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Polarizer vs. Analyzer: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Updated on October 23, 2023
A polarizer selects a specific plane of light waves; an analyzer detects or measures light's polarization state.

Key Differences

A polarizer is a device or filter that only allows light waves vibrating in a specific plane to pass through. On the other hand, an analyzer is an optical component used to measure or detect the polarization state of light.
The polarizer's primary role is to produce light of a specific polarization from unpolarized light. In contrast, the analyzer's main function is to study or analyze the characteristics of light that has been polarized.
When using polarized light in experiments, a polarizer is generally the first optical element that transforms the unpolarized light into polarized light. An analyzer, however, comes after, allowing researchers to observe the effects or characteristics of the polarized light.
Polarizers can be found in various everyday applications, including sunglasses and camera filters, where they reduce glare and improve image clarity. Analyzers, on the other hand, are more commonly found in scientific instruments and specialized devices to determine the polarization properties of light.
While both the polarizer and analyzer interact with polarized light, their roles are distinct: the polarizer creates the polarized light, and the analyzer investigates or measures it.

Comparison Chart

Primary Function

Produces light of specific polarization
Measures or detects the polarization state of light

Position in Optical Systems

Usually comes first to polarize light
Follows to study the polarized light

Everyday Use

Found in sunglasses, camera filters
Used in scientific instruments

Role in Polarization

Transforms unpolarized light to polarized
Observes the effects of polarized light

Interaction with Light

Selects a specific plane of light waves
Detects or quantifies the polarization properties

Polarizer and Analyzer Definitions


A device that produces light of a specific polarization.
Photographers use a polarizer to reduce reflections.


A device that determines the polarization state of light.
The analyzer revealed the light's elliptical polarization.


A tool that restricts the vibrations of light waves to a single direction.
The polarizer ensured that only horizontally vibrating light waves passed through.


A component used in polarization studies to observe the effects of polarized light.
The analyzer helped visualize the impact of the magnetic field on the light.


A filter that allows light waves of a particular orientation to pass.
The polarizer on her sunglasses minimized the glare from the water.


An instrument that detects variations in light wave orientations.
The analyzer was essential in confirming the light's linear polarization.


An optical element that transforms unpolarized light into polarized light.
Scientists use a polarizer to study light's properties.


An optical tool that measures the properties of polarized light.
With the analyzer, the researcher could identify the rotation of the light's plane.


A component that improves clarity by blocking certain light waves.
Using a polarizer, the cinematographer captured a clearer shot of the sky.


A device that quantifies the characteristics of light after it's polarized.
Using an analyzer, they could measure the degree of light polarization.


To induce polarization in or impart polarity to.


To examine methodically by separating into parts and studying their interrelations.


How does a polarizer help reduce glare?

A polarizer blocks certain orientations of light waves, reducing reflections and glare.

Do polarizers and analyzers serve the same purpose?

No, while both interact with polarized light, a polarizer creates it and an analyzer measures or investigates it.

Is an analyzer always needed when using a polarizer?

No, an analyzer is not always needed, but it's essential when studying polarization properties.

How does a polarizer change the nature of light?

A polarizer restricts light vibrations to a specific direction, changing its polarization state.

Where are analyzers commonly used?

Analyzers are commonly used in scientific instruments and specialized devices.

Can a polarizer and analyzer be used in tandem?

Yes, in optical experiments, a polarizer is often followed by an analyzer to study light properties.

How does an analyzer interact with non-polarized light?

An analyzer will transmit non-polarized light without providing specific polarization information.

Is the use of an analyzer limited to optics?

While commonly used in optics, analyzers can also be part of other systems where wave properties are studied.

What does a polarizer do?

A polarizer produces light of a specific polarization from unpolarized light.

Can I find a polarizer in everyday objects?

Yes, polarizers are found in objects like sunglasses and camera filters.

What's the main function of an analyzer?

An analyzer's main function is to measure or detect the polarization state of light.

Can an analyzer adjust the polarization of light?

An analyzer doesn't adjust the light's polarization but measures or detects its state.

Do polarizers affect the intensity of light?

Yes, polarizers can reduce the light's intensity as they block certain orientations of light waves.

Why do sunglasses often contain polarizers?

Sunglasses contain polarizers to reduce glare from surfaces like water or roads.

What happens if I rotate an analyzer while observing polarized light?

Rotating an analyzer can change its alignment with the light's polarization, affecting its transmission and observation.

Does a polarizer only work with light?

While commonly associated with light, polarizers can also work with other electromagnetic waves.

Can an analyzer determine all types of light polarization?

A well-equipped analyzer can determine various polarization states, such as linear, circular, or elliptical.

Can I see the effects of a polarizer with the naked eye?

Yes, effects like reduced glare or enhanced colors can be observed with the naked eye.

Are polarizers used in photography?

Yes, photographers use polarizers to reduce reflections and enhance image clarity.

Are all polarizers identical in function?

While all polarizers polarize light, their efficiency, orientation, and wavelength range can vary.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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