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Low Con vs. Ultra Con vs. VariCon.


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#1 Adam Frisch FSF

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Posted 03 May 2005 - 05:47 PM

I'm soon off shooting a commercial in Switzerland in the mountins. Day exterior, mainly.

Now, ideally I'd like to use the VariCon on this project, but I'm not sure I can get it in Zurich - it's not listed in the rental house's catalogue. So my option is to go with either regualr Low Con filters (which I'm familiar with) or the Ultra Con's. Post- or pre-flashing is not feasible economically and I have no experience with it and can not afford to test.

Baically, since it's daylight I'm probably going for a low speed stock like the 5245 or the new 100T, but I need to kick the contrast way down for my look. More or less full on.

What are my options and what exactly is the difference between Ultra Con's and regular Low Cons? Does one soften the frame more than the other? If I want to go quite extreme on my flashing can the contrast filters ever achieve the same lessening as the VariCon?

Thanks for the input.
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#2 drew_town

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Posted 03 May 2005 - 06:03 PM

Check these out:

Tiffen Filter Guide

Tiffen Contrast Filter Comparison

I have a Low Con 2, Low Con 4, & Ultra Con 3. I like the look of the Low Con 4 the best.
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#3 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 03 May 2005 - 11:07 PM

UltraCons are the closest thing to the flashed look; they produce a milkiness without softening detail or halating like LowCons. If you just want less contrast without a filtered look, they are the best bet. Just beware that they can flare out the image more, like when panning past a glare off of water or something.

An UltraCon 1 or 2 is usually best. The glass in an Arri VariCon is a light UltraCon, I believe.

Schneider now has something called a DigiCon, which is like an UltraCon with some black specs added to pull down bright details too. Designed for video cameras, but I don't see why they can't be used for film too.
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#4 Hamid Khozouie

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Posted 04 May 2005 - 01:59 AM

UltraCons are the closest thing to the flashed look; they produce a milkiness without softening detail or halating like LowCons.  If you just want less contrast without a filtered look, they are the best bet.  Just beware that they can flare out the image more, like when panning past a glare off of water or something.

An UltraCon 1 or 2 is usually best. The glass in an Arri VariCon is a light UltraCon, I believe.

Schneider now has something called a DigiCon, which is like an UltraCon with some black specs added to pull down bright details too.  Designed for video cameras, but I don't see why they can't be used for film too.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Hi MR Mullen can we say pulling is better than ultra contrast filter
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#5 drew_town

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Posted 04 May 2005 - 04:59 PM

Just to clarify, I use the Low Con filter on video cameras and like the effect it has on video. Since you're shooting film, I'd go with David's suggestion of an Ultra Con rather than the Low Con. Ultra Cons do have a "less filtered" look.
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#6 Adam Frisch FSF

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Posted 04 May 2005 - 06:29 PM

Thank you.

My only concern is that when I see examples on Tiffens website the UltraCon doesn't look as effective as the LowCon - the images from the UC look much more contrasty.

I guess I'll just order both and have a look on set.
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#7 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 04 May 2005 - 11:51 PM

If you want a stronger effect, then just use a higher UltraCon then, like a #4 or #5. They even make a super-heavy one called a Low-Light UltraCon for night work. Since an UltraCon reacts to the amount of ambient light hitting the glass, you don't want to over-protect it from ambient light.

Some people still prefer the slightly diffused, fog-filtered look that LowCons create than the flashed but sharp look of UltraCons.
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#8 Brian Wells

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Posted 05 May 2005 - 02:44 AM

I have a DigiCon 1,2 I picked up to use on a DVX100a to capture more shadow/highlight detail as the Schneider folks have purported they do. Haven't really had any play time much yet.

Looking to broaden my horizons. Sorry if this comes across as a "give me" type of post. I feel I've done as much of my reading as I can on my own and buy purchasing a couple of filters to see the effect..

Certainly there is application for these sorts of filters other than pulling more detail out of video's limited dynamic range.. Would be curious to hear about films that come to mind that may have used any of type of low contrast effect like the original poster described or any others that come to mind.

Thanks,
Brian Wells
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