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Tiago Pimentel

Finding the right diffusion

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Hi guys,

 

I was looking for a diffusion filter (needs to be circular, 77mm) to use with new digital sensor cameras. My goal is to take the edge off the 4k sensors, making the overall image more creamy, but without halation on the highlights. Something that would also help with fine lines that sometimes create aliasing would be nice (I know OLPF would be the best choice for that particular issue, but maybe a diffusion filter would also help with that).

 

The only diffusion I've tried was the Hollywood Black Magic 1/4 which I liked a lot, but found them to halate a bit too much. I also found that, when shooting against a light source, it creates flares in the form of tiny spots (which I assume has something to do with the inner pattern of the glass in the filter).

 

Any ideas? I was thinking something that would ressemble the look Paul Thomas Anderson got from his Phantom Thread. I know he used Low Cons but then again, he was shooting film, so that's a whole different ball game. Maybe Tiffen Ultra Contrast? Digi Con seems to be pretty popular, but they don't make them circular, do they?

 

Thanks!

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Thanks David. I've never read a lot about them. These come in multiple strengths from what I understand? How do they differ? I read at BH site that the FX3 is used to create a soft glow like a dream sort of image.

Edited by Tiago Pimentel

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The lightest is the #1/2 (though there is a rarer #1/4 that they made later). It is pretty subtle, has the least halation of any diffusion filter. I just used it the other day to shoot a scene where the camera is passing along a row of light bulbs in the frame and our normal Hollywood Black Magic filter was creating a too-dramatic halation.

 

Technically an UltraCon filter is not true diffusion though anything that lowers contrast by scattering light will also soften a little.

 

Go to 7:44 here:

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OP...order a bunch from B&H. Test them out, send back what does not work.

 

 

Should we be advising someone to abuse the very liberal return policy, from a very good store that has provided low prices to our industry for decades.. ??

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@ David

 

Thanks! So for my purpose of creating a more creamy image, without the apparent loss of sharpness, what strength would you advize? Maybe the 1/2 for wide shots and 1 for close ups and medium shots?

 

@ Daniel

 

Yeah, not sure I'd be comfortable doing that. And anyway, it's not an option for me, as I am located in Europe and any order from the US would be taxed by customs... The other option would be renting, but in my country it's extremely hard to find a good selection of filters for rent

Edited by Tiago Pimentel

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Diffusion is designed to soften and Im not sure what you mean by creamy. It sounds like you want a lower contrast image not a softer image. Simplest thing would probably be to time the image for less contrast, closer to the log look. Otherwise you could try UltraCons or DigiCons.

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David, when I say creamy, I mean something that would take out that videoish sharpness of these new 4k sensors when combined with modern lenses. I like sharpness, just not that video enhanced kind some sensors have. That's the main reason I use a lot of vintage lenses with 4k cameras. They produce beautiful images without that sharpness overkill that tends to distract.

 

Those Tiffen you mentioned seem exactly what I need. What would be the difference from the black nets?

 

Thanks!

Edited by Tiago Pimentel

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What camera are you using.. have you checked the Detail /Aperture ..settings.. on many cameras, even detail/aperture off.. it seems to be adding something .. have you tried minus settings.. or doing it in post..?

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Black nets are good for diffusion too, you just have to deal with some issues with them. (1) It's hard to find a black net that is as light in strength as the lightest glass diffusion, (2) you have to avoid stopping down too much and seeing the net pattern, (3) you will get some sort of artifact around bright points of light, depending on the weave pattern, either a four point star or cross flare, or a rainbow flare in all directions, etc. (4) you have to avoid stray light hitting the net (if in front) and washing out the image.

 

Electronic sharpening is a signal processing effect post raw data, so make sure it's all dialed down to the level you want before you start adding diffusion to counteract it. You just may be seeing the effect of better resolution though, not increased edge enhancement. Also, contrast and sharpness are tied together so maybe you want less contrast, not less resolution.

 

Maybe you can find a Tiffen sales rep in Europe who will lend you the filters for testing.

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Black nets are good for diffusion too, you just have to deal with some issues with them. (1) It's hard to find a black net that is as light in strength as the lightest glass diffusion, (2) you have to avoid stopping down too much and seeing the net pattern, (3) you will get some sort of artifact around bright points of light, depending on the weave pattern, either a four point star or cross flare, or a rainbow flare in all directions, etc. (4) you have to avoid stray light hitting the net (if in front) and washing out the image.

 

Electronic sharpening is a signal processing effect post raw data, so make sure it's all dialed down to the level you want before you start adding diffusion to counteract it. You just may be seeing the effect of better resolution though, not increased edge enhancement. Also, contrast and sharpness are tied together so maybe you want less contrast, not less resolution.

 

Maybe you can find a Tiffen sales rep in Europe who will lend you the filters for testing.

 

Hi David,

 

sorry to bring this thread back again, but I was wondering what you think about the Tiffen LC vs UC to get this effect we're talking about. Red cameras and BMD cameras are fantastic pieces of gear, but I feel they need some help in the highlights and shadows roll off to achieve that creamy Alexa look. Especially in skin tones. Do you think the UltraContrast or Low contrast might help? If so, which strength would you choose from each one?

 

Thanks!

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Tiffen UltraCons or Schneider DigiCons might be better if you are just looking for lowered contrast rather than a filtered-looking shot. LowCons are more like Fog filters, they bloom and soften focus more than UltraCons do.

 

The other day I was playing around, trying to match the softness of the #1/4 Schneider Hollywood Black Magic (which is a #1/8 Black Frost + #1/4 HD Classic Soft) but with more blooming and put a #1/4 Black Frost with a #1/2 Tiffen Black Diffusion/FX and thought it had a nice creamy quality. Probably similar in effect to a Tiffen Black Satin filter. There are also new filters called Radient Softs which I havent tried yet.

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Thanks David! I don't mind halation. I actually like what it does to the highlights. But what I'm actually after is a filter that creates that nice rolloff to the highlights and the shadows, without making the image look filtered. I love Hollywood Blackmagic, but if you have a strong light source, the filter instantly gets all the protagonism :)

 

Between Ultracons, Digicons and Black Satin, what would you recommend? If I go with Ultracons, is the UC 3 too much for medium to close up shots?

 

Thanks!

Edited by Tiago Pimentel

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UltraCons or DigiCons. I dont know the strengths of the DigiCons and its been a decade since Ive used UltraCons but Id start with a #2.

Thanks David! Oddly, there is no stock of the Ultracon 2 for 77mm anywhere. I just called Tiffen and they told me they had to manufacture it. Is it too much to start with the UC 3? Maybe too strong of an effect

Edited by Tiago Pimentel

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