Hoya Circular Polarizers: Pro1 v HD

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Hoya has made a big splash with their new HD circular filters, if just for the list price alone (as high as $300).  Hoya claims the following:

  • 25% higher light transmission than standard film filters (same film used in hi-def LCDs)
  • 4X the breakage strength
  • 8 layer anti-reflective multi-coating with 99.35% light transmission in the visible spectrum (400nm to 700nm)
  • waterproof
  • scratch-resistant
  • stain-resistant

When I saw it in person at PhotoPlus Expo last year, I could not believe that it was really a polarizer.  Take a look at the below image.

Side-by-Side, Hoya's HD Circular Polarizer and Pro1 Circular Polarizer

Side-by-Side, Hoya's HD Circular Polarizer and Pro1 Circular Polarizer

How can something that light be an effective polarizer?  I decided to put them to the test.  The below images show the same clouds only a few minutes apart with my 40D & 85mm L f/1.2 lens, tripod mounted.


The polarizing effect between the Pro1 and the HD is virtually the same.  The BIG difference between the filters was in the light transmission.  I was able to get more than 1-stop using the HD filter! In low-light situations, that extra light can be very helpful.  But, in bright light situations, you may want the extra filtering power of the Pro1.

EDITOR’S NOTE:  Price-controls on Hoya’s new HD filters

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14 Replies to “Hoya Circular Polarizers: Pro1 v HD”

  1. Hoya Pro 1 – f/2.8 1/8000
    Hoya HD – f/2.2 1/8000

    This means, that the HD is darker than the Pro 1

  2. Hi at all,

    Did you use, for the comparison, a “Pro1” version or a “Pro1 Digital” version of polarizer?


  3. I think you meant 1/2-stop by going from F2.8 to F2.2, and not 2-stops. Other users of the Hoya HD have also experienced the 1/2-stop increase in light transmission compared to the Pro 1, but definitely not 2-stops.

  4. The whole concept of stops is thrown up in the air when digital camera makers added 1/2-stops and 1/3-stops. Better control of light means more subtle difference and a crazy amount of choices when added to a broader range of shutter speeds and ISO ratings. The illustrated example was not depicting a 2-stop difference, more a lousy day to get a companion photo. Several reviewers have claimed over a 1-stop difference when using the Hoya HD Circualr Polarizer (ex. Shutterbug, Ken Rockwell). Actual use would depend on the speed of the lens. But, rounding-up is a good thing 😉

  5. Well sorry, but I really don’t get this. “You were able to open the aperture to 2.2” – doesn’t this mean that you needed to open the aperture to 2.2, to get the same amount of light? Or put another way, the Pro1 got the same amount of light with a smaller aperture?

  6. Polarizers block light. There is no way of getting around that. The issue here is how much light is blocked by the Pro1 and the HD filters. The HD filter blocks less light which can mean the difference between using a polarizer or not under low-light or hand-held circumstances. Also, If you are trying to create a very shallow depth of field by using a wide aperture, the HD filter will allow you to go wider (in this example 2.2) than you can with the Pro1 filter (in this example 2.8). I have not recreated this test using the Canon 7D, but I expect similar results.

    After using the HD filter for over a year, I find it to be more neutral in color than the Pro1. I feel the Pro1 adds a slightly muddy cool gray cast to the images. I am very happy with the HD filter.

  7. Why aren’t you publishing my comment I made yesterday on your miscalculation of fstops ? You are talking about 2 fstops but the difference between the 2 filters is 2/3 stops max ( f2.8 vs f2.2 ) according to your test and only 1/3 stop ( 25% ) according to Hoya .

    If you are not open to criticisms , please close your topic to opinions so that we don’t bother responding .

  8. First of all, this is MY blog and I am entitled to take a week off. Second, had you bothered to read the other comments, you would see that I already addressed this question. Take a look at Ken Rockwell’s discussion on the Hoya HD polarizers. Finally, send me the address of where you will be taking a vacation, so that I can harass you when you are taking some time off.

  9. HA! Loved the last comment! The way some people respond to some posts is to show how much more knowledge than the host. RELAX! You’d think that this thread was a matter of life and death. Hmmm. maybe it is… Maybe it is a government cover up
    Anyhow, thanks for your posts and comments. They fulfilled my needs 🙂

  10. i don’t understand this too
    same pictures but hd with f2.2 and pro with f2.8
    this only means that hd is darker!
    and if you ask me, i’d say pro1 on the pics above has noticeable less soft clouds

    still confused what to buy, hd or pro1 :-\

  11. The whole point of the comparison is that the HD filter which allows more light to enter the lens yet still provides a true polarizing effect. If you look at the two filters sitting on a solid white background, you can tell the HD filter is lighter than the Pro1. The Pro1 is a very dark filter which can be a problem when you do not have a significant amount of light (or a very wide aperture) but still want to pull out details in clouds or remove glare. The HD filter is perfect to remove reflections/glare from windows in street photography. I also have found the HD filter to be much more of a neutral filter while the Pro1 creates a very cool cast over the whole scene. Both the HD and the Pro1 are expensive filters (especially in a 77mm size). I have both filters, but only the HD has a permanent place in my camera bag.

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