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William Wright

Diffusion Filter advicee

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Hi all,

 

Firstly, full disclosure: the question I am looking for advice on relates to still, rather than moving image. If this is is inappropriate please feel free to delete this thread and my account from the site.

 

The reason I am posting here though is I am looking for advice on filters which seem to predominantly be used in film by Tiffen and Schneider, rather than photography. Screw in versions for dslrs etc are available (of black pro mist, soft fx, hollywood black magic filters etc) but all my local hire places stock only the versions used for video equipment, and enquiries on photo site forums have largely drawn a blank. The most useful information I've found online has been gleaned from this site.

 

Basically I am looking for some kind of diffusion filter that would give an 'glamourous' effect similar to 70s instamatic cameras and polaroids. Good examples of this would be Antonio Lopez's instamatics and Andy Warhols polaroids - please feel free to put me right here, but it seems the slightly 'diffused'/soft quality comes from the combination of hard light which is diffused by a soft plastic lens.

 

I've been trying to do this with a Zeiss Softar I lens using a flash, which although is a great piece of glass, doesn't quite do the job (example here). Hard to put my finger on why, but perhaps it blows out the flash highlights a little too far while losing too many of the darker tones, but subject matter from the example aside, I can't quite see it producing the desired glamorous results. I'm also looking for a little more subtlety - I want the effect to be visible but not dominant enough to seem gimmicky and I find the softar a little too much in that regard.

 

Have also tried using plastic lenses but these suffered from a lack of control and loss of resolution.

 

I'm thinking a Black Mist or Hollywood Black Magic filter might be good for this but being unable to find somewhere to try varying strengths etc I don't want to spend loads of money without a little more insight!

 

If anyone is able to advise on this I would be most grateful! And if this post is appropriate for the forum, my apologies.

Edited by William Wright

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What kind of camera are you using? Have you tried old vintage lenses from the '60s and '70s like Nikkor AI, Pentax Takumar, etc? Try shooting at f/1.4 or f/2 with those and I think that will give you the effect you are looking for.

 

If you want to try diffusion filters, the Schneider Classic Softs probably look the most like old vintage lenses. The usual set is 1/8, 1/4, 1/2, 1, 2 with #2 being the heaviest effect. 1/8 is very subtle so maybe start with 1/2? The effect also depends on how big you're enlarging you're stills. The greater the enlargement, the more obvious the effect.

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What kind of camera are you using? Have you tried old vintage lenses from the '60s and '70s like Nikkor AI, Pentax Takumar, etc? Try shooting at f/1.4 or f/2 with those and I think that will give you the effect you are looking for.

 

If you want to try diffusion filters, the Schneider Classic Softs probably look the most like old vintage lenses. The usual set is 1/8, 1/4, 1/2, 1, 2 with #2 being the heaviest effect. 1/8 is very subtle so maybe start with 1/2? The effect also depends on how big you're enlarging you're stills. The greater the enlargement, the more obvious the effect.

 

Many thanks for your feedback - I have used some Bronica and Hasselblad lenses (which may be sharper than what you are referring to, and therefore not relevant to your point) but almost found them too 'good'/sharp in a way, even at quite open apertures. It's certainly something I will look into trying again though with other makes.

Edited by William Wright

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Instamatic cameras had very cheap, sometimes plastic lenses, which relied on a deep stop (f11-16) to have any semblance of sharpness. Using plastic lenses at wide stops would cause the lack of resolution that you've seen.

 

Vintage glass, wide open, as Satsuki suggests, might get you an effect you like, but using filters like Classic softs or White Promists would offer you a more calibrated approach.

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Instamatic cameras had very cheap, sometimes plastic lenses, which relied on a deep stop (f11-16) to have any semblance of sharpness. Using plastic lenses at wide stops would cause the lack of resolution that you've seen.

 

Vintage glass, wide open, as Satsuki suggests, might get you an effect you like, but using filters like Classic softs or White Promists would offer you a more calibrated approach.

 

Many thanks for this - would you recommend a white pro mist over a black promist? I was under the impression the blacks held contrast better but I could very well be mistaken

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Black Promists do maintain contrast better than the White version, but looking at the stills you supplied, it seems like the blacks were a little milky. Either way, there are many options.

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Black Promists do maintain contrast better than the White version, but looking at the stills you supplied, it seems like the blacks were a little milky. Either way, there are many options.

ok - thank you

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Not familiar with Bronica lenses, but I own some Hasselblad Zeiss glass. They are quite contrasty, probably too sharp and clean for the look you want. Looking carefully at the examples you posted, I'm not sure a diffusion filter is going to get you all the way there with the level of precision that you want.

 

I think the test shot that you posted with the Softar looks pretty good and is suggestive of the Polaroid look. That's very similar to what you would get with most diffusion filters, which is basically an overlay of a de-focused image over the sharp image. But if you want something closer to the real thing, then you have to factor in the softness of the film as well. I really think the look is mostly un-coated vintage optics + Polaroid film.

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My Bronica is not exactly soft, but it's not super crisp either - somewhere in the middle.

 

If you want cheap diffusion, throw a net on the rear element!

 

Go buy $0.97 ultra shear pantyhose, tape onto rear element, instant diffuse glow.

If you don't like that look, you can net the front. or both!

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