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Low Con Filters


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#1 Albion Hockney

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Posted 30 March 2016 - 12:06 PM

I have been using BPM 1/8 and 1/4 a lot to add a little softness to the digital images from the new cameras - but I have been curious to try Low Con filters as I have heard they might look a little more organic from a few shooters.

 

Was curious if the strengths are similar from BPM to Low Con or if you need stronger Low Cons? IE what Low Con is comparable to 1/4 and 1/8 BPM


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#2 Stuart Brereton

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Posted 30 March 2016 - 12:21 PM

Well, first you'd have to define 'organic'. It's one of those terms that people throw around without it having a clearly defined meaning in this context.

 

Lo-Cons work by lifting the shadow areas of the frame to reduce the overall contrast. They are not true diffusion filters, but the loss of contrast does create a 'softer' image.


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#3 Albion Hockney

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Posted 30 March 2016 - 12:27 PM

Just asking what comparable strengths are, thanks!


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#4 Justin Westfall

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Posted 30 March 2016 - 02:22 PM

Just asking what comparable strengths are, thanks!

I've worked for a DP who often used a 1/4 Low Con on his Epic, in fact he told me that there is a low con in front of the Alexa sensor (part of the OLPF I would assume) and it helps to get some of the creaminess that the Arri's have.  Not sure if that is at all true, but I have heard other people say that, read it on other forums as well.


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#5 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 30 March 2016 - 03:19 PM

I think the intent is that the low-cons reduce contrast without creating such noticeable highlight glow. At some point that's impossible, because it's a diffusion filter at some level, but it's designed to create a diffusion so large in radius that it effectively just fogs the whole frame. In my view, they're quite effective.

 

I did some basic shots comparing a few filter types here.

 

P


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#6 Stuart Brereton

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Posted 30 March 2016 - 03:30 PM

Just asking what comparable strengths are, thanks!

 

They are different filters, used for different purposes. What are you trying to compare? Halation, Loss of fine detail, contrast?


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#7 Albion Hockney

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Posted 30 March 2016 - 04:59 PM

...the strength - I understand it is subjective and there are a lot of variables at play - but they do have similar properties and in a broad way the amount the image appears filtered can be compared.

 

yea phil, that is the reason they seem to be more "organic" I think... its less of a bloom around light sources and more just an overall base level of fog.

 

Finally was able to find some tests online - the only good comparison I saw was from Schneider and the strengths seemed comparable to BPM - that said a test of Tiffen BPM vs Low Con in stronger strengths showed a BPM 1/2 to be not that far off from a Low Con 1 in the base fog level so I'm still guessing a bit.

 

My guess is 1/4 Tiffen Low con is probably close to Tiffen 1/8 BPM and since the highlights won't bloom as much you can get away with a little stronger strength.


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#8 aapo lettinen

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Posted 30 March 2016 - 05:33 PM

they lift the shadow areas and like the mist filters, contaminate the shadows with highlight color when they spread light across the frame. I use promists for halation effect quite a lot but very rarely low cons for anything because of the higher shadow contamination compared to low halation. I use double fogs however from time to time


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#9 Stuart Brereton

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Posted 30 March 2016 - 09:27 PM

...the strength - I understand it is subjective and there are a lot of variables at play - but they do have similar properties and in a broad way the amount the image appears filtered can be compared.

 

 

 

Albion, Low-Cons deliberately lift the shadow areas of the frame in order to reduce contrast. This is kind of the opposite of what Black Promists do, as the whole point of the black dots is so that shadow densities are retained, just as they are with Black Diffusion FX filters

 

If you can describe which qualities of the two types of filters you are trying to compare, you might get better answers.

 

Is it halation that you're interested in, or softening of fine detail?


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#10 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 31 March 2016 - 01:39 AM

The degrees of strength between filters in a series is not all that scientific, it's sort of an eyeball thing on the part of the filter designer, so it is very hard to compare strengths between different filters, especially a 1960's (or earlier) filter like a Tiffen Low-Con to an 1980's filter like a Tiffen Black ProMist.

 

The differences between the old pre-1970's LowCons, Fogs, and Double Fogs was mainly in the mist particles that caused halation -- the Low-Cons use a much finer grade of particles so that the contrast loss is spread out more through the filter rather than localized around a light source, though a Low-Con is similar to a Fog, just that Fogs are, well, foggier.  "Bound for Glory", for example, used Low-Cons and Fogs in different scenes, depending on how much glowing around lights Haskell Wexler wanted to get.

 

Double Fogs are not actually twice as heavy as Fogs, but are a cross between a Low-Con and a Fog.

 

Then after 1980, Tiffen made a filter where the particles were so fine that the haze created was so even that there was no localized glow around lights -- they called these Ultra-Cons.

 

Now Schneider makes a Low-Con but it may be closer to Tiffen's Ultra-Con, I'm not sure.

 

The older design of Tiffen's Low-Cons and Fogs has some minor problems, there aren't enough clear areas between the particles for a sharp image to pass through so the filters do cause a little loss of sharpness, some tiny amount of blurriness.  More so with Fogs.  ProMists, from the 1980's, seemed to solve that particular problem though they are designed to soften detail as well as create halation around lights, but you don't get that blurred quality. But it's pretty subtle with those old filters and some of the loss of sharpness is just due to loss of contrast.

 

If what you are after is an "organic" quality, well, that's fairly subjective and is something you'll have to test and judge yourself -- no one designs a filter to be more "organic".


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#11 Albion Hockney

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Posted 31 March 2016 - 06:19 PM

Thanks for the replies - just going to run a camera test.


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#12 Adam Frisch FSF

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Posted 11 April 2016 - 11:57 AM

Used Low Cons a lot in my days. They have a certain look. I prefer Ultra Cons these days, as they don't scatter as much. Watch out when you get direct sun onto Low Cons - they milk out completely. They're not well suited for shooting into low sun and backlit situations.

 

But I would say that any camera that doesn't shoot raw, they're a must. Always used them on 5D's, Sony A7's, C300's etc where there's way too much contrast "baked" into the frame.

 

Here's an old test film I shot for a friend director many years ago on the little tiny Sony Nex 5. I had a no 3 Ultra Con on the lens and Zeiss Standards. The reason it looks surprisingly 'Red or Alexa-like', is the Ultra Con in my opinion. That flattens the contrast out to where you get more dynamic range, so you can grade it better in post. 

 

https://vimeo.com/74776832


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