Website : Singh-Ray Gold-N-Blue Polarizer
Price : USD 240 to USD 480 (depending on the filter size)
Excellent build quality and optics.
Good for landscapers, unique filter.
On the expensive side.
An all-round good filter.
SPREAD THE POISON!?
Welcome people! Let me first explain “poisoning”. Here in Singapore, we have a very special way to categorize our gear. The better the gear, the more irresistible it is, the more “poisonous” it gets. So yes, this is another of my evil posts to poison people with something called the Singh-Ray Blue-N-Gold Polarizer.
WHAT IS SO SPECIAL ABOUT IT?
I have this filter for a over a year now, and it has almost never left my backpack. I am sure that most landscape photographers will know what a “circular polarizer” is. That “spinning” filter thing that magically boosts the contrast? The filter that makes the sky bluer than blue?
What is so special about this “Blue-N-Gold” Polarizer that has became a part of my photography staple? You might know that “normal” polarizers will increase color saturation and reduce reflections… But how about having one that can turn your skies and waters into gold?
I believe some newbies might think – I can do the same with a piece of colored filter. Well, sadly no. There is a world of difference between polarizers and a cheap piece of colored plastic. I am not going to start a long lesson here on how things work.
But in the layman terms, cheap color filters will only give you a color cast and reduce the optical quality. A good unique polarizer will give you a lot more and boost the contrast. Below are a few photos that I have taken with the Singh-Ray. You decide for yourself if a cheap piece of plastic is going to reproduce those results.
Now for a few “sans blue-gold filter” shots :
Quick note. For those who are curious, these are taken with my trusty Nikon D800E and either Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 or Nikkor 16-35mm f/4 lens.
When I first did some research on the Singh-Ray, I stumbled on another similar filter – The Cokin Blue / Yellow Polarizer. I did not buy the Cokin polarizer, so I am not going to do an apple orange comparison here. But rather, I shall touch on why I chose the Singh-Ray in the end.
Well, the price for Singh-Ray is $240, and the Cokin is at $180 (based on a 77mm filter). I was tempted to go for the much cheaper Cokin at first… But after some research, I read many reviews that the Cokin vignettes very badly on 77mm lens, even tough it is marked suitable on 77mm lens.
What more, I am using a full frame Nikon… pretty sure the Cokin will not live up to my expectations. So the choice was clear for me. Even though Singh-Ray is pricier, they do have a good history of producing excellent filters.
I am pretty impressed when I first ripped the packaging apart. Most filters come with cheap plastic cases, but not with Singh-Ray. It came with a leather carrying pouch.
The ring is made of metal and not plastic. The thick piece of glass also seems pretty sturdy and impressive. Nothing about this filter feels like cheap material. That however, as with all circular polarizers, the Singh-Ray did not have a front filter thread. Plus, the blue-gold filter comes at 1.1 cm thick.
EDIT : It seems that Singh-Ray now has a “thin profile”, but it comes with an extra price. Shouldn’t less material be cheaper?
TAKING PHOTOS WITH THE BLUE-GOLD
My experience with the blue-gold has been kind of… clunky. This is one filter that is not “easy to use” for sure. It has no front filter thread, and it is one thick filter. To avoid heavy vignetting, I have to remove my UV filter before putting on the blue-gold… and it still vignettes on my Nikon D800E + 16-35mm. I really do not recommend any filter stacking as this will cause more vignetting.
The next pain point comes when I want to use graduated ND filters to balance out the exposure. It has no front filter threads, and so very often, I find myself manually holding a piece of GND in front. Now imagine doing that for a long exposure. 🙁
The last thing to note about shooting with the blue-gold is that, it really messes up the white balance. Do not even attempt to shoot in auto white balance when the blue-gold is attached. You will probably end up with oddly white balanced images. So in most times, I just fix my white balance to “sunrise / sunset” and let the camera do the rest.
Till date, the Singh-Ray has never has never caused any ghosting, flaring nor gross chromatic aberration. Overall, the filter produces very punchy colors and contrast.
If there is anything bad to say about the optics, it has to be the vignetting. It can be fixed in Photoshop, but it is just a pain to be doing this with all the photos. The slim profile should suffer less vignetting, if you don’t mind paying that extra dollars.
This is definitely not a filter that you will want to keep attached to your lens for conventional use. But when the correct elements are aligned :
- Sunrise or Sunet
Bam! The blue-gold works it’s magic well. Despite the clumsiness and all these “quirks” that the blue-gold suffer from, this is still one of the best filters that I have used. Or rather, I have found no other filters in the world that can replace this one.
The blue-gold may only work for certain compositions, but I personally love the contrast and color tones that it produces. Definitely something worth keeping in the bag for a landscape photographer.
Whether you share the same sentiments, I do not know. But as for me, the blue-gold is not going to leave my backpack. I do hope this review has given you some good considerations for this filter. Good luck, and happy shooting!
- Excellent optics, excellent build quality.
- A unique filter.
- Produces punchy images with beautiful tones.
- Comes with a leather filter pouch.
- Not a thin filter… it is not recommended to stack any other filters on top of this one. There are no front filter threads to stack either way.
- Vignetting on a full-frame with wide angle lens.
- Produces overly strong colors at times.
- Rather expensive filter.