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Warm Black Diffusion FX/Warm Soft FX/Gold Diffusion FX


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#1 Christopher Purdy

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Posted 27 January 2016 - 10:59 PM

Can anyone explain the difference between these three types of Tiffen diffusion filters?

 

Warm Black Diffusion FX

Warm Soft FX

Gold Diffusion FX

 

I'm a really big fan of the Black Diffusion FX, I've used them before to add a subtle filmlike bloom to highlights, but I'd like to try something that adds a little warmth to the image as well.

 

Of all the aesthetic qualities of film emulsion, the hardest one to recreate digitally is the subtle warm glow in the highlights. I think it's more common when using an 85 filter or windows gelled 85, but I notice it a lot when a practical is in the shot, or the sun is creating a specular pool off of something.

 

It's one of the telltale signs that something was actually shot on film rather than digital with a film emulation lut. I expect it has something to do with the red layer being softer and really bright spots reflecting off of the rem-jet backing, but due to the nature of digital sensors, this phenomenon is nearly impossible to reproduce. Somehow, Arri got really close with the Alexa sensor, and I'm convinced that this is a subconscious reason why so many people prefer the look of that camera. Sony, not so much.

 

I'm kind of obsessed with this, and I've narrowed my search down to these three filter types, or just shooting outside with an 85. I'm going to try and shoot tests, but I was wondering if anyone has experience with any of these. 


Edited by Christopher Purdy, 27 January 2016 - 11:01 PM.

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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 28 January 2016 - 01:35 AM

If you are talking about that reddish halation around points of light, it would be hard for a filter to create that.  I have seen it sometimes with Cooke lenses though.

 

The Warm Black Diffusion-FX and the Warm Soft-FX both just add an 812 warming filter to the diffusion -- which is fine but you can easily add that amount of warmth in color-correction or white balance, there's no real need to lose a 1/3-stop from the 812 filter.  You can get the same effect, let's say, by shifting the kelvin on the Alexa by a couple hundred degrees, like using 3400K or 3700K instead of 3200K indoors under tungsten.  Or do it in post.

 

Soft-FX gives you a bit more halation around lights, Diffusion-FX is not really supposed to create halation, it was designed to be fairly invisible, just soften detail. Soft-FX has a slightly more misty quality.  It's an older filter design from the mid-1980's, I think the Black Diffusion-FX came about in the mid-1990's.  Ira Tiffen designed both of them.  The main problem with Soft-FX is mainly that the jumps between the #1/2, #1, and #2 are a bit too much, and the #2 is generally too heavy except for a dream sequence or a super romantic close-up.  But otherwise it is a lovely diffusion effect.

 

The Black Diffusion-FX was originally designed to be the ultimate diffusion filter, by which I mean a filter that only softened fine detail without making the picture look blurry, without losing contrast, and without halation.  It's sort of meant to be used when you don't actually want the shot to look diffused. That makes it good for projects where most shots are clean but occasionally you have to sneak some diffusion on close-ups that shouldn't look filtered.  The black dot patten is designed to hold back any loss of contrast from the diffusion.  It was eliminated in the Digital Diffusion-FX because on 2/3" HD cameras and smaller, the extra depth of field was bringing the black dot pattern into focus.

 

Now Gold Diffusion-FX is interesting because the warmth doesn't come from a warming filter element, I think it comes from replacing the black dots in the Black Diffusion-FX with Gold dots. I could be wrong and maybe it just has a golden warming filter overall added (you could tell which by looking at the filter up close to your eye).  But I'm fairly sure the warmth comes from the gold dot pattern.  This may give you something like what you are talking about in terms of the gold appearing more around the highlights, but since this filter isn't really designed to create much halation, you might not get the glow you want (though in truth film does not halate that much).

 

Stephen Murphy did an extensive filter test you can see on Vimeo, here is one of them:

 

If you want more glowing, Tiffen makes something called Black Satin which I believe is the Black Diffusion-FX combined with a light GlimmerGlass diffusion:

 

But I think the Gold Diffusion-FX might be the one for you.  Or the Black Satins if you want more halation.

 

The thing is that if you want to shift the highlights to be warmer independent of the shadows, that can be done in post color-correction (or just use cooler fill light, warmer key lights.)


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