We got five of the most popular filters from Tiffen, a company well known for their very popular video/photography filters, and we put them to the test. Read on for more info and samples on the Star, Warm-soft/fx, FLD, ultra contrast, and "85" filters, mounted on our Canon HV20 HD camera with a 52mm step-up ring.
The Ultra Contrast #3 filter is an important filter for many cases while shooting either digital or film. It is able to capture more detail on places where normally are not captured. It lower the contrast throughout the image evenly and that's why is one of the most important filters for the quest of the "film look". While some digital users will argue that changing contrast withing an editing application will do the job, we hold the opinion that when you apply the effect in the earliest of the 3 compression stages, the better the quality will be. The three stages are: analog capture, camera compression, editing application compression. Tiffen's Ultra Contrast filter delivers what it promises in a reasonable retail price.
One of my favorite "looks" from the '70 commercial ads and pictures is the "dreamy" one. This look can be achieved easily today by using the Tiffen Warm-Soft/FX filter. It is best used to capture portraits and skin in a glowing effect. However, I found that applying the same filter with flowers worked equally well. It brings a new soft-to-the-eyes look, a refreshing change from today's ultra-realistic digital photography and video.
This is one of most important filters an artist can use when the shooting environment varies too much. The FLD filter removes the unnatural color cast caused by fluorescent bulbs. It adds more red tones to compensate for the green and blue fluorescent colors. This filter is a great tool, but it also must be used with care because if used in places where it's not really needed, it will cast an also unnatural red tone.
This filter is a life saver for film shooters who can't control easily their white balance. It allows to correct tungsten lighting by producing a warming effect. In today's digital world correcting white balance is very easy and so this filter does not immediately scores home with digital users in particular, but it can still be used as a color effects filter. Nevertheless, the filter does what it promises and in our test, where we deliberately used our camera in tungsten mode, the filter auto-corrected the colors as it should have. Check the video below to view the colors the filter delivered to correct the tungsten colors.
This is by far the most breathtaking and impressive filter of all. Possibly not everyone's cup of tea, but for those who like impressive lights (especially if they are shooting music video clips), it is a must-have. It extrapolates the light from its source and creates "stars" effects all over the picture. Even better, the filter sports a rotating control where it makes these stars to rotate in the picture allowing for more control on your picture and more impressive effects on your video. If you are shooting at night, get this filter to add a more dramatic effect to your work.
Check the YouTube video we uploaded to showcase the effect:
Download here (right click and "save as") our 720p test video (30 MB, in .wmv format) with and without the filters tested.