One of the first things I bought for my Nikon D40 was a circular polarizer (CP). I had a cheap Cokin CP for my Kodak superzoom and I got some decent shots with it. For the D40 I wanted something better... By the time I was ready for the purchase I new I was going to buy the Nikkor 55-200mm VR which has 52mm threads, just like the kit lens, so it made sense to get a 52mm CP. My first choice was a B+W filter - I had a B+W ND filter for my superzoom and was really impressed with its quality. My second choice was Hoya. For some reason I could not find 52mm B+W CPs at that time at any of the major internet retailers (like B&H and Adorama) so I paid a visit to my local camera store.
They did not have the 52mm B+W CP either, but had the Hoya HMC CP. I was more interested in the Hoya S-HMC or Pro 1 Digital versions, but I decided to give the HMC a try. I asked one of the staff members whether it would vignette on the D40 kit lens at its widest angle and was offered a suggestion instead: how about a ProMaster Digital CP?
I'd never heard of this brand before, and it was quite expensive (a little over $100) but I was told it's comparable with B+W in quality and better than the Hoya. Well, I decided to give it a try and return it if I wasn't satisfied...
The case label says that it is made in Japan (this is also written on the CP), has digital anti-reflection multi coating, black almite frame and black rimmed glass, it is thin to prevent vignetting and has raised knurled frame edges for easy attachment and removal (though this might interfere with hoods - I have not yet checked this). It was only when I got back home that I remembered the kit lens front rotates during AF...
Well, it should work just fine with the 55-200 VR.
The next weekend I took it with me on my photo outing to see how it hadles - using it with the kit lens could give me an idea of how manual focus would be with AF lenses...
And I had a lot of fun... I would half-press the shutter button to get focus lock, and wile keeping my finger on the shutter button to maintain the focus lock I would rotate the front of the CP with my left hand to get the desired effect (seen in the viewfinder). When satisfied I would fully press the shutter button to take the picture - it worked, and IT WAS fun!
The CP is well built and does its job pretty well. The front part rotates smoothly without being too loose. So far I did not notice any vignetting.
Later on when I got the 55-200 VR I was able to use it without having to readjust after focus lock... Here is an example of taking a picture through a window at the Washington DC Zoo. I had the CP mounted on the lens for both shots but I set it to get the minimum effect for the first one and the maximum effect for the second one.
Nikon D40, 55-200 VR @ 125mm, ISO 400, f8, 1/125 sec, Center Weighted Average Metering
You can see the reflections in the window were pretty bad. How much did the CP help?
Pretty much, I'd say!
Nikon D40, 55-200 VR @ 125mm, ISO 400, f8, 1/100 sec, Center Weighted Average Metering
Both images were straight conversions from NEFs with ACR4.1 @ default settings, with no PP other than resizing and saving with PE 5.
Of course, the angle remains pretty important when shooting with a CP.
All in all this CP works pretty well. A few questions do remain, however:
- is it as good as a B+W filter?
- is it worth its price?
- who else bought ProMaster products and how happy are you with them?