PolarPro have been dominating the world of drone filters for years, with them proving extremely popular with drone users looking to achieve longer shutter speeds and more cinematic video footage. However, as of April 2018, PolarPro launched a new series of filters called QuartzLine, aimed at photographers and videographers using DSLR's and Mirrorless cameras.
After being approached by PolarPro, I had the opportunity to test out three of their new filters - the CP, ND64/PL and ND1000Pl, all for the 77mm filter system, and be one of the first to review them here in the UK. Before I go into an in-depth review with image samples taken across Dorset, let's take a look at the specs:
- Filter Size: 37mm, 46mm, 67mm, 77mm, 82mm
- Filter Type: UV, CP, ND8, ND8/PL, ND16, ND16/PL, ND64. ND64/PL, ND1000, ND1000PL, ND100K
- Price Range: $59.99 - $249.99
- Construction: Brass Frame with a 99.9% pure fused quartz element (that's right, not plastic or glass, but Quartz)
- Perfect Colour Neutrality
- Anti-scratch, anti-oil, anti-fingerprint and hydrophobic coating
Places to purchase | PolarPro
What Comes in The Box
It's clear to see from the offset, PolarPro have put a lot of effort into making these feel like a premium product, starting with the packaging. Within the box you get your chosen filter in a hard case, soft pouch with an integrated cleaning cloth, and a microfibre cleaning cloth. Both the hard and soft cases are labelled with the filter type to allow quick identification on shoot.
Being out and about on the Dorset coast, scrambling rocks and battling with sea water, I'm always worried about scratching or damaging my filters, especially as a good set of filters can cost the same amount as a decent lens. So, after using the QuartzLine filters for a good few weeks, I can say I was highly impressed with their build quality. Finger prints don't stick, water beads like a freshly waxed car thanks to the hydrophobic coating, and due to both the black and bronze part of the ring being indented, it's easy to take on and off while out in the field. Partnered with the lifetime warranty, the QuartzLine range is built to last.
Equivalent to a 6 stop neutral density filter, the ND64/PL is great for when the sun is low in the sky and just about to set. It gives you that perfect balance between a long-exposure and fast shutter speed (you know those times where you wish you had a 20 second shutter speed instead of 1/3) but didn't want rely on using a remote shutter.
Throughout my shoots, I'd say this was the most popular filter I reached for. Personally, it provided me with the look I'm always after when shooting down on the coast.
Who is this for?
If you find yourself jumping between photography and videography, this may be the better option for you. It gives you 6 more stops of control that works well in bright daylight and also at sunrise and sunset, making it ideal for landscape and seascape photography.
This is probably the effect you most likely refer to as a "long exposure" and requires a minimum of a 10 stop neutral density filter - up steps the ND100/PL. In the past I've used a variety of ND filters that have all had a strong colour cast, not the QuartzLine range though, the colours remain accurate and almost completely unaffected .
Although annoying in camera, it's easily fixed in post-processing but in my eyes, the less time you spend in front of the computer editing and more on location shooting, the better.
Who is this for?
I'd say it's best aimed at landscape photographers who do a lot of seascape photography and love that milky water effect - although, because it has a built in polariser, it would also be perfect for shooting waterfalls and rivers in the middle of the day.
When should you use a polarising filter?
If you've followed me for a while, you'd know I always go on about the importance of using a polarising filter. In my eyes, it's by far the most important tool for landscape photography. There's loads of reviews out there explaining what they do, but basically it reduces glare on the surface of water, boosts vibrance and adds contrast. It's the only filter that can't be reproduced in post-processing and is by far, my most used filter. The team over at PolarPro know this and that's why they include a ND/PL in their new range of filters, combining both an ND filter with a circular polariser. Please see below for an example, note the increased contrast in the sky and reduced glare in the water:
But you can't use a graduated ND filter for an overexposed sky?
Nope. This is very true and is in actual fact the only negative point I can find about these filters, and that's not even their fault. How can you create a circular filter with a grad? I'd be blow away if someone works out that one... maybe one day! Don't worry though, although you can't get your exposure spot on in camera, you just have to do it the "modern" way and take two exposures which can be masked in Photoshop. It really isn't that hard and actually gives you a lot more dynamic range to play with - see below a shot I took at Old Harry Rocks, facing directly at sunrise, where I took one exposure for the foreground and another for the sky, then blended in post-processing:
If you are serious about your landscape photography, then using filters is somewhat essential, especially those that create an effect which cannot be emulated in post-processing. A circular polariser allows you to cut through reflections in water, glare on leaves and wet rocks, and even enhance skies and boost colours in a more natural way. The fact that PolarPro combined this with both 6 and 10 stop natural density filters is revolutionary, a real game changer for photographers and videographers alike.
I often carry around at least 6-7 different filters, you know those rectangular ones which rhyme with "free" and over the past year, they have allowed me to capture more in camera and reduce my time editing (the more I'm out with the camera and not sat in front of the screen the better) so when PolarPro got in touch and said they'd put a lot of R&D into a new range of QuartzLine filters, I jumped at the opportunity to collaborate. I know they are not the cheapest and you can't combine them with a graduated filter (my only negative point), but if you want a high quality filter that's built to withstand extreme conditions, produce almost zero colour cast and allows you to slow down your shutter speed while reducing glare, you will not be disappointed with these.
- Extremely durable and scratch resistant
- Neutral colours - no colour cast
- Two in one filter if you buy the ND/PL type
- Strong polarisation
The Not So Good:
- Fairly expensive HOWEVER, when you think you are getting an ND filter and Polariser in one, they're not that bad
- No option to use graduated ND filters