This is my first post in a LL forum, so perhaps I should introduce myself...
First of all, English is not my native language even though I live in the U.S.A., so bear with me if I don't always make sense. I am involved in photography since 1971. For the last 2 and a half years I am using a digital camera exclusively.
I'd like to ask those of you who are involved in digital photography a question I wasn't able to get an answer to so far, even though I already posted this problem on a couple of prominent forums. It may sound silly and it may be dismissed very easily without even a second thought, but I hope to get to the bottom of this problem. Here it goes:
Previous weekend, we had a perfect sunny day here on Long Island. The sky was blue and almost without a speck of a cloud. As I learned from TV weather report later that weekend, the UV-content advisory was in the purple zone, which was the highest possible. I went with a girl to the beach to take some "summer photos" and I decided to use my polarizer.
I expected no reflections on the water, really deep blue skies and saturated colors. The resulting images were less than spectacular. The reflections on the water were indeed gone. Skies were of various depth of blue, but not much deeper than the ones photographed without polarizer. But that wasn't the biggest of my disappointments. What's worse, overall contrast was lower than normal and my pictures contained visible noise/grain (all pictures were taken as RAW at ISO 100). I use Leica Digilux 2 with a non-interchangeable lens which has an unique filter diameter (69mm). For that reason, there's only one polarizer that fits that lens. And it's been made specifically for this particular lens by one of the best filter manufacturers in the world (Heliopan). So, there's no question of incompatibility or low quality of the filter.
So, I started wondering. In the past, I've heard complaints about results of the D2/polarizer combo. I've never thought much of those complaints until now. Couple of days after I took those pictures, I read a post on another forum. In that post, an owner of Canon 20D wrote of his own experience that was like an exact mirror image of my own disappointment - and it happened exactly at the same time, only he lived in Ireland and I live in NY metro area.
So far, I have been unable to find time for any tests and this weekend weather was not cooperating either. At this point, I am really not sure that I should expect better results from pictures taken in such situation - for the following reasons:
- The sensor, especially small one like in my camera, the anti-UV filters built around every camera's sensor and the firmware of the camera may all act alone or in combination producing degraded image quality when dealing with light filtered by a polarizing filter.
- Extremely high UV content in the light may force the camera's firmware to work beyond its normal range of the ability to optimize an image. In that case, I think that even without polarizing filter, I would be able to detect adverse result on the image quality.
- And last but not least, I suspect that the maker of my camera (Leica) predicted potential trouble - otherwise why would they decide to use 69mm filter size (the only lens in existence with this filter size), if not to discourage people from using filters? Leica is well known for their thorough research and sticking to the very highest standards in photography, which makes me think that they didn't want people to use filters with at least this particular model of their camera.
I still intend to do more conclusive testing, but it will take more time and I don't know whether I'll be able to get similar weather conditions...
Did anyone of you ever experienced similar problem or heard of one like that?