Effects filters
Center Spot Filter: (all mfg.) A heavy diffusion filter with a clear circular center spot. Ideal for facial portraits or other situations where a clear central subject with a diffused, less distracting background is desired. Hoya's are a close up lens with a drilled out center.
Circular Polarizer: (all mfg.) A polarizer designed for cameras with "beam-splitting" metering systems and autofocus systems. These cameras use a beam splitting prism in the light path to direct the light to the meter. Beam splitters polarize light. If a conventional polarizing filter is added to the light path, the combination of two polarizers will give underexposure to the picture. Many cameras including most 35mm auto focus cameras require the use of a circular polarizer. See your camera instruction manual to see if your camera model is a type that requires a circular polarizer. Circular Polarizers are now also available from most mfg. with multi-coated surfaces or built in warming filtration.
Close up lens: (all mfg.) Single element diopter lenses enable focusing on subjects much closer than the standard lens allows. Great for detail photos of nature subjects and a wide range of situations. Available in several diopter strengths from .025 to 10+
Color Compensating Filter: (Tiffen, B+W, Hitech, Ambico, Optiflex) Used to compensate for deficiencies in the color quantity of light sources, deficiencies in film, reciprocity failure caused by long time exposures, etc. Available in primary colors- red, blue, and green and in secondary colors the most commonly used - cyan, yellow, magenta. Color Compensating Filters are available in different strengths and may be combined to achieve precise color rendition.
ND Gradual Filters: (all mfg.) Half ND-half clear, with a smooth transition no hard line. Creates deep blue skies. No landscape photographer should ever be without one. Gradual type filters also come in a wide choice of enhancing colors. Create brilliant sunsets with the burnt orange tone graduals, Tiffen calls theirs Sunrise ColorGrad. You can also selectively tone down bright areas with the Neutral Density. Available round Rotatable mounts for proper alignment with your image, in squares 3x3, 4x4 or rectangles 3x4, 67x84mm, 84x100mm, 84x165mm, 4x5 and larger.
Cross Screens: (Hoya, Heliopan, B+W,) also called star filters in 4, 6 and 8 point.
Diffuser: (Hoya, Cokin) Overall soft effect due to its irregularly uneven surface, effective in portrait photography.
Double Fog Effect Filter: (Tiffen) combines a soft fog with a heavy low contrast effect. This allows clearer detail than the standard fog filter, while maintaining a dense fog appearance. Available in several densities.
Dual Color: (Hoya) Two half colors together in one filter available in red/blue, yellow/pink and orange/green only in 49, 52, 55mm sizes.
Duto: (Hoya, B+W soft focus 1,2, Heliopan soft focus 0,1) Filters have fine concentric lines etched on the surface, The center is usually sharp, effective in portrait photography.
Enhancing (didymium) Filter: (Tiffen, Hoya, B+W, Hitech) Made of special didymium glass creates warm vibrant color by selectively improving saturation of reds and oranges, with a diminished effect on other colors. This one is made for Fall, but very useful thou out the year. Red things like, rock canyons, barns, flowers, SUNSETS, cars, all become interesting subjects.
Fluorescent Light Filters: (all mfg.) Color correction filters that give natural color renditions with daylight film, eliminating the blue green cast ordinarily resultant from shooting color films under average fluorescent lighting without a flash. Useful for cityscapes at night. From only Tiffen FL-B Filter: For use with indoor type B film.
Fog Effect Filter: (all mfg.) Creates or enhances the effect of a natural fog. Fog filters cause highlights to flare and "mist" or fog. An even mist density is produced throughout the image. Available in several densities. Now being sold by several companies as soft focus "mist" filters.
Low Contrast Filter, Ultracontrast: (Tiffen) Consists of a special material evenly distributed between two laminated layers of glass causing light to spread from highlighted areas to the shadow areas. Lower contrast, mutes colors, white areas remain, and blacks become lighter. Allows more detail in dense shadow areas. Ideal for slide duplication work. Available in several densities.
Multi-Image Lenses: (Hoya, Cokin, B+W, Heliopan, Ambico) Multi-faceted polished optical glass (except Cokin and Ambico) lens that produces multiple images of your subject all in one picture. Varying depth-of-field can produce different effects. Available in several multi-image patterns.
Neutral Density Filters: (all mfg.) Used to reduce the amount of light reaching the film with no selective absorption of colors. Available in several densities. The classic waterfall filter used to slow down the speed to create the satin look on the water.
Polarizer Filter: (all mfg.) Reduced glare and reflections, saturates colors and darkens blue sky. Reduces reflections when photographing water or through glass windows. The polarizer can be rotated to determine the amount of reflection to be removed. When photographing scenics, rotate the polarizer to change blue-sky densities from light to dark blue. Creates a dramatic contrast between blue skies and white clouds. Also available in warm versions.
Sepia Tone Filter: (Tiffen, Cokin, Ambico) Creates a warm brown tone and offers a "turn of the century" look to your image. Sepia filters do allow some unwanted colors to pass so monochromatic scenes are recommended.
Softnet Black Filter: (Tiffen) Net material laminated between optical clear glass. Creates a soft diffusion effect while causing no halation from highlights. Dark areas remain dark. Available in several densities 1, 2, 3 & 4.
Softnet White Filter: (Tiffen) Net material laminated between optical clear glass. Creates a soft diffusion effect while adding a misty look. Produces halation from highlights; dark areas appear less dense. Available in several densities 1, 2, 3 & 4.
Softner A, B: (Hoya) Randomly arranged minute lens, shaped like drops of water on the surface of the acrylic filter. Creates a picture with a clear focus and soft gradation. No change of the degree of softness with f/stop changes. Softners can be used together to increase the soft effect.
Soft Contrast Filters: (Tiffen) Contrast is reduced while allowing black areas to stay black; also produces softer, less intense colors. Available in several densities. Also called mist filters.
Soft/FX TM Filter: (Tiffen) Used in portraits to retain overall image clarity while softening unwanted details. Will tone down wrinkles and skin blemishes, while leaving the eyes appearing sharp. Available in several densities. And in warm versions.
Softar I, II Ziess: (B+W, Heliopan) Special lenses with mini diffuser lenses randomly arranged Softars can be used at any f/stop without changing the degree of softness. Softars can be used together to increase the softness. Not available in 60E size.
Split Field: (all mfg.) A close up lens cut in half allowing close up focusing on one portion of the image while retaining clear focus on the background.
Star Effect Filter: (all mfg.) Produces a star effect from pinpoint light sources (sun reflections, citylights, holiday lights, etc.) Available in effects of 4 point, 6 point and 8 point stars. The best star filters are made of optical glass, with lines engraved on the surface, forming grid patterns.
IR Filters 87, R72, 89: (Hoya Tiffen, Heliopan, B+W) Transmits infrared with no visual transmission.
812 Filter: (Tiffen only) A warm tone filter ideal for enhancing colors in ordinary cool (bluish) lighting situations. Ideal for usage with electronic flash, outdoor shade and as an all around filter. This is the color tone Tiffen is using in their warm soft focus filters and polarizers.
Gradient filters
Many of our photographers do not want to change the natural beauty of the scene before them, yet they use filters. All films have a certain contrast range that they can capture, but when the sky is several F-stops brighter than the foreground, what can you do? Try using graduated ND filters. No outdoor photographer should be without a gradual filter. Every brand of filters that we sell offers gradual filters, but all are not equal, in quality vs. price. Graduated filters come in many sizes and types. Two of our most popular types are from Tiffen and Hitech. Both are true neutral density, with no color shift. We are very very happy to see a Multi-Coated gradual ND become available from Schneider Optics, but they do not fit in the Cokin Holder.
Tiffen's have been our first choice for grads comparing price and value. We still like them from the early 80s when they first became available in the P 85mm size. Tiffen calls them Colorgrads and they come both in round screw-in, glass P series (2mm thick) for the Cokin holders and glass 4x4 or 4x5 (2mm thick) for Lee/Calumet and Hitech holders. The round screw-in type filters are only available in three colors, blue, sunrise (amber tone) and only ND 0.6 (2 stops), 49mm-82mm. The 2-stop version is the best one to start with from any of the companies. The glass P series and 4x4, 4x5 inch types come in (9 different colors, 77k jpg) 2 grades of density in each color and ND in 1,2 and 3 stop types (ND .3, .6 and .9) Made in USA
Hitech filters are optical resin and are available in Cokin P size and 4x5. The Hitech ND filters come in 1,2,3 and 4 stop, both in a hard or soft edge. The Hitech hard edge is about the same as Tiffen's SE edge (standard edge). Hitech also offers a very high quality holder for P series and 4x5 type filters. Hitech is the only company which makes special mounting rings and holders for ultra wide angle lenses. Hitech also offers 13 pleasant colors of graduals, in grades #1, 2 and 3 in both sizes, 3 styles of two color grads, #1, 2 or 3 and really interesting combo ND grads with warming filters (81B or 81EF) built in with the ND grad 1,2 or 3 stops. Hitech also offers the combo of the two color grads with gradual ND added in, again 1,2 and 3 stops. In total 59 creative choices in grads. Filters are made in England.
All P series 85 series type gradual filters cover lenses up to 82mm, using different adapter rings with the same Cokin or Hitech filter holder. The filters are 1/2 graduated in ND or color. The best feature of the P series and larger rectangels, is the ability to slide the filter up and down in the filter holder. This gives you the most creative control over the scene you wish to graduate (control brightness). On lenses 67mm and smaller the regular, Tiffen at 100mm long and Hitech P series, 115mm long, work very well. Above 67 the 100mm long filters are still ok, you just, do not have as much slide-ability, example with a 77mm filter size you have 23mm above or below center to adjust the graduals edge. Tiffen does offer an PXL extra-long version for the P series holders at 165mm long.
New this year 3/99, Schneider 4x4 4x5.65 ND glass grads. Now available with MaxTran Multi Coatings or also called anti-reflective coatings. The filters are 4mm thick so they do not work in some brands of filter holders. But, the ablitiy to get this product, in Multi-coating is something to consider, if you are big on photograping sunsets. The coatings will make a difference. We have asked all our filter suppliers over the years to offer this product and until now no one has ever been able to get it right or felt it was worth the effort. well we are very happy to see this tool arrive in the market place.
We do not recommend the Cokin gradual NDs because they have never been neutral (sometimes referred to as clean) This off color effects clouds and the natural sky color. Thatís why Cokin calls them gray grads, If you are only shooting black and white film the Cokins are fine. But, noteworthy is the Cokin Sunset grads (197 or 198), because they are the only ones that the complete filter is washed over with the burnt orange color along with the gradual density on top. Both Tiffen and Hitech sun types are clear on the bottom. The Cokin colors are also a very good choice for the P series. Cokin's are made in France.
Hoya graduals only come in round sizes 49mm-58mm screw-in. Hoya's are made of optical resin like Cokin and Hitech. Like the round Tiffen's 1/2 color 1/2 clear they too have rotating mounts. Hoya's are a good value for colors and an affordable way to try out graduals. Made in Japan.
B+W graduals are made only from optical resin. Available in 2 types of gray #501 and #502 with screw-in brass rotating mounts, 49mm-82mm, The B+W have a very feathered edge, the full ND 1 stop or 2 stop effect is, in the top 1/3 of the filter. Other colors are available special order from Germany. One of our most popular color gradual beside the 502 is the 590 red gradual. Brands that we currently do not recommend and not because of quality. The Heliopan grads both in round and rectangular type filters. Heliopan rounds are the same as B+W, made from resin but with a much higher profile rotating ring, sometimes they can cause vignetting with wide angle lenses. Heliopan rectangular filters are excellent but very very expensive. The Heliopans also need a special filter mount and are made, using the same method as the Tiffens. A brand that, we do not sell, but is well known, is the Singh-Ray Galen Rowell grads. They are made of optical resin, NOT glass and expensive, The Hitech's are a much better value for the money.
Soft focus Filters, which one is the best?
This is one of the most often asked FAQ's. Currently we offer 85 different Soft Focus Filters, in most popular filter styles. A total of 1,190 filters in all, and we do not even sell every one that is available in the USA today, Our guess there is about 150 distinct types available. Well as you can see the answer, which is at best, a very hard one to answer. Soft focus filters are useful in, of course, classic portrait photography but don't over look their use in still life and scenic images. At The Filter Connection we start the answer, with a little knowledge of the different ways (methods), of breaking up the razor sharp images of today's lenses. The most common, to simplify, are weak fog filters. These groups of softeners are sometimes called mist, diffusion, diffuser or fog. The differences can be in strength of the fogging, also the warmth of the filter and even the material used to make the filter.
The next major type is the pattern type of soft focus filter. When you look at the filter very close up, a wave pattern or line pattern is visible on the surface of the filter or inside the glass sandwich, as the Tiffen's. This group differs by the count of the patterns and angles of the wave patterns. Most manufactures of filters in this group have given unique names to their products, like Tiffen's S/FX (Soft/FX). This group also has versions with warmth. Many of the filters in the above two groups do vary in the degree of softness also, by simple changes in the f/stop you use.
The last group consists of many very unique ways of disturbing the light images as the light passes to the final capture device. One of the worlds most famous, The Ziess Softar's is covered with tiny droplets that are lenses in themselves. A very popular type is the concentric ring softener; they look like water after you drop a stone into it. An example of this type is the B+W Soft Focus 1 and 2. Put also in this group is the mesh, gauze or net type of softeners. This net material comes in different colors; the most popular are the blacks and whites. An example of this type is Tiffen's Softnets
Soft Focus filters, as you know are effecting the light that transmits through your lens but other factors are in play also when using soft focus. The focal length of the lens, whether you are in a studio or outdoors also contributes to how the final results will be. The use of a lens hood is critical to the outcome of your images. Unlike any other type of filter, stray light, from clouds, windows and studio lights do effect the filters. Sometimes this effect is desired and will improve the final image.
As you can begin to see, with the many choices no one can be maybe considered the best. A starting point for your choice is to know someone who uses soft focus and to see the images that they have created. If you like the effect then, the softener they have used, is the one to start with. If you don't have the opportunity to see actual photographs, some of our best sellers are a good starting point. The popular ones have been Tiffen's Soft/FX series in grade 2 or 3. , Cokin's Diffusers 083 or 084, Hoya's diffuser, Ziess's Softar 1, Hoya' Softner A. Tiffen's Softnets, Tiffen' ProMIsts and B+W Soft Focus #1.
A couple of other points to consider is that the fog types usually lighten the dark colors and because of the overall diffusion with the stronger ones a dreamy effect is created. Tiffen' Black Mist filters do keep the color saturated, even to the extent of enriching the colors. The wave pattern softeners have less effect on the overall color saturation, except in parts of the photograph that has high contrast, like a black of a tux next to the white of a shirt. Generally the wave softeners keep the eyes of the person being photographed clearer. It is usually best to use a weaker softener to start out with, but this will always depend on the results you are looking for. The last groups of softeners vary in effect results by the unique methods they use to break up the light. The literature from the various filters manufactures help in seeing the various effects, but they all use different situations in their examples. Again the reason to look at actual photographs taken with the softeners.
Many of our photographers have created their own custom made softeners, by using common household materials to diffuse the images. The only problem with homemade softeners sometimes you will not be able to control the effect, each time you recreate the filter. An example of this is the classic nylon stocking stretched over the lens. If you have a UV or warming filter that has seen its better day, have some fun trying different materials put on the surface of the filter.
Warming filters are they all the same?
One of the most used filters by photographers is a warming filter; Warming filters are used for scenic, portrait, travel, and even to improve color rendition of different brands of lenses. As you might know they come in many varying strengths and tonal qualities. If you currently have a skylight filter on the front of your lens, you are using a warming filter already. Skylights made here in USA and Japan are very similar. Skylight as you might have noticed have a slight pink tone to them. Tiffen's are called Skylight 1A and the Hoya's are Skylight 1B's, the Hoya's are slightly warmer. The German Skylights are called KR 1.5s and generally are slightly warmer than the US and Japan counter parts. The German ones shift the kelvin tone of the light plus 200 degrees. This shift by the way, is the same as 81A's. Just as a note we have customers that prefer to leave 81A's on their lenses instead of the skylights.
The number one warming filter sold by us is the 81B. The 81 series come in strengths from 81 the weakest to 81EF the strongest .The 81s are straw toned and when used for outdoor photography they compensate for the excess blues found in shade, extend the morning light and overall enrich the tonal quality of your images. The 81A's and 81B's from all our filter companies are the same in strength and tonality. When referring to the literature from most of the filter companies the uses for 81A's are for indoor use with artificial light to warm it up to the standard Kelvin temperature of B type films. We have found that the 81s by our customers are used more outdoors than indoor. This is especially true of the 81B.
The German filter makers have offered the KR series as their warming group and you will find references to the comparable 81 filter strengths. When using the German warmers the Kelvin degree shift may be similar but the tonal quality is defiantly not the same. The German filters are more of a coral tone and not the straw tone of the 81 filter group. Many of our customers have found this tone to be much more pleasing and life like. So a B+W KR3 is not the same as an 81C. An American produced filter, which is in the same tonal range as the German warming filters, is Tiffen's 812 warming filter. The Tiffen 812 has been our second most popular warming filter and if there was a German filter like it. It would fall into their range as a KR2, which for years we wish they would make. The Tiffen 812 has about a 300 degree shift in warmth just like the 81B's. This coral tone warmth has also found its way into Tiffen's very popular warm soft focus filter line. If you have been a fan of Tiffen's 812 warming filter and wished for a stronger version try the German KR3.
The German KR3's are very useful on overcast days, high-altitude mountain photography and anywhere there is too much blue. The coral tone is especially very pleasing in portrait photography. We have found that the KR3 in combination with polarizers also create excellent results.
A less known, but also very pleasing warming filter is the 85C. The 85C's have more of amber tone and create the look of very early or late sunlight. Using 85C's will take some experimentation on your part, but for certain subjects the results again could be very nice.
When evaluating the different warming filters keep in mind that the brand of film, the brand of lens and the processor will effect the final results that you achieve. One way if you shoot slides to see the effect of the different warming filters is to look at your slides with the actual warming filters behind them. Using your lightbox put the warming filter on the box and then put the slide on top and you will get a pretty good idea of what the image would have been using the warming filter.

(c)1998 The Filter Connection