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August 21, 2010 4:26 PM   Subscribe

I'm taking my Canon G11 on a sailing vacation in the Greek islands. I expect lots of blue sky, brilliant sun, and light reflecting off the water. I've never used any kind of filter before, but should I consider it this time? If so, what do I need to know to make a filter work with my camera? Is a circular polarizer the best way to go or are there other filters to consider?

I have done some Googling and read that attaching a filter directly to the G11 can cause vignetting at certain zoom levels. I've seen that Lensmate makes a 72mm adapter that resolves the vignetting problem. But now I'm talking $100 or more to get the adapter and a filter, and I am such a beginning photographer that it feels like overkill. Plus I have to pack all that stuff. On the other hand, if I can come home with an amazing shot or two, that would be awesome.

So, yea, tell me what I should do. Also, are the low-end filters always a bad idea or can I get away with it this time?
posted by cabingirl to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (9 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I have one of these for my Canon Digital Rebel and it makes a world of difference to shots taken with water and skies. Have a good practice with it before you go so that fiddling with it doesn't make you miss shots. That said, they are a snap to use.
posted by merocet at 4:32 PM on August 21, 2010

The G11 has a built-in Neutral Density filter, which, if nothing else, you should turn on in very bright lighting.
posted by Mwongozi at 4:33 PM on August 21, 2010

Best answer: I have a Lensmate for my G9 that I use with a polarizer now and then and it rocks. I think you'll be very pleased with the combination, cost notwithstanding. I know this is a non-answer, but I think you can't go wrong either way. You'll probably take some fantastic photos without the Lensmate/polarizer, and definitely take some with. I'd say go for it if you have the cash to spend, as the extra bulk/weight really is minimal (ounces, maybe), and a polarizer will be great in that locale.
posted by The Michael The at 5:01 PM on August 21, 2010

A circular polarizer is essentially a linear polarizer with a special layer on the backside which converts the now-linearly polarized light into circularly polarized light. This is done so that you can avoid the interaction between the filter and the focus and other sensors inside the camera which may be polarization sensitive.

Try out the polarizer at home and get used to it... if you are going to do panorama shots, take it off, as the sky won't be uniform with a polarizer. The other thing to watch out for is the fact that the sky appears impossibly blue through a polarizer, and might look fake.
posted by MikeWarot at 5:03 PM on August 21, 2010

According to members of my forum, the G11 will work with a linear polarizer or a circular one. If you want to use it with a DSLR, be sure to get a circular one.
posted by fake at 5:05 PM on August 21, 2010

Hoya filters are highly regarded. A circular polarizer is what you want. It will make the skies a deeper blue and remove water (as well as glass and metal) reflections. You will have to rotate it to achieve the effect you are after, so if your lens focuses by rotating it's outer rim you will have to readjust the filter after you focus, but most newer lenses don't focus that way.

As far as quality goes a multicoated filter will be higher quality than a regular single coated filter, although there are diminishing returns on the super fancy lots of multicoated filters. I would hazed a guess that the cheapest multicoated model for your filter size is the sweet spot of bang for you buck on quality.

I'm not familiar with any vignetting issues with your camera but what you saw probably referred to vignetting with a wide angle lens (which is of course good for landscapes). You can use a thin filter to avoid that problem but it will add to the cost. If you search for "hoya circular polarizer thin" plus your filter size you should be set.

The thin filters will be close to $100, but they will be multicoated / high quality, as well as cheaper and less bulky than a filter plus adapter. If you don't go thin you'll probably be in the $30-50 range.
posted by ridogi at 5:18 PM on August 21, 2010

The circular polarizer is just going to cut reflections. It's not going to help you with bright subject / dark shadow problems of intense sun. For that what you need is a graduated neutral-density filter, preferably a 3-stop, hard-step.


Also known as ND filters. Reduce the amount of light that hits the sensor without giving any particular color cast.

Graduated ND filters fade from their rated value to clear. This is helpful for shots where you only want particular areas of an image to be darker (like the sun at the top of a framing).

Each stop is one step darker.

Describes the transition between the dark part of the filter and the clear area. Hard-steps use less area for transitioning than soft-steps.

Read this.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:38 PM on August 21, 2010

Best answer: I have a G9 with one of those attachment things from Canon, and another off-brand one (that's higher quality). The attachment/adapter is just intended for a teleconverter/wide angle converter and the plastic housing of the lens actually hits any filters I have when I mount a filter directly to the filter.

The G11 should have a built in neutral density filter - which will let you take longer exposures in bright light (useful for making rushing water in a waterfall or stream turn into a long stream of light, for example). [example] [example]

A polarizing filter will do fun stuff with leaves, sky and water and you should experiment with it. You rotate it until things look the way you want.

I don't know about any vignetting problems, but it sounds like it would make sense to get the thing that would stop that. Also, get the cheap filter - you're going on vacation and just learning the ropes. If nothing else, it'll make you appreciate the expensive filters later.

A graduated neutral density filter will help with the 'bright sky, dark foreground' problem, but remember that these things screw on & off and require rotation into the right position. At least with just one filter, you can keep the filter connected to the adapter and it'll pop on & off in seconds, but if you want to experiment with filters, it would also be one worth looking at.

Lastly, get a rubber, collapsing lens hood to go with the filter (e.g. 72mm). It will protect the filter (broken glass on a boat = no fun), and will let you on-the-fly expand the lens hood to cut down on glare on the lens or filter - stray light hitting the lens from the side will make your photos look "washed out" and you'll blame the camera, when really it's photographic technique. A lens hood will help make more of your photos nice & contrasty, rather than washed out looking. Sometimes that washed out look is nice & vintage-y, but if you want impressive photos, you want a lens hood. It may show up at the wide range of the lens, but that's ok, you can just collapse it down in those cases and use your hand.
posted by MesoFilter at 8:57 PM on August 21, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks everyone. I think I'll go ahead with the Lensmate adapter+72mm circular polarizer. If the thread's still open I'll post a link to pics when I get back!
posted by cabingirl at 7:33 PM on August 22, 2010

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