Top Circular Polarizers for Wide Angle Lenses: Your Guide

February 9, 2024
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On bright, sunny days, photographers often face the annoyance of glare and unwanted reflections that can ruin a great shot. Circular polarizers for wide lenses are the perfect solution to this all-too-common problem.

Every photographer aims to capture crisp, colorful, and free from any distractions, such as glare, especially when using lenses for wildlife photography. Circular polarizers are designed specifically to tackle these issues, reducing unwanted light reflections and significantly improving the quality of your photos.

These filters serve as a shield for your lens, ensuring it performs its best even when the lighting conditions are less than ideal. In this guide, we’ll explore the top circular polarizes for wide lenses to help enhance your photography skills.

What Is a Circular Polarizer and What Does It Do?

Have you ever noticed how sometimes your photos seem too bright or the colors look washed out? A circular polarizer is a special filter that fits over your camera lens to tackle these issues head-on. It cuts down on glare and reflections, boosts color richness and vibrancy, and clears up any haziness. It’s like giving your photos a dose of clarity and color intensity, highlighting details that too much light might have hidden.

How Does a Circular Polarizer Work?

Circular polarizers consist of a polarizing lens and a piece that attaches to your camera. Once it’s on, you can rotate the polarizer to adjust the effect. You can dial in the exact look you want by turning it while looking through your camera, from cutting reflections to enhancing colors. 

It’s a good idea to take a few test shots to see how changes affect your images. The impact can vary significantly with the environment and lighting, from dramatic to subtle enhancements.

When to Use a Circular Polarizer?

Though you can use circular polarizers in various situations, they shine in landscape and urban photography. They’re perfect for making natural scenes pop—think water, trees, skies, and leaves—by minimizing light glare and making colors more profound. 

In cities, polarizers can work wonders on buildings, cars, and streets, capturing the vibrancy and details lost to reflections. Essentially, they add depth and detail to your urban and natural landscapes, making them indispensable tools for outdoor photography.

The Best Circular Polarizers for Wide Angle Lenses

Photographers have various tools at their disposal to capture the perfect shot. Circular polarizers are among the most effective for eliminating light glares and reflections while boosting the photo’s color intensity.

Whether you’re on a budget, looking for something slim, or ready to invest in a high-end option, here are our top picks for circular polarizers for wide-angle lenses. 

These recommendations are designed to help you find the perfect fit for your photography needs and preferences.

1. LEE Filters LEE100 Polarizer 

The LEE100 Polarizer by LEE Filters reduces reflections, enhances color saturation, and makes skies bluer and clouds stand out more distinctly. All these improvements come without sacrificing the details in your images, which remain crisp and clear when viewed up close on a computer. It introduces a slight warming effect, but you can easily adjust this during the post-processing of RAW files if it doesn’t suit your taste.

True to LEE Filters’ claims, this polarizer cuts light by about 1.6 stops (EV) when used at maximum strength.

Its design allows it to clip onto the LEE100 Holder, enabling photographers to use it alongside up to two rectangular filters, such as a neutral density filter for longer exposure times and a graduated ND filter for balancing the brightness between the sky and land. However, this specific clipping system restricts its use exclusively to the LEE100 Holder, limiting compatibility with other filter systems.

While pricier, this high-end circular polarizer justifies its cost with exceptional image quality and versatility. Its 105mm diameter means it fits a wide range of lenses, and its multi-coated surface further enhances its performance.

2. X4 CPL 77mm Circular Polarizer Filter

The X4 CPL 77mm Circular Polarizer Filter stands out as a high-end choice in the market, notable for its slightly higher price but advanced features. It boasts controlled light transmission, uses clear crown glass for clarity, and ranks as one of the most color-neutral filters available.

While achieving a perfectly flat transmission curve—and thus absolute color neutrality—is impossible for any circular polarizer filter, the X4 CPL comes closest to this ideal. This claim challenges the assertions of other filter manufacturers, positioning the X4 CPL as the top choice for color neutrality.

This filter is designed to fit all camera lenses with a 77mm thread size, typically noted under the lens cap or along the lens barrel. Matching the filter size with your lens thread is crucial to ensure a proper fit.

One unique feature of the X4 CPL is its approach to eliminating the standard yellow cast found in most CPL filters. This is achieved by gradually reducing transmission from 600nm and a controlled approach to infrared light, avoiding the usual spike around 650nm. The result is warm and vibrant images, free from the unwanted color casts seen with other filters.

3. Hoya 77mm NXT Plus Circular Polarizer Slim Frame Glass Filter

The Hoya 77mm NXT Plus Circular Polarizer is an exceptional choice for photographers looking for a high-quality option that doesn’t break the bank. Its slim design makes it an ideal companion for wide-angle lenses, ensuring it doesn’t intrude on your shot while providing the polarizing effect you desire.

This filter, available in various sizes, fits different lens diameters and offers versatility for other photography needs. A waterproof top-coat, its standout feature simplifies cleaning by allowing easy wiping away water droplets and smudges.

Crafted from Hoya’s polished clear glass and featuring 10 layers of HMC multi-coatings, this filter guarantees excellent clarity and color fidelity. A filter factor of 1.72 offers a good balance of light reduction and image enhancement.

The low-profile aluminum frame contributes to the filter’s lightweight design and minimizes the risk of vignetting, even when used with wide-angle lenses. This combination of features positions the Hoya 77mm NXT Plus as a prime choice for photographers seeking a durable, practical, and budget-friendly circular polarizer.

4. Hoya HD3 Circular Polarizer 77MM

The Hoya HD3 Circular Polarizer 77MM is on the higher end of the spectrum regarding price within the Hoya lineup, but for good reason. This filter is designed to be smooth for easy cleaning and extra tough for superior lens protection. It boasts an impressive light transmission rate of 92%, ensuring your images remain bright and clear while benefiting from the polarizing effect.

Additionally, this polarizer comes with a limited warranty, but it’s important to note that it applies only to purchases made through USA Authorized Retailers. This added layer of security makes the Hoya HD3 an investment in enhancing and protecting your photography.

For photographers who demand the best durability and performance, the Hoya HD3 Circular Polarizer represents a top-tier option, combining high-light transmission with rugged build quality.

5. Marumi 77mm DHG Circular Polarising Filter

The Marumi 77mm DHG Circular Polarising Filter offers photographers a budget-friendly option without compromising quality. It stands out for its excellent value for money, providing superior image quality across various lens sizes. While its light transmission may not match some of its pricier counterparts, it still delivers commendable performance for its price point.

This filter, featuring DHG (Digital High Grade) coating, enhances the lens’s performance and ensures high-quality, contrast-rich images specifically designed for digital cameras. Its compatibility with wide-angle lenses marks a significant plus, and it allows for the attachment of a front lens cap, adding to its convenience and usability.

The DHG Circular is an ideal choice for photographers who need a reliable polarising filter that maximizes lens performance without a hefty investment, making it a wise pick for both amateur and experienced photographers looking to enhance their shots while keeping an eye on budget.

Key Considerations for Purchasing a Circular Polarizer

When in the market for a circular polarizer filter, there are several important factors to keep in mind:

  • Compatibility with Wide-Angle Lenses: Not all wide-angle lenses can accommodate the screw-in mechanism of circular polarizers. Additionally, lenses with a curved front element might not support the attachment of a filter. Verifying that your wide-angle lens is compatible with a circular polarizer before purchasing is essential.
  • Transmission and Polarization Balance: High transmission filters, which allow more light to pass through, tend to offer less polarization effect. This isn’t necessarily a drawback, as having more light can be beneficial in certain situations, and a balanced level of polarization can provide more flexibility in controlling the effect.
  • Optimal Transmission Range: Generally, the most effective circular polarizers have a transmission loss of about 1.2 to 1.4 stops. While budget-friendly options may result in a 2-stop reduction, higher-quality filters with a 1.2 to 1.4-stop reduction tend to offer better performance.
  • Choosing the Right Size: It’s advisable to select a circular polarizer that matches your lens’s thread diameter to ensure a proper fit. You can also opt for a larger filter and use a step-up ring to attach it securely to your lens.

Considering these aspects, you can make a more informed decision when selecting a circular polarizer, ensuring that it meets your photography needs and is compatible with your equipment.

Circular Polarizers Are Great Tools for Your Photography Kit

Circular polarizers are invaluable additions to any photographer’s toolkit, offering the dual benefits of enhancing color saturation and eliminating unwanted light glare and reflections. While using them with wide-angle lenses can present challenges, it’s achievable with some know-how.

Slim circular polarizers are often the best fit for those shooting with wide-angle lenses, minimizing the risk of vignetting and ensuring a more uniform effect across your images. However, if you’re open to experimenting, other types of polarizers can also be used, though they may introduce noticeable variations in color and lighting within your shots.

Before committing to a particular polarizer or setting, testing it out in various shooting scenarios is crucial. This trial-and-error approach allows you to fine-tune the polarizer’s effect, ensuring you’re satisfied with its impact on your photography.


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