Circular Polarizing Filters Will Take Your Footage To The Next Level– Here’s How To Use Them

by Bret Hoy1 Comment

I shoot Sony a7S, so I know just as much as anyone out there how important it is to control not only the shadows of your image but the highlights. Usually, this is fairly simple operation. You know how to do that! Just adjust those aperture and ISO dials.

Clearly, it’s not always that simple. In fact, not only is it not that simple, some times you need ancillary products to control an overly bright sun. In this case, we’re talking about highlights in the sky and reflections on water or glass.

We’re talking about Polarizing Filters, and how they work for you.

There are a variety of Polarizers on the market these days, however there is one style that stands above the rest when it comes to the average shooter – The Circular Polarizing Filter. This is because it allows you to fine tune the amount of polarization that you need in each image.

This video, posted to YouTube by Professional Photography Tips teaches you the correct way to use this type of photography filter from virtually every angle. Use this knowledge and take your images and footage to the next level.

How to Use a Circular Polarizing Filter (CPL) Like a Champ

You'll often hear that a circular polarizing filter, or CPL, is a must have addition to your gear bag, but once you've got it how do you use it for the best possible results?

Subscribe to the Pro Photo Tips newsletter to receive the very best in Nature Photography Education:

(cover photo credit: snap from video)

Bret Hoy

Bret Hoy

Bret Hoy is a filmmaker, photographer and writer based out of St. Louis, Missouri. Mainly focused on documentary and experimental film, he has produced, directed, shot and edited many short films and a few long form works.

He shoots a lot and often.
Bret Hoy


  1. A polarizer is a polarizer and rotating any of them will alter how much effect it has.

    Light travels through the air at many different angles and a polarizer acts a bit like a coin slot…the coin only goes in if it matches the angle of the slot (vertical)…if you try to insert it at any other angle, it doesn’t go through. A polarizer cuts the light that doesn’t align…like reflections in a window when the angle is optimal, glare on pavement and water surfaces, etc.

    A ‘circular’ (not shape) polarizer was originally designed for a multi-sensor camera (video camera- 3CCD/CMOS, etc.). The prism inside the camera separates wavelengths of light to route them to the different sensors. That prism can act like a second polarizer. This is why a non-circular polarizer on a 3 chip camera renders colors so differently as you rotate it.

    A circular polarizer does its job and then takes the light, and for over simplification’s sake, it ‘puts a ‘spiral’ on it so the prism no longer creates a ‘double polarization’ effect.

    In today’s camera landscape, the circular polarizer ‘spiral’ also allows DSLRs and other cameras that use metering and auto-focus through the lens to work properly. However the effect of polarization doesn’t really change if the polarizer is ‘circular’.

Leave a Comment