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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Gadget Bag: Special-Effects Camera Filters

Craft the image in-camera instead of wrestling with Photoshop

Labels: GearMore GearGadget Bag

This Article Features Photo Zoom

gadget bag
Hoya UV
Somewhere on one of your lenses or in a gadget bag pocket, you probably have at least one Hoya filter. One of the world’s largest manufacturers of optical glass, including glass used for camera lenses, eyeglasses and photographic filters, Hoya is best known for its lineup of extra-thin, Super Multi-Coated polarizers, UV and skylight filters. The company also manufactures an assortment of special-effects filters, including the one-of-a-kind Rainbow-Spot that uses 1,270 ultrafine parallel grooves per inch to collect and diffract each point source of light into a rainbow of color—even outdoors. The Rainbow-Spot is available in thread sizes 39mm through 95mm, and in Bay 60 for Hasselblad lenses.

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Heliopan Close-Up
Schneider Optics is a household name to the pros, and its special-effects filters are well known to major motion-picture studios because of their extremely high quality, outstanding performance and consistency from filter to filter. This consistency allows cinematographers to swap filters between cameras without varying the results. Schneider’s painstaking attention to production quality is evidenced in its line of Classic Soft filters. Designed to blend away small wrinkles and blemishes without diminishing overall sharpness, Classic Soft filters contain an array of precisely manufactured microlenses that are carefully arranged in a widely spaced pattern and sandwiched between two thin sheets of plano-parallel optical glass. The small percentage of light that passes directly through a microlens is slightly refracted, while the light passing in between the lenses is unaffected.

The result is a pleasing soft-focus effect without any clue that a soft-focus filter was used. Tiffen filters have been around for more than 70 years and have been a staple of pro still photographers and movie studios for almost as long. In addition to producing nearly every conceivable type and style of special-effects filter, the company also has one of the most interactive websites where you can preview effects. Check out the before-and-after story of Glimmerglass, Pro-Mist, Digital Diffusion, Smoque and other filters at the Tiffen website.

B+W (Schneider Optics)
(800) 228-1254

Cokin (OmegaSatter)
(410) 374-3250

Formatt (Bogen Imaging)
(201) 818-9500
Heliopan (HP Marketing Corp.)
(800) 282-9010

Hoya (THK Photo Products)
(800) 421-1141

Schneider Optics
(800) 228-1254

(631) 273-2500


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