Jump to content

Soft FX or Mitchell Diffusion?

Recommended Posts

Hey everyone! First time poster and relatively new member to the boards. Was trying to rack my brain around on this and figured it'd be worth a shot asking here.


I'm preparing to direct/shoot a music video next weekend, and I need some advice on choosing a diffusion/beauty filter set. Plan is to shoot on the Alexa with a K-35 25-120mm Macro Zoom (as well as a 14mm Canon Optex if we really need the width). Utilizing HMIs and some Astras for the lighting package.


I wanted to give the video an older film feel to the image, which I'm aiming to do via the lenses and using harder lighting via the larger HMIs. I also wanted to use some beauty/diffusion filters for the last touch, since I'm a big fan of in camera filtration as opposed to post.


I'm currently torn between two choices, either the Soft FX series or the Mitchell Diffusion series.


Now there are a TON of videos online which help show the effects of Soft FX, and to be frank it seems like a great choice for flattering the talent, while still mainting some sharpness (not to mention they don't seem to go super crazy with the halation around sources in frame). But since I wanted to give an older feel to this video, I thought about maybe going with some older vintage filters. This led me to learning about the Mitchell Diffusion series (Strengths A-E). I like the idea of using older diffusion filters, but I'm worried because for the life of me I cannot find any relevant info online about them, save for a really unsatisfactory test on Vimeo.


I emailed Stan at the Filter Gallery here in NYC about it, and he mentioned that Soft FX has oval shaped lenslets, while the Mitchell series have a ripple effect.


Has anyone ever used the Mitchell diffusion before? I'd love to hear some first had experiences with them, or if possible see something shot with them. Even some screen grabs will do. I'm going on Wednesday to check them out in person but I wanted to see if anyone here had any relevant info to share.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Premium Member

I haven't used Mitchells since 1993 but my impression was that they just blurred focus a little, so not particularly glamorous. Supposedly when they switched manufacturers some decades ago, they didn't copy the design exactly and the filter did more just throwing the focus off slightly than true diffusion, which is the blending of a blurred image over a sharp image, which is why most diffusion filters have clear areas and then something that blurs the focus in that area like a dimple in the glass.


If you just want softening, a much better design over the Mitchell is the Tiffen Black Diffusion-FX, designed by the same person who earlier created the Soft-FX, Ira Tiffen.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have a Mitchell A diffusion filter made in the late 50's or early 60's. It's a very subtle effect that is not "misty" at all, and doesn't feel too unfocused. I don't know where one would find such an old filter in good condition nowadays though. For a deeper effect, I'm counting on post production these days.


I should check out the Tiffen Black Diffusion-FX though. Thanks David for the suggestion!

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you both for your insight! I'll do some more research on the pros/cons of Soft FX and Black Diffusion FX. I'm really excited for the shoot and being able to get this look as close in camera as possible. I'll be sure to post some screencaps early next week with results!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Create New...