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Author Topic: Haze filter - will it cut though the smog?  (Read 1809 times)

e17paul

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Haze filter - will it cut though the smog?
« on: October 13, 2013, 01:19:23 PM »
At risk of stirring up controversy ...

Earlier in the summer, I went out onto the Greenway in East London and took some photos of the city skyline some miles away. I was using my cheap second hand stop-gap Vivitar 70-300mm, and the skyscrapers on the horizon were somewhat hazy. When I get back to base in the week, I can post an example.

Is this because I'm using a cheap rubbish lens? Or would a haze filter live up to it's name and cut through the haze? Or is the city smog unavoidable?

If anyone can advise from their own experience, it will save me from gambling on the purchase of a filter that may not help, and put the money towards the next new lens. I understand from elsewhere that UV filters are not relevant for digital sensors, as they were for film.

Conditions were clear (so I thought) and the sun was shining. I don't usually use UV or protection filters - though when I invest in my first expensive L lens, I will get a protect (not UV) filter to complete the weatherproofing. I am unclear about the difference between a haze filter, haze/UV filter, and UV filter - are they the same, or is a haze filter different?

Apologies for the flurry of questions. I didn't know if the answers will cut through the haze in my mind, or add to the confusion.
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Haze filter - will it cut though the smog?
« on: October 13, 2013, 01:19:23 PM »

lintoni

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Re: Haze filter - will it cut though the smog?
« Reply #1 on: October 13, 2013, 01:45:18 PM »
Just to confuse the issue - you may find that a polarising filter will do a better job of cutting through the haze.

Have a look here for an example:

http://www.dslrtips.com/workshops/How_to_use_polarizing_filters/reduce_haze_deep_blue_sky.shtml
« Last Edit: October 13, 2013, 01:47:44 PM by lintoni »

rs

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Re: Haze filter - will it cut though the smog?
« Reply #2 on: October 13, 2013, 02:01:57 PM »
Just to confuse the issue - you may find that a polarising filter will do a better job of cutting through the haze.

Have a look here for an example:

http://www.dslrtips.com/workshops/How_to_use_polarizing_filters/reduce_haze_deep_blue_sky.shtml

+1

Digital sensors aren't susceptible to UV light like film is, so UV filters are unlikely to have any positive effect.
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Mt Spokane Photography

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Re: Haze filter - will it cut though the smog?
« Reply #3 on: October 13, 2013, 02:02:11 PM »
A haze filter removes some of the blue tones to give the illusion of less haze, you can do the same thing with a image editor and not have the distortion added by the filter.  Use a circular polarizing filter, and adjust the blue and violet to warm up the image a little.
 
http://www.cs.mtu.edu/~shene/DigiCam/User-Guide/filter/filter-UV.html
 
Haze is caused by dust particles in the air.  These particles reflect shorter wavelengths more than the longer ones.  Thus, UV is affected the most,  followed by blue, followed by green and red, and the recorded images will be  not very sharp and look hazy.  Haze filters are designed to reduce haze and  are yellowish to counter the excessive blue.  For example, Tiffen Haze 1  reduces excess blue and transmits 29% at 400mm wavelength, while Tiffen Haze  2A provides greater ultra-violet correction than Haze 1 and transmits 0% at  400mm wavelength.  However, for color photography, polarizers are frequently used.  Note that although polarizers many not cut through haze as effectively  as Haze filters do, polarizer can increase the contrast of the scene by  eliminating reflection!

e17paul

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Re: Haze filter - will it cut though the smog?
« Reply #4 on: October 13, 2013, 02:02:43 PM »
Just to confuse the issue - you may find that a polarising filter will do a better job of cutting through the haze.

Thanks Lintoni, I have a polarising filter on my 50/2.5 to deepen blues in the sky, but had not made the connection to reducing haze in long range telephoto shots. Doh! I will kick myself now, but that's better kicking myself for spending on a haze filter that may not do much.

I will get a polariser and give it a try, because it will be good to have anyway. The only downside is that the front element of the 70-300 rotates, but I can cope with that at infinity focus. Your comment may postpone the purchase of a 70-200/4L, so that I can have a 100L first.  :D
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photonius

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Re: Haze filter - will it cut though the smog?
« Reply #5 on: October 13, 2013, 02:04:18 PM »
At risk of stirring up controversy ...

Earlier in the summer, I went out onto the Greenway in East London and took some photos of the city skyline some miles away. I was using my cheap second hand stop-gap Vivitar 70-300mm, and the skyscrapers on the horizon were somewhat hazy. When I get back to base in the week, I can post an example.

Is this because I'm using a cheap rubbish lens? Or would a haze filter live up to it's name and cut through the haze? Or is the city smog unavoidable?

If anyone can advise from their own experience, it will save me from gambling on the purchase of a filter that may not help, and put the money towards the next new lens. I understand from elsewhere that UV filters are not relevant for digital sensors, as they were for film.

Conditions were clear (so I thought) and the sun was shining. I don't usually use UV or protection filters - though when I invest in my first expensive L lens, I will get a protect (not UV) filter to complete the weatherproofing. I am unclear about the difference between a haze filter, haze/UV filter, and UV filter - are they the same, or is a haze filter different?

Apologies for the flurry of questions. I didn't know if the answers will cut through the haze in my mind, or add to the confusion.

well, the normal haze filters are really UV filters, so they don't do much on modern dSLRs.  As pointed out, the CPL may work better, depending on the conditions.
If you do black and white, a red filter will reduce haze - as used in black and white days.  You can try to see how your image looks if you only take the red channel (it's basically a red filtered image) and convert it to black and white.

Your lens may exacerbate the haze issue by giving less contrast than a better lens. However, haze is not really something that can be avoided, all you can do is look for the best weather conditions (mornings, after rain, etc.). It's part of the air, and even people like Leonardo da Vinci worked with it by giving distant backgrounds a more hazy look.

e17paul

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Re: Haze filter - will it cut though the smog?
« Reply #6 on: October 13, 2013, 02:30:00 PM »
Thanks all, Your replies are really helpful.

I have this year returned to photography after a long break (1996), having given up when I bought a rally car and could not afford the film/D&P. I am learning a lot by trial and error, and some by Google, but sometimes that falls short. I did buy a point and shoot around 10 years ago, but that doesn't have the possibilities of the OM-10 and 6D.

Photonius, I am using orange filters on my OM lenses, but don't yet have any for my Canon lenses. I will give the 135/2.8 a try when we have a weekend with better weather than this one. They have been a great benefit indoors and out, especially on the 24/2.8
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Re: Haze filter - will it cut though the smog?
« Reply #6 on: October 13, 2013, 02:30:00 PM »

Don Haines

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Re: Haze filter - will it cut though the smog?
« Reply #7 on: October 13, 2013, 03:52:26 PM »
You might be better off dealing with the problem through software than with a filter.


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photonius

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Re: Haze filter - will it cut though the smog?
« Reply #8 on: October 13, 2013, 05:10:11 PM »
Thanks all, Your replies are really helpful.

I have this year returned to photography after a long break (1996), having given up when I bought a rally car and could not afford the film/D&P. I am learning a lot by trial and error, and some by Google, but sometimes that falls short. I did buy a point and shoot around 10 years ago, but that doesn't have the possibilities of the OM-10 and 6D.

Photonius, I am using orange filters on my OM lenses, but don't yet have any for my Canon lenses. I will give the 135/2.8 a try when we have a weekend with better weather than this one. They have been a great benefit indoors and out, especially on the 24/2.8


As pointed out above, many effects can be recreated on the computer. I have old color filters (red, green, yellow, for b&w), but have never gotten around to try them on a color dSLR. I would assume most effects can just be simulated easily in the computer. On the other hand, putting a color filter in front of the sensor does affect how the sensor records the image, so it might come out slightly different than if you just tinker with the RGB channels of a "normal" image in the computer (that's why I said above you could try a red filter, if you do black and white, to eliminate haze though I do not know if a red filter would perform differently from just using the R channel of the image - my point was that if you filter out shorter wavelengths, some of the haze goes).

Some filters are unique though, such as the CPL, as well as the Didymium filters (used as redenhances), which cannot really be imitated in photoshop, due to the way it specifically filters light.

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2486/4029111611_834f357a32.jpg


dgatwood

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Re: Haze filter - will it cut though the smog?
« Reply #9 on: October 14, 2013, 01:06:38 AM »
Definitely second the opinion of doing it in software.  The way I usually do it is:

  • Boost the contrast as needed, then tweak the exposure to suit.
  • Tweak the color balance away from blue a bit, then tweak the red-green balance as needed.
  • If necessary, use split-toning to add a bit more yellow/orange in the highlights.
  • Go back and push the shadows and pull back the highlights and blacks to suit.

Usually with those tweaks, I can get a decent-looking picture even on pretty nasty days.  As always, YMMV, and the devil's in the details.

Oh, and occasionally, I bump up Lightroom's clarity slider and reduce the saturation.
« Last Edit: October 14, 2013, 01:09:01 AM by dgatwood »

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Re: Haze filter - will it cut though the smog?
« Reply #9 on: October 14, 2013, 01:06:38 AM »