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Classic Soft vs. Soft f/x


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#1 Jon Rosenbloom

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Posted 11 January 2006 - 04:55 PM

Shooting some SD video next week, and I want to take the edge off the image. I asked for a set of Classic Soft filters, but the rental house has Soft F/X, or black Pro-Mists instead. Are the Classic Softs and Soft FXs just two companies' versions of the same thing? (The Tiffen website isn't much help.) I'm not trying to get any neat patterns from the practicals, just trying to mush up the background.

It was not my intention to annoy anyone w/ this question.

Thanks
J...
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#2 Dan Goulder

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Posted 11 January 2006 - 06:57 PM

It was not my intention to annoy anyone w/ this question.

Despite my severe annoyance ( :D ), I'll attempt to address your question. I assume you're referring to Tiffen soft/fx filters, which do impart a nice look to video. I'd recommend trying the #1 first. However, your reference to "mushing up" the background implies that you're looking for a sharp foreground with a shallow depth of field, which will likely be best established with camera placement close to your object of focus, while manually focusing on that object. If you then want to soften up the object of focus, you can try the soft filter.
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#3 Tomas Koolhaas

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Posted 11 January 2006 - 08:04 PM

Hi,
Yeah I agree, I think what you described is a shallow DOF (Depth of field) not diffusion filter affect.
But using slight diffusion filters on video is usually a good idea. The Black promist is the one I have used the most. It's affect is more apparent on hotter highlights than the rest of the image. Be careful with very wide lenses/adaptors, sometimes it is possible to get the actual texture of the filter in focus! it looks like a bunch of static black grain (not good!). I have used all the filters you described, they all have slightly different effects: The classic soft is almost like a old fashioned fog filter and is nice and glamorous, but can give you a milky image on the stronger increments (2 or above). The Soft FX is my least favourite of the three, I used it only in a test and didn't like it, it seemd to give everything an almost out of focus look. Another similar filter that I really liked is the Diffusion FX series (Tiffen I think) they come in Black and Gold, they are a bit similar to pro-mists but when I tested them side-by-side on 35mm the diffussion FX was less milky and gave a sharper image that still had a nice softness/glow in the highlights.
The best thing you could do is test them all at the same time and decide which one you prefer.
Cheers.
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#4 Jon Rosenbloom

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Posted 11 January 2006 - 10:58 PM

Yeah, I've learned to stay long w/ video, but I still want to fake some more shallowness of field. I've always used 1/8, or 1/4 BPM's, but I'm kind of bored w/ that method. Fortunately, Tamberelli Digital is being very helpful, so a test will be easy enough to arrange.
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#5 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 11 January 2006 - 11:40 PM

I like Soft-FX, except that the jumps between strengths are too far apart. #1/2 is too subtle and the #2 is too heavy.

Both Soft-FX and Classic Soft use a similar technique of "lenslets" to throw an out-of-focus image over an in-focus image (the clear areas of the filter.) The advantage of the Soft-FX design is that the pattern is irregular and so are the shapes of the lenslets, so there is less chance of the pattern coming into focus compared to Classic Softs, which have a grid pattern with larger lenslets, so the extra depth of field of video can sometimes cause the pattern to start to be obvious. Otherwise, they do similar things, with the Soft-FX creating more of an irregular fuzzy glow while the Classic Soft creating more of a double fuzzy edge. The Classic Soft also can create the effect of an out-of-focus "bubble" to appear around points of light.

The Tiffen Diffusion-FX was designed to eliminate the optical artifacts of diffusion like halation and the resulting loss of contrast; it sort of uses a pattern of kidney-shaped indents in the surface. Only problem for me is that I LIKE the artifacts of diffusion, so Diffusion-FX is a little boring to me. But if you simply want softening with no artifacts, then this is the best diffusion filter.

Schneider now makes a combo Classic Soft + Black Frost filter that in some ways, reminds me of the Soft-FX halation more.
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#6 Jon Rosenbloom

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Posted 12 January 2006 - 12:26 PM

G..Damn, that's informative. Thanks.
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