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Diffusion Filters (Screw-in)
  • For the past few days I've been doing some research about Diffusion Filters having in mind to reduce the edge sharpening of the GH2 for the following reasons:

    I've read many forum threads discussing such filters from these following two brands:

    and I've come down to these four filters which seem to be the most interesting in order to achieve the 'look' I'm after:

    Now, the thing is that each one of these filters comes in difference strengths (usually from 1/8 to 2) and I couldn't find any good video example showing the comparison between those filters. I just found some still examples here

    I know that the best thing would be to rent these filters for a day or two and see for myself but, unfortunately, there's no rental houses near from where I live…

    So, does anyone here have hands-on experience with these filters? Or even better, does anyone have in his possession one or more of these filters and would be willing to do some kind of comparison test?

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated!!


    Ps: I forgot to mention that I'm talking about using a diffusion filter with a fast prime (like the nokton 25mm 0.95 or nokton 50mm 1.1) and not a Panasonic lens with electrical connectivity with the camera body

  • 27 Replies sorted by
  • I have an interest in reducing sharpness, possibly by using difussion filters. There was an interesting video I came across recently using an aliasing reduction modification

    I think this was done behind the lens.

    I have come across a couple of comparison clips looking at mist filters:


  • @matthere Thanks for the video links!^^

    I already saw the filter test on the Canon 5D II but I was thinking that the same filters would obviously give very different results on a GH2 as it seems to have more pronounced edge sharpening. Same for the Red as, while giving a sharp image, it doesn't seem to digitally sharpens the edges. Therefore, I'm guessing that the GH2 would need a diffusion filter combination of its own and, as far as I know, no such tests have already been done.

  • I like the look of black diffusion as well and after testing several options I decided on Tiffen Glimmerglass filters. I ended up liking them so much with the GH2/FD lens combination that I bought a full set for both A and B cameras. (A pretty hefty investment, so you better believe that I like the look).

    You can see a comparison of Glimmerglass and Black Magic here:

    Unfortunately, I don't have a sample to show but to my eye Black Promist looks horrible on a GH2/FD lens at most strengths and focal lengths. It used to be a go-to filter for me but I think the combo just looks bad. I would only use it now if I were intentionally trying to create a retro feel.

  • An interesting discussion is here:

    "If all you want to do is invisibly soften details without getting any traditional artifacts like halation around light sources and loss of contrast, then the Tiffen Black Diffusion-FX is the filter for you. It's very subtle, even as you go heavier. There is a pattern of Black dots that help to keep the contrast normal, and the pattern and shape of lenslets are very random and small."

    Also, here is a video of using the Black Diffusion filter on a patched GH1. The comment is "A Tiffen Black Diffusion FX3 lens filter tones down overly sharp edges to keep the bitrate within safe limits."

  • Another point about lens diffusion on the GH2. I would be extremely cautious about filters that cause visible halation because of the 8-bit banding/posterization problem. The GH2 doesn't typically resolve fine halation well and it ends up looking like a fat stroke around the object rather than a diffusion look. That's one of the reasons I prefer black diffusion for the GH2.

  • Another diffusion filter comparison (not on GH2 unfortunately):

  • @DouglasHorn Thanks for all the the infos! It seems that the Glimmerglass displays more glow in the highlights than the Black Diffusion. Have you noticed that yourself when using it with the GH2?

    @ChrisPeters I haven't seen those video tests. Thanks for that! In this test the effect of the FX3 seems to come out pretty strong. I'm guessing it would come out different on a hack gh2 though...

  • @eiji Thanks for starting this thread. It's generating some interesting responses. I too have been doing some research on this very idea, covering the same ground as you more or less. I wish I had something to add, other than I have been testing Driftwood's Quantum X v.2 setting, which appears to add a fair amount of fine dithering to the image which helps mask the edge sharpening. With the caveat that I have only tested the setting for a few days, I find it to be the best setting so far for reducing edge stutter with camera movement. As good as it is, I too would like to increase the organic look via diffusion.

  • @eiji I also think Black Diffusion FX at #3 is too strong. The most popular grade on Adorama is #1, I was thinking of starting there.

    Thanks for starting this thread.

  • Wuick test:

    It's a black diffusion fx3 with a nd and a polarizer. In this example the effect doesn't come out as strong as the example above and makes the picture quite flat. I actually like the result! I'm wondering what an fx1 would look like...

  • I have a Tiffen 1/2 Pro-Mist, could shoot some stuff with it for you to see. I got that one as I heard it was the most common diffusion used in motion pictures.

  • @Kount_Michula Just saw the panning shot you posted in the low gop thread. Looks great!! That Quantum X v2 setting plus a good diffusion filter would be a very nice combination!

    @Gabel Yes, that would be very nice if you could post some footage!!^^ Just some simple panning or anything with movement to see if the filter reduces the stutter.

  • I use 1/8 Black ProMist a lot, sometimes 1/4. I have used 1/4 White ProMist in the past, but only twice.

  • @Brian202020 Do you happen to have any footage shot with those filters? That'd be great!

    If we can collect as much video examples as possible in this thread that'd be a great help for anyone looking for a diffusion filter!

  • @ eiji - I haven't done a lot of comparison between the two beyond my initial look. (I compared a few at just a couple strengths, then bought one Glimmerglass filter to mess around with before expanding to a full set.) So I couldn't say anything specific about a comparison. I would say though that the GG looks best (to me) at low strengths where it is essentially invisible. I typically shoot at 1 and 3 and use the 5 very little. I wish Tiffen offered the 2 and 4 strength in a 77mm screw-in filter rather than just the 4x4 filters.

    Do be careful about any light hitting your lens when using the GG (or most black diffusion) it creates a strong contrast-reducing flare throughout the image.

  • @DouglasHorn Thanks a lot for your observations! Any chance you'd have some footage that show the effects of these Glimmerglass?

  • FilmTools is a place out in Burbank that supplies film equipment in LA. They had this to say about the Tiffen Black Pro-Mist:

    "When used with digital video cameras, the 1/8 through 1/2 helps reduce the sharpness normally associated with video and yields a 'film look' to the image. These filters are our best selling 'film-look' filters. Note- when shooting scenics and you are looking for that film-look, try the 1/8. Stronger strengths may yield a muddy look. As always, do as the pros do... Test, test, test."

    Here is a vimeo video I found testing the Black Pro Mist at 1/4 and 1/2...

  • Tiffen describes the Black Diffusion/FX this way, and notes that it's also used for giving video a "film look":

    "BLACK DIFFUSION/FX® - A unique optical construction that produces the most advanced diffuser effect ever developed by Tiffen. Creates a soft focus look that is hard to detect that a filter was even utilized. Unsurpassed features for people images in suppressing facial blemishes and wrinkles, while maintaining a dear, focused image. Gives a silky-smooth look to textured surfaces. Eliminates unwanted details without achieving a "dull" or "fuzzy" look. Slightly subdues highlights while producing only a bare minimum of light flare. The Black Diffusion FX offers a "Very Subtle" softening look even at its greatest #5 density. The lighter densities are often utilized to obtain the "Film Look" in video. Available in densities 1/8, 1/4, 1/2, 1-5. Light Loss: 1/3 f:stop"

    The Glimmerglass has a much more pronounced "filter" effect, according to Tiffen.

    EDIT: Pro Mists also appear to have a greater softening/halation effect than do the Black Diffusion series, according to the Tiffen literature.

  • Good example of the Black Pro Mist! In this video, blown highlights tend to glow... Not something everybody would want. As jrd noted, the Black Diffusion seems so far to be the best way to reduce edge sharpening without giving too much of a 'filtered' effect.

  • Here is a test I did with the Tiffen Black Pro Mist 1/8 Filter:

    Panasonic GH2

    NOSTALGIC -2, -2, -2, -2

    Vitaliy Kiselev PTOOL 3.64D

    Driftwood V4D Orion Dark Matter V3

    Marumi Variable Neutral Density Filter

    Harsh Los Angeles noon day sun.

    Conclusion: A subtle softening that is more apparent in the raw video than the Vimeo compressed stream.

  • I have the Tiffen Black Diffusion FX/3 and also the Soft FX/3. Both effects are pretty strong and visible. Using them with Canon FD 2.8/28mm and Nikkor 50mm 1.8 mostly and I'm still unsure whether I like it or not. It often results in a very dreamy look and is often kinda too blurry when recording people, especially in mid shots. It's kinda nice for close-ups though, for obvious reasons ;)

    I'll see if I can upload some clips later this weekend.

  • Here is another test of the Tiffen Black Pro-Mist 1/8 under controlled indoor lighting.

    I like the overall effect. Notice the halation around the flashlight.

  • @ChrisPeters Nice tests! Thanks for that! The effect is indeed very very subtle in your outdoor test, almost invisible to my eyes (maybe due to Vimeo compression as you mentioned it) But it becomes visible and quite pleasing in the indoor test. The halation around the light is actually pleasing.

    I've ordered a Black Diffusion FX#3 which should come soon. I'll try to do some tests and if the effect comes out too strong, I may also get an FX#1 and, maybe, a Black Pro-Mist 1/8 as the halation effect could help "softening" the highlights.

    Thanks again!

  • This is a test by Barry Green - "Filters tested include Tiffen's 1/2 Black ProMist, Soft FX/1, Warm Black Diffusion 1/4, 1/2 Black Diffusion, and Formatt SuperMist Black 1/2."

  • There's a great discussion about filters over at especially the comments by David Mullen ASC