DFX filter software


Tiffen has been manufacturing photographic filters and lens accessories for consumer and professional imaging for over 70 years. Now the company has developed Tiffen DFX, software that offers a range of filters for use with digital images. We believe this makes DFX unique; benefiting from a deep understanding of what glass filters actually do as well as generic and empirical knowledge of what cinematographers and photographers use and need – expressed in the film and photo industry’s terminology.

The DFX software has digital representations of our actual glass optical filters so, by applying them, you get an essence and pre-visualisation of specifically named, trademarked filters. The way the program is presented makes it easy to get to the presets you are looking for – provided you understand the terminology and names. This goes beyond the optical filters we manufacture by taking the ‘physical’ and putting into the ‘digital’. We are using terminology that refers to physical cinematography and photography and putting it into a software suite.

Once you understand how the presets are worked – defined by their headers – you find that each filter has a number of selectable presets that are set around the filter, according to what that filter does. For example, some filters such as ‘Cross Processing’ which are in the ‘Film Lab’ header, are very simply adjusted with a single sliding scale. But you can also go and work on printer points, affecting reds, greens and blues, as you would with film.

Another example is ‘Telecine’ where you can go through all the established ways of adjusting colour, gain and shadows and a whole variety of telecine controls. Every filter has its own set of presets that could number up to 10, and these are determined by what the filter actually does.

Besides building software filters that digitally match of their glass equivalents, DFX also offers spectral matches of lighting gels as colour layers. This can be used for pre-visualisation or altering the colour of a shot scene. There is also a whole range of colour temperature filters and many effects filters as well as graduated, polarising, enhancing filters. They are all locked in the header to which they relate. This helps users to find the filters they want. It’s very simple to learn; you are not building filters, as in some software packages, but going to filters. The software is intended to have all the required presets that you can go straight to, work with and manipulate.

There is a very wide range of over 2000 filters/ presets available within the full version of DFX software (about 500 in the essentials edition in a stand-alone version only). Even so the software can only do so much as it is limited by dealing with zeros and ones: a digital representation and not the physics of light. It does a good job up to a point but, before we get to that point, we should always try to make our image to the best possible quality we can. That means applying crafts and techniques. Filters are just one of the techniques used to manipulate our image to get what we want.

As I see it, the tasks break into two strands – interior and exterior lighting. We have very little control over exterior lighting so we have to use filters to control that light, as well as the camera’s iris. When filming, the shutter is usually set at a constant speed, so filters are predominantly used to change the light to maintain the continuity of look. The filters work directly on the light, not on a ‘zeros and ones’ representation that can never be changed, to help produce the required the quality and clarity of image acquisition. For example, if there are overblown whites there may be no data in that area and you cannot put the information back as, at this stage, it does not exist. However, if suitable ND (neutral density) or graduated optical filters were used, then the previously ‘blown’ picture areas would contain data (ie, detail). You have to use filters to control the light and put the data onto the image recording format be it CMOS chip or film stock. Whatever the acquisition format is you must make sure that the image hitting that format is well produced. Then you can use post production to best effect to get exactly what you want.

With interior lighting the use of filters is more about diffusers, and the difference they make is a bit subtler. Although the digital representations are relevant in the software they cannot take account of every acquisition format size, a third-inch, half inch, two-third inch, 16mm, 35mm, super 35mm. Every filter strength has a different effect on the lens depending on its focal length relative to the image size. That is why we produce ranges of filters: because different filters work on different formats in different ways.

Working with DFX and real glass filters can seem confusing – it’s a bit like chicken-and-egg. There’s a huge amount you can do with DFX. By trying different DFX filters, presets and parameters you can very quickly see a huge range of looks. When you find a look you really like you can go out and get the filter to make that look. There are a lot of people who believe they can ‘shoot RAW and do it in post’. However we must consider RAW as we would film negative, which is always shot with a filter to correct and affect the image. True, you can do a lot in post but to make the best end result you must start by recording a good image that is as near as possible to the look for want. And the way to do that is to use the right filters and lighting techniques as well as all of the tools and crafts. Then post becomes a much more powerful creative tool using DFX software that speaks cameraman’s language, which is especially useful if you edit your own footage.

Availability
The free trial version of DFX software is available as a download from www.tiffen.com. It then prompts you to do the one-time download. This full download or the disc version are recommended as it is complete with the full set of 2000 filters/ presets and gives you a licence to allow reloads if needed. There are several versions. ‘Complete’ is a standalone version which is especially useful for video/ film pre-visualisation of shoots. Other versions are supplied as plug-ins for Photoshop and for Aperture, and editing plug-ins for Final Cut Pro, After Effects and Avid.

On only a slightly different tack, iPhone photographers might like to try the ‘Photo fx’ and ‘Cool fx’ apps for in-phone ‘filtering’ of pictures.

Tags: tiffen | iss035 | dfx software | filters | len accessories | tiffen dfx | camera filters | N/A
Contributing Author N/A

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