Marumi DHG Super Circular Polarizer Review

sony r1 and marumi super dhg circular polarizer

Marumi DHG Super Circular Polarizer attached in Sony R1’s built-in lens.

I lost my filters a few days ago so I believed it would be a nice moment to post my thoughts about them. This first day I’ll start with a circular polarizer. To make a long story short two questions you could have about polarizers:

  • What is a polarizer? Is a filter to control reflections, it can reduce them or accentuate them using a rotating element you have to graduated at taste. It’s quite useful to erase reflections in leaves and water that in cameras look different to what your eyes see. Also it reduce the atmospheric haze.
  • Do I need a polarizer? if you use a compact camera the answer is no; if you have a camera whose lens accept filters then you could play and have fun with one.

Said that Marumi is a company with high quality filters; the best of them are DHG, Super DHG and EXUS, the first is the one with less characteristics and the latter the filter with highest specifications. I purchased a Super DHG and a day after that Marumi announced the EXUS line, lol. With filters is better to buy the best to avoid degradation of the image quality of your lens. My camera has a fixe Carl Zeiss lens so I thought the Super DHG was the better option.

THE MARUMI POLARIZER WAS FANTASTIC FOR ME TO:

 Cut reflections

Golden waterfall

Cutting reflections in landscapes.

In the photograph above see how the leaves have not reflections and the colors are truer to what my eyes saw. One side effect is that the sky gets a dark and tenebrous blue that I’ve to correct in my laptop.

don't go

Cutting reflections in water.

In the maritime landscape I used two filters, one to create a long exposure and the Marumi polarizer to make the water more transparent. Not so exaggerated that the ships could look like they were floating.

plus

Cutting reflections in vegetation.

In gardens a polarizer can be the difference between a nice picture or a mess of bright leaves. If you see the leaves in the rose you can notice that they have pure colors and little reflections (a polarizer reduce reflections, it doesn’t erase them)

the mountain is life

Cutting reflections when shooting through car windows.

This mountains and clouds were taken from a bus in movement. One defect of a polarizer is that it blocks a bit the light, so the cheaper can get really dark and the best have a better light transmittance. The Marumi DHG Super allowed me to take photographs in movement without rising the iso and losing quality. Except in sunsets and dusk, there is better to take off the filter. I’m not sure how better is the Exus version.

Reducing atmospheric haze

give me your hand

Distant mountains rendered with quite reduced bluish cast.

In paint there is a technic called Atmospheric Perspective, it’s used to transmit a sense of distance giving the farthest objects a bluish appearance; this is natural because the color of our atmosphere at day. But when we photograph distant objects without closer ones, for example when using tele lenses or a zoom lens fully extended the bluish cast can be felt wrong. So the polarizer helps a lot. Bellow is another example.

eating a hill

Improving reflections

a blue path to nowhere

Polarizer set in minimum effect to highlight reflection of sky in water

Although the emphasis of polarizers is used in reduce reflections they can help them too, the reflection in the little stream above and the lake next to this paragraph can show you, besides you can see the vegetation has better contrast, moderate reflections and there is no much atmospheric haze.

peaceful blue

Minimum effect. Despite that the image has improved colors and contrast closer to what naked eyes saw

be careful red skies

Minimum effect to highlight the reflection on a red floor.

Accentuating rainbows

a treasure in itself

Maximum effect on polarizer to get the best definition of rainbow.

Rainbows can be hard to photograph, a polarizer is your best bet.

I LEARNED TO DON’T USE THE MARUMI POLARIZER (OR ANY OTHER) TO:

Using it in wide angles landscapes

with marumi super dhg circular polarizer at maximum

Polarizers and wide landscapes don’t mix well.

If you see this effect, an uneven polarization of the sky (unnatural darker and brighter parts), don’t trash your filter! :O, is common to every polarizer because they work accord to the sun position so in wide angles is natural that parts far of the sun position in panoramas are weaker to the polarizer effect.

The next photograph is without the polarizer:

without marumi super dhg circular polarizer

Same scene without polarizer.

Now without the polarizer the sky is much more natural, but the mountains now have atmospheric haze and the foreground has less definition. But usually I give more importance to the sky.

Darken the skies

La Paz's Little Miami

Sky darkened to a dismal aspect.

I know that photographers like that effect of dark blues in skies. To me is unnatural and disgusting, but that’s a personal opinion. I guess that it’s from the film days when a polarizer could help to avoid cyan skies in bright days, but perhaps I’m guessing so much. But now I can  reduce that effect modifying the blue color o even better using to the minimum the polarizer effect.

The next photograph originally had that dark blue but I modified to a more realist effect in relation with what I saw:

the art of adobe

Blue color modified to dark to a softer, beautier and realistic sky in software.

CONCLUSIONS

Pros

  • There is no impact on image quality.
  • Has a high light transmission.
  • Easy to rotate with its textured ring.
  • It’s slim so you can stack more filters.
  • Zero color casts.
  • Resistance to flare.
  • Hard to get dirty, I cleaned it lightly no more than ten times in almost one and half year.

Cons

  • The storage box is quite simple, it got broken after some months of normal use.

VERDICT

This filter was perfect to me. So I’m considering to replace the lost one with another Marumi, an EXUS this time. If you have doubts about this filter you can see that next photograph, it’s one of my favorites and I could make it with the Marumi filter.

there is a blaze in you like burning suns

Faithful to our eyes.

Rain over you, rain over me

rain over you rain over me

This is another photograph from a bus in the highlands of the Andean Plateau. This time I used a Marumi polarizer because they can be very effective to reduce reflections. The only downside is that they block a bit of light and that is the reason you have to consider the best polarizers, so you can have better use of them in twilight or dawn.

A yellow ocean made of ichu under a thin atmosphere before the storm :-)

Under my closed eyes a dream of snow and messenger clouds

under my closed eyes a dream of snow and messenger clouds

Long exposure without filters

If you have a camera capable to operate in manual you can try to give a dreamy look to the photographs choosing the higher number of your aperture to reduce the light and therefore use a long exposure (the camera’s shutter is working more than one second). For example here I used an aperture of F 11 (my lens has an aperture between 2.8 to 16, being 11 the second highest) so the light in the lens was reduced and the time of the shutter was four seconds. Then the clouds more than static are showed in motion like cottons. This technique works better with the less amount of light, so it’s in dawn or dusk. If you cannot control your camera then you could choose the “night” mode.

The downside is that when you use the highest number it appears a phenomena called diffraction that turns a bit imprecise or soft the image, but because that was my intention here is no a problem. When you need motion or movement but at the same time sharpness in a sunny day your best bet is using a quality ND (neutral density) filter to achieve this effect earlier in the day.

In this photograph I wanted to reflect the contrast between the immovable mountains against the travelers little clouds.

Stitching photographs: Microsoft ICE review

blue night

 

Disclosure: I’ve no relation with the creators of this software or the company. This is an opinion about a free software that I downloaded legally from its web page.

(2019 update. there is a newer version with importan improvements: it completes blank corners in a realistic way and it has a better way to zoom without losing quality to check the stitch. You can see it here)

Microsoft ICE (Image Composite Editor) is a free program to stitch or combine two or more photographs if and only if they overlap. Used usually for panoramas I use it for different occasions.

WHEN IT IS FOR

1. When your lens doesn’t cover the image you want

You want to cover more space than the angle of vision of your lens can give and you cannot, because time or space, move to another position:

Let’s take these two photographs:

photograph to stich a

image a

plus…

photograph to stich b

image b

Then we get:

running at night

stitched from the two previous photographs

But a caveat: if there are objects that don’t repeat in both photographs the program eliminate it from the final version. So actually I cut a bit of image b near the right side of the door so the running man could be in the final image. As you can see I hadn’t time to back up because the man couldn’t be there anymore; nor space because there were the walls of the houses. So my more realistic solution was to photograph with the goal of stitch. Of course you think “then take the photograph in horizontal” but with one I wouldn’t get the whole area I wanted and in horizontal I had need a horizontal more to cover the half top of the hotel and a third vertical to cover the corner at the left.

2. When you need more megapixels and detail

True, there are cameras with 36 megapixels but if you need that resolution just a couple of times in a year, you just can stitch when needed. Here I zoomed in and I stitched five photographs of the tree. The camera is a Sony R1 of ten megapixeles capable of A3 and perhaps beyond processing carefully. So I took five or six photographs and stitched them getting a final photograph with 30 megapixels of data:

legion

See, a 100 % crop of the above photography, it’s from the right side approximately from the middle:

100 per cent crop

100% crop

Of course I could sharpened just one photograph but nothing is free. Usually sharpened photographs can look unnatural and if printed bigger the harshness is quite visible.

It’s always better to have a detailed photograph instead a sharpened one.

3. When you need to control the perspective

Ok, let’s say that you have time and space to take some steps back and get the shot, but then you have to take in account the importance of the perspective.

In the next photograph if I had been farther the perspective would had changed into a smaller rock in the background against the hill in the background. But stitching, because the lens didn’t cover the area I wanted in frame, I got this:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

You have to take the photograph, not the camera for you.

4. When you need to change the aspect ratio of your image

If you have a camera with a big sensor, and you can notice it if your lens is big, then usually the format is 2:3. Sometimes this proportion doesn’t help into the composition, in some cases it can look very skinny in vertical or quite tall in horizontal, so you can take one picture and crop, but this method can leads to an image degraded in its quality. Always is better to stitch than to crop. See the next photograph, is about a lazy bench taking a sunbath at the afternoon:

Seat taking a sunbath

It doesn’t look so bad but notice how the light in the floor is very short, I didn’t take more distance because the perspective had changed and the frontal part of the bench barely can “breath” for the lack of space. That usually happens with the format 2:3, so I took another photograph to the left to stitch them and get this:

just an empty seat if you are not there

The outcome is closer to my vision. The light in the floor insinuate better the nature of the light and the aspect ratio is more proportional to the bench.

RECOMENDATIONS

  • Use more space in the extremes to cover the image you want. It’s due to the perspective. In the next image the corners didn’t cover the frame I wanted so the curve in the bottom is incomplete:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

  • If you have to shoot a panorama if possible set the exposure and put your camera in vertical; and if you’ve to shoot vertical buildings or trees put your camera horizontal. The stitched image is going to have more space to crop. To this vertical tree I took three horizontal photographs:

threeshold to a world in darkness

 

 

  • Although a bit of wind doesn’t damage the stitching try to don’t shoot places with much movement. To get better results you have to turn the camera around a nodal point to reduce distortions. To put it quite simple if you have a zoom lens in its widest angle the axis is near the frontal lens and at its farthest position in the tele side the axis of rotation is closer to the tripod mount in the body of your camera. I take the photographs for that reason handheld. There are specialized tools but they are expensive and I haven’t felt the need for them in the photographs I stitched ;-) The next image is the most successful stitched image in movement, it was taken in a bus in the highway at dusk when you need slow shutter velocities:

tears

 

  • ICE sometimes struggles with the waves of the sea and the trees under a moderate wind. And that’s all, other programs can be more successful in that area. I haven’t tried many more programs, perhaps three, because they aren’t free (I’m not a pro and don’t consider myself a photographer so I don’t need a sophisticated program) or are complex and eat so much time.  ICE instead is free and quite simple. For example I got something better in the next photograph with another program, but I deleted it from my list of programs because it was more complex from what I wanted (for that I don’t remember the name), so I accept the limitation and shoot according that, perhaps ICE now can stitch it but anyway, I didn’t considered the corners (it was one of my first photographs to stitch) so I cloned the superior corners:
the dusk and the beach

(stitched with another software)

* * *

These pictures can give you an idea about the uses of this software:

a road in earth a road in the sky

three vertical photographs stitched

the high parliament of trees

two horizontal photographs stitched

meadow

four vertical photographs

barely a shadow in the shiny day

you can control the final perspective in ICE, in this case my goal was to get straight lines.

the art of adobe

two horizontal photographs stitched

mars countryside

three photographs stitched to show more of the background without lose the sky

a light that doesn't want to see the sunset

At dusk is common to meet long clouds. Two horizontal images stitched.

* * *

FINAL WORDS AND CONCLUSION

You can download it, free and legal, from here: http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/um/redmond/groups/ivm/ICE/

To use it just drag and drop the pics, wait that the program do its process et voilà, your photograph is ready ;-) You have to only be careful with don’t correct the vignetting from the source images and save at one hundred percent of quality file.

 And that’s all folks. With the mentioned caveats I’ve no problem in give a qhapaq of gold to ICE.

Highlight Recovery

flavours

flavours

Time ago I published a technique that exploits the option of highlight recovery in raw converters. I use Photo Ninja, the option highlight recovery is quite strong and a few times I’ve to turn off it. But also it allows me to get a certain mood. I’m sure it’s possible with lightroom, capture one, dxo or any capable raw converter. This post is for amateur mates, I guess it’s one of several techniques taught by professionals but I haven’t found a name or anything related, perhaps high-key photography but it’s not the same.

This is the deal: when you shot a picture and increment the exposure till the picture seems to be in white then you apply an aggressive highlight recovery in your trusty raw converter then the photograph can recover colours but not textures, this can help you to get ethereal meanings. This cannot works in jpg because it hasn’t the same flexibility, it can bear so much aggressive editing.

That’s the technic part, now about the, I’m not going to say art, intention. My intention is try to express an idea of lightness, or an emphasis in the essence of the sunsets.

This is absolutely different to ETTR whose goal is to increment the exposure just enough to avoid clipped highlights to get noiseless shadows but having the highlight data in the raw file.

I think it works better with abstract subjects, where the mind has not to wonder why it looks strange and just accepts that it’s something different.

hidden order

hidden order

candy colors

candy colors

la mer rouge

La mer Rouge

humble reflection

humble reflection

spider

spider

DSC09039v2-XL

say me blue

And this last (that I published alone before), I think I got a dreamy look. Although here I didn’t use so much of the effect because I wanted to show it more natural, to recover the reflections.

DSC00246v1-XL

Criatura

Passenger: Cotahuasi

time-space compression

 

Passenger is a series of photographs I do; taken behind the window of a car or plane in movement. I don’t believe in such thing as a perfect photography (sharpness, dynamic range, accurate color reproduction, clean noise, etcetera) but in perfect ideas. My idea is to use the movement to change the image taken, I could use a higher ISO or use shutter priority and after that recover shadows in raw; but as I said I’m not searching the perfect photo but to represent an idea. This is a simple idea, the technic is pretty simple. Just relax the mind and take the landscape taking in account the velocity of the car and the moment just to shoot. Similar to a Japanese archer when is going to shot an arrow while galloping in a horse.

Ideally to notice some shapes before they look completely blurred the time should be less than a second. If it’s more you should move the camera to follow the subject (panning). 1/100 of second the distant objects could look static what usually looks not good because it seems a half idea, neither it’s not blurred nor it’s static. As always the rules are to be broken (when you know them perfectly)

black clouds upon the face

black clouds upon the face

u and me

u and me

tree at dawn

tree at dawn

remember the sea

remember the sea

till to cover the world

till cover the planet

Sol y Luna

Photo02_2v1-XL

 

I’m still experimenting with the Canon EF film camera, and with rolls of expired Kodak ProImage 200. I saw Mitsubishi and Samsung rolls so I’ll give them a try.

What you are seeing is actually a double exposure: two different images projected in just one single frame of film. With the Canon EF I can shoot multiple exposures, not just two. In this case I mixed a sunset with the moon (it’s the white shape above the tree almost in the bottom middle where was previously the sun) It has a nice result: the blue sky has mixed and colored with blue the shadows and clouds and give to the warm sunset tones a cool effect IMHO. To put the moon in that specific place I used the aperture marks in the viewfinder as a guide. If it would be a slide I would have to change the ISO to compensate but with the negative latitude that’s not necessary.

Well, it has to be a nice photograph because it was EXPENSIVE, lol. You’ve to buy a roll, take it to the lab, import batteries and a long etcetera. I am not sure if the longitudinal marks are from the camera (I think not) or from the lab (perhaps) or from the expired film (I hope so)

Anyway, I’ll see if I can take sea photographs, tomorrow I’m travelling to the coast. It would be fantastic to go to the beach a bit ;-)