Polarizer on safari?

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Mar 22nd, 2006, 12:10 PM
  #1
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Polarizer on safari?

Hello,

I have a couple of safari and digital photography questions for the experienced on this forum. I just switch to a DSLR (canon 20d)6 months ago after 20+ years of nature photography with a film SLR. I haven't had a polarizer since my camera was stolen in Italy in 1987. I shoot most of my nature photos in "good" light, mostly around sunrise and sunset and found polarizer pictures to be somewhat "unnatural" light-wise. But in Africa, I'm going to want to photograph animals regardless of the light; they're not always going to be backlit in the morning or evening. In harsher midday light, do many of you use polarizars? Any tips from experience?

Also, does anyone know a good web source to learn about how to effectively use white balance controls and historgrams. I understand the basic idea of what they are, but how do I incorporate them into my new digital photography.

Thanks,
Pete
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Mar 22nd, 2006, 12:39 PM
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Hi Pete,

When I was in TZ in 2005 I took my trusty old Nikon FM2n up Kili and on safari - I didn't use a Polariser - the skies were dark blue enough and the colours so vivid I think that it would have become too much using the filter. Perhaps if doing more lake shots then yes (Eg Manyara) but in the Crater and Serengeti just as is with the skylight on the front. Have a look and judge for yourself.

http://www.smartgroups.com/pictures/...lbumID=5272073

http://www.smartgroups.com/pictures/...lbumID=5280137

BTW where are you going and when?

Matt
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Mar 22nd, 2006, 12:57 PM
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Polarizers used on digital cameras are somewhat different than the 'old style' that you may have used. They also cost 'exposure' - reducing light to your camera. Therefore you might want to do some research before using them on a digital camera.
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Mar 22nd, 2006, 01:26 PM
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Matt,

We're going for August to:
Bazaruto Island
Hluhluwe-Umfolozi
Kruger
Chobe, Savute, Moremi, Okavango mobile safari
Cape Town

In the Okavango, you probably will get some polarized light off the water, but I'm trying to figure out if a polarizer would help at all taking daytime animal pictures in the dry lands? Maybe if the sky is washed out? Any ideas?

Thanks,
Pete
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Mar 22nd, 2006, 02:37 PM
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I haven't been to Kruger since 93, and that was in March so I guess conditions will be different, (going back next easter time): unless taking landscape/scenery shots I personally wouldn't bother with the polarizer, if you have Photoshop or similar you can always boost the saturation levels and play with the colour scales at a later date. But then I still scan print film using a Nikon Coolscan so perhaps I'm not the best person to ask. I still think Velvia is a great film... Mind you along with the Eos 1n hs I recently bought I know eventually I'll go for the 1.6x crop Canon to give my telephoto the extra reach.

Take care

Matt
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Mar 22nd, 2006, 03:02 PM
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I don't know of any photographers using a polarizer with digital. I went on a photo safari to the some of the same places you are going - Chobe, Savute, Moremi, Okavango mobile safari - and no one used one. My pictures were taken with a 20D and a 70-200mm f/2.8 and a 300mm f/2.8 and are here http://www.pbase.com/cjw/album_of_ph..._2005&page=all We were usually in camp during the harshest part of the day so not many images during the worst light.

The photographer leading the safari I was, Charles Glatzer, on has written an article about histogram and you can find it here
http://www.naturescapes.net/112005/cg1105.htm I don't know if you need to register to read articles but if you do, it's worth it. I also took a workshop with Greg Downing and he has written an article on the histogram also. It is here http://www.naturescapes.net/092004/gd0904.htm

There is a wealth of knowledge at that website. Good luck!
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Mar 22nd, 2006, 05:54 PM
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Wow, thanks for posting the link to your album sundowner, those 2 lenses really are pin sharp: I just wish that was what I could afford but instead I have the 70 200 F4 and am looking to get the 100 - 400 to go on the 30d for its versatility. But that 300 f2.8 what a lense. Can you push that with the 2x converter to give 600 f5.6 with AF?
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Mar 23rd, 2006, 02:54 AM
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Matt, yes you can use the 2x. You can also use the 2x plus the 1.4x at the same time and still have auto-focus. This picture http://www.pbase.com/cjw/image/53684217 was taken using both teleconverters at the same time. How cool is that!
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Mar 23rd, 2006, 03:52 AM
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You might try this forum here .http://thorntree.lonelyplanet.com/ca...s.cfm?catid=34
I have a Nikon D50 and use circular polarizers exactly as I did on a film camera.
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Mar 23rd, 2006, 05:22 AM
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Sundowner, so on a 35mm conventional body that gives almost 900mm at F8? So on the the 20 / 30 d with 1.6 crop factor that's what? 1400mm more or less? Wow! And maintain AF. And a pretty sharp focus with good bokeh? Okay so perhaps I'll be rethinking my lens purchase. Very nice photo album, so many great photos. Looks to have been an awesome and educational trip.

Matt
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Mar 23rd, 2006, 05:43 PM
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Hi,

For circular polarizer for Africa, check out a "Moose Filter" It is a combo circular polarizer + warming filter. Developed by nature/wildlife photographer Moose Peterson. Do a Google and you can read all about it. I took some great pictures in Costa Rica last May using this filter. Will be going to South Africa in May 06' and plan on using it again. I'm not an expert, but still in learning phase, but have found this filter very usefull.
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