Mbuzi Mawe (2)

If I could do those same 14 nights over again, it would be:

Arusha Coffee Lodge (1)
Lake Manyara Tree Lodge (3)
Ngorongoro Crater Lodge (3)
Nomad Ndutu (4)
Migration Camp (3)

I enjoyed Tarangire Treetops, but the gameviewing was no better than Lake Manyara at that time of year (late February) and it was way too far (75 minutes) to the entrance to Tarangire National Park.

I loved Ngorongoro Crater Lodge and would have had no problem in staying a third night.

Nomad Ndutu is a natural choice for February/March.

Migration Camp would not have had the Migration at this time but it is supposed to have a lot of resident game and some wonderful gamedrive circuits in the area, something that Mbuzi Mawe is badly missing.
Roccco is offline  
Jul 14th, 2006, 03:31 PM
  #16  
 
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Bill, excellent photographs, a real pleasure to view. I especially loved the story about the cheetah on the roof.
afrigalah is offline  

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