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Finding the right diffusion


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What would be an example of a good filter to create halation without diffusion in a wide angle (I always feel halation is a good way to hide the digital rolloff in highlights) and what would be a good filter that would do the opposite in a close up?

 

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2 hours ago, Tiago Pimentel said:

What would be an example of a good filter to create halation without diffusion in a wide angle (I always feel halation is a good way to hide the digital rolloff in highlights) and what would be a good filter that would do the opposite in a close up?

Diffusion with minimal halation/loss of contrast - Tiffen Black Diffusion FX. Just takes the edge off, very mild controlled halation with reddish fringe. Doesn’t lower contrast, so perfect for close ups. It’s like a very mild Soft FX. 

Exaggerated halation with minimal softening - Tiffen Pearlescent, Tiffen Glimmerglass, Schneider Radiant Soft. Personally, I don’t have a favorite yet. 

Older misty filters like Low Cons, Promists, BPM, Fog, and Double Fog tend to both soften and lower contrast. Lenslet filters like Classic Softs and Soft FX retain more contrast but have a more controlled halation ring around light sources, rather than a misty glow.

A lot of newer filters like Tiffen Black Satin and Schneider Hollywood Black Magic are combo filters. Which is convenient, but can be limiting. 

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3 hours ago, David Mullen ASC said:

Yes, ideally I'd carry the Hollywood Black Magic line, the Black Frost line, and the HD Classic Soft line to have the ultimate control -- I sort of do that now except that I carry a set of Black Diffusion/FX instead of HD Classic Soft.

I’ll bet Schneider would be happy to make you custom combo filters in your preferred grades if you went to them. I can already picture the ad in the back of American Cinematographer! 

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I think a 1/8 Black Frost is lighter than a 1/8 Pearlescent... For me, if you want halation with the least amount of softening, you have to use the lightest mist filter (1/8 White Frost, etc.) and more overexposure in the area you want to halate.

Black Diffusion/FX or Digital Diffusion/FX (which just has the black dots removed) are the most subtle softening with least halation, followed by something like a Radiant Soft or a Mitchell (I tend to avoid Mitchells because I think they just make things look blurred.) Followed by an HD Classic Soft, which does create a blurred halation, just not a misty halation.

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Wow ! Thank you to all for this great thread.  Super helpful.  And Alissa, excellent test.  Interesting to see the different responses of each lens.  I've been curious about the Smoque and Double Fog (in a different context than the Tiffen test we've all seen), and great to see you checked them out for us.

Again - I so much appreciate reading all these viewpoints & expertise. Thank you!

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I don't have any experience with tiffen black diffusion fx. What strength should I pick for a close up if the intent is to take the edge off and just make a face look good without loss of apparent sharpness (ie eyes look sharp)? And none of that halation that give the effect away. 

 

As for halation with minimal softnening for wide shots, maybe a Hollywood blackmagic is a good choice? 

 

Thanks 

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#1/2 Black Diffusion/FX was always the lightest they made, but these days, Tiffen has been making other versions/strengths but perhaps on special order.  The #1/2 is very light.

No, don't use the Schneider Hollywood Black Magic for halation but no softening, it's a combo filter of a #1/8 Black Frost (for halation) and whatever degree of HD Classic Soft you choose (for softening.) I'd just use the Black Frost or some similar mist filter.

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12 hours ago, Tiago Pimentel said:

I don't have any experience with tiffen black diffusion fx. What strength should I pick for a close up if the intent is to take the edge off and just make a face look good without loss of apparent sharpness (ie eyes look sharp)? And none of that halation that give the effect away.

I’d go with #1. I have both #1 and #1/2, and the difference is minimal. I mostly stick with #1 unless the lens looks a bit soft. You’ll get a very minimal reddish fringe on highlights, but no glowy halation.

 

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Here's an example of the fringe I'm talking about:

#1 BDFX, with a vintage Zeiss Contax 50mm f/1.4 wide open which is already quite soft, so the filter is exaggerating the lens's halation.

There is also an Iscorama 36 in the optical path, plus a diopter for the close up. You can see how the filter softens the wide more than the close up.

I probably would use a #1/2 for the wide if I had to do it again. *If you're not shooting with such a soft lens/aperture, #1 would do more of what you want it to do.

48999529086_7a544f0144_o.jpg

48561073652_b0b6fcacdc_o.jpg

Edited by Satsuki Murashige
*added info
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I believe this was a scene where I typically switch from the Hollywood Black Magic to a Black Diffusion/FX because of the bright background behind the actor. This was either the #1/2 or #1, I usually try both to gauge the softness. It was probably a #1 because I wasn't wide-open, but maybe it was a #1/2!

MMM3_diner1.jpg

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On 7/8/2020 at 9:59 PM, David Mullen ASC said:

I believe this was a scene where I typically switch from the Hollywood Black Magic to a Black Diffusion/FX because of the bright background behind the actor. This was either the #1/2 or #1, I usually try both to gauge the softness. It was probably a #1 because I wasn't wide-open, but maybe it was a #1/2!

MMM3_diner1.jpg

David, how would the Black Satin perform here? Closer to the black diff FX or the HBM? 

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I believe Black Satin is similar in idea to the Hollywood Black Magic -- it combines a mist filter (some mild form of GlimmerGlass I think) and Digital Diffusion/FX or Black Diffusion/FX for softening.  Since Diffusion/FX is a more subtle form of softening (less pronounced dimples in the glass compared to the HD Classic Soft used in Hollywood Black Magic) the effect is not quite the same, with Hollywood Black Magic you see two distant types of halation mixed together, the misty glow and a blurry edge glow.  With Black Satin, there is a misty glow and softening but not that secondary blurred edge around bright points.

Closer to Black Diffusion/FX would be Radiant Softs.

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David do you know what (if any) filters are used in netflix shows with a "modern" look such as Dark or Ozark? My feeling everytime I use a HBM or other diffusion filters with halation is that they immediately send me to a period piece or a very specific scene/mood.

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David, I feel that most modern sensors/lenses need some help to smooth a bit of the digital edge. I love my HBM 1/4 but it does call our attention to the highlights by halating (beautifully I must say). Maybe an Ultracon or a black diff fx would be interesting to try. Even though the Ultracon is not by definition a diffusion filter, I've read about some DPs using the UC2 to better match a Ursa mini to the Alexa. 

Edited by Tiago Pimentel
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11 minutes ago, Tiago Pimentel said:

I shot this with the HBM. David, the glowing effect on the HBM is fixed, right? It comes from the 1/8 Black Frost, so if I'd shot this using a lighter HBM, the glowing would still be the same, correct?

 

dde83de0ea0ffe7bb65d59d625e31d11.jpg

Most of that glow on a longer lens comes from the HD Classic Soft element of the HBM, not the 1/8 Black Frost element, the little dimples that soften the image create a blurred glow around bright areas and it gets exaggerated on longer lenses because the dimples get enlarged. It might be less strong on the 1/8 HBM. If you don’t want halation, try Black Diffusion/FX or Radiant Softs.

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