on May 10, 2024

Polarizers are essential tools in photography, used to reduce reflections, enhance colors, and increase contrast. However, like all photographic equipment, they can deteriorate over time. This article will explore the impact of degradation on image quality how long it takes for Polarizers to deteriorate, why they degrade, how to prevent deterioration.

three different status polarizers

Left: New Polarizer (HTC), Center: New Polarizer, Deteriorated Polarizer


Impact of deteriorated Polarizer on Image Quality

Deteriorated polarizers can significantly affect image quality. The common issues include: 

  1. Color Shifts
    Degraded filters can cause unwanted color casts, affecting the overall color balance of the image. The image below shows the shift to red cast color due to the deteriorated polarizer.

  2. Reduced Sharpness
    Deterioration can cause a loss of sharpness, making images appear soft and out of focus.

  3. Increased Flare and Ghosting
    Damaged coatings can lead to increased flare and ghosting, especially in bright light conditions.

  4. Uneven Polarization
    Deterioration can lead to uneven polarization effects, resulting in inconsistent color saturation and contrast across the image.
Polarizer w/o w deterioration

Left: w/o filter, Center: w/new Polarizer, w/deteriorated Polarizer

How long do Polarizers take to deteriorate?

The lifespan of a polarizing filter can vary significantly based on its quality and usage conditions. High-quality filters can last for decades without noticeable degradation, while low-quality filters may show signs of wear much sooner. Factors such as exposure to harsh environmental conditions, frequent use, and improper storage can accelerate the degradation process.


Why do Polarizers deteriorate?

Polarizers deteriorate primarily due to their construction and the materials used. The deterioration can be caused by:


  1. Environmental Factors
    Exposure to moisture, heat, and UV radiation can break down the materials in the filter, leading to discoloration and reduced effectiveness.

  2. Physical Damage
    Scratches, impacts, and general wear and tear can damage the filter's surface, affecting its optical properties.

  3. Chemical Reactions
    Over time, the materials in the filter can react with environmental pollutants, leading to chemical degradation.

How to prevent deterioration

To extend the lifespan of your polarizing filter, consider the following preventive measures:


  1. Proper Storage
    Store filters in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and extreme temperatures. Use protective cases to prevent physical damage.

  2. Regular Cleaning
    Clean filters regularly with appropriate cleaning solutions and microfiber cloths to remove dust, dirt, and fingerprints. Avoid using harsh chemicals that can damage the filter's coating,

  3. Avoid Prolonged Exposure
    Limit the filter's exposure to harsh environmental conditions. When not in use, remove the filter from the lens and store it properly.

Plasma sputtering technology enhances the durability and longevity of polarizers compared to conventional polarizers.


  1. Durability
    Plasma sputtering creates a thin, uniform, and highly adherent coating on the polarizer. This coating is more resistant to environmental factors such as humidity, temperature fluctuations, and UV exposure, which are common causes of deterioration in conventional polarizers.

  2. Longevity
    Conventional polarizing films typically start degrading 3-4 years due to the breakdown of organic materials under prolonged exposure to light and heat. Plasma sputtering, on the other hand, uses inorganic materials that are more stable and less prone to such degradation, potentially extending the lifespan of the polarizer significantly.


In conclusion, while polarizing filters are invaluable tools for photographers, they are not immune to deterioration. By understanding the factors that contribute to their wear and taking steps to mitigate these effects, photographers can ensure their filters remain effective for as long as possible, maintaining the quality of their images.

Thank you for your attention!

Marumi Team