SPREAD THE GOLD-BLUE POISON!?
Welcome to my Singh-Ray Gold-N-Blue Polarizer filter review. This is an interesting filter that I have used for years, and it turns water into a stream of gold.
But let me first address the “poisoning” part. 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 the filter called Singh-Ray Gold-N-Blue.
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.
Good filter, but on the expensive side.
An all-round mighty decent and interesting filter.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
WHAT IS SO SPECIAL ABOUT IT?
I have the Singh-Ray “Gold-N-Blue” Polarizer filter for a over a year now, and it has been in my backpack for every landscape shoot. So what is special about this filter that has become a part of my photography staple?
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?
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 gold-blue 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.
COMPETITION & ALTERNATIVES
While some people might start thinking that cheap pieces of colored yellow / blue plastics are good alternatives for the Singh-Ray, they is not. Really.
When I first did some research on the Singh-Ray, the only similar filter I could find was the Cokin Blue / Yellow Polarizer.
But in the end, I decided that the Cokin polarizer is not for me. I am not going to do an apple orange comparison here, but rather, touch on why I chose the Singh-Ray.
Well, for a start, the price for Singh-Ray is $240, and the Cokin is at $180 (based on a 77mm filter).
While I was tempted to go for the much cheaper Cokin at first, some online research turns out that the Cokin vignettes very badly on 77mm lens, even tough it is marked suitable for 77mm lens. Plus, the yellow / blue really just don’t look as good as the Singh-Ray (at least for me).
So the choice was clear for me. Even though the Singh-Ray is pricier, they do have a good history of producing excellent filters.
BUILD & QUALITY
So I have decided on the much pricier filter, but just how well built is it, and how well does it perform?
Well, since it has not left my backpack for a long time, you can call this a quality filter.
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 gold-blue 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?
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 – Which I have come to like, but hate at times. 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.
TAKING PHOTOS WITH THE GOLD-BLUE
My experience with the gold-blue has been kind of… clunky. This is one filter that is not “easy to use” for sure.
It does not have front filter threads, and it is one thick filter.
To avoid heavy vignetting, I have to remove my UV filter before putting on the gold-blue… 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. Since it does not have front filter threads, I find myself manually holding a piece of GND in front very often. Now imagine doing that for a long exposure. 🙁
The last thing to note about shooting with the gold-blue is that, it really messes up the white balance. Do not even attempt to shoot in auto white balance when the gold-blue 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.
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 – clouds, water, and sun.
Bam! The gold-blue works it’s magic well.
Despite the clumsiness and all these “quirks” that the gold-blue 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 gold-blue 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 gold-blue 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.