Diffusion Filters

Diffusion filters have been helping cinematographers create their look for generations. These filters can be used for lifting contrast and also creating halation, or glowing effects to specular light sources in a scene.

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Learn more about Diffusion Filters

If you have started diving into the creative field, you might already know that having a good lighting setup is extremely important to achieve a great resulting image. However, sometimes one ends up putting too much image forming light on the subject – which would look equally bad. To diffuse this incoming light, we can either use light modifiers or filters – and both work differently.

You can diffuse the external light source by using a light modifier like a diffuser or a softbox. When you do that, the lighting effect still looks natural – and everything retains sharpness. So, if you are looking for a dreamy look – this form of diffusion won’t help you out. You will need to use the diffusion filters to achieve that dreamy look with a soft focus on the subject.

What is a Diffusion Filter?

In simpler words, a diffusion filter is used to diffuse the image-forming light – and defocus it to achieve a dreamy and hazy glow in the image. When strong light is used with a diffusion filter, it'll give a beautiful haze effect around the light source while also softening the details of the subject.

A diffusion filter has an etched filter surface that would spread out the light through the tiny patterns to achieve the beautiful haze in the image. While the diffusion filters help in achieving soft focus, the images themselves still retain sharpness and contrast. Also, all the details would still be visible – and it doesn’t matter if it’s individual hairs of a human subject. The details won’t be lost here, making using this filter so much fun in real-world scenarios.

Why should you use a Diffusion Filter?

A diffusion filter is useful for shooting both – a photo as well as a video. It doesn’t matter if you are a photographer or a videographer, as having a diffusion filter can help you achieve a dreamy look in both fields. The hazy look achieved by this filter is unparalleled when compared to any edits you do in post-production.

A diffusion filter is being used in contemporary media for a long time now. Many films - especially the older ones from the golden age - have achieved this look by using different film stock and combining them with unique lighting techniques. If you re-watch some of the older movies, you will easily see that dreamy glowy effect – especially with those movies that were based on some form of magic. But now, you don’t need to do all that, as having a diffusion filter will easily get it done for you.

In the world of photography, it’s much easier to pick up the visual cues of this filter. You can easily tell if the image is shot using a diffusion filter or not. And while it is possible to recreate a dreamy look in photoshop by using different light flares, it won’t be as good as what can be achieved with the diffusion filter. A diffusion filter paired with modern lenses would help you get great results.

Does a diffusion filter blur the image?

When you first look at the image in the viewfinder, you might think that you ended up capturing a blurry image with the diffusion filter. However, that’s not the reality. While the diffusion filter definitely gives you a soft-focus effect, the image isn’t blurred out. All the images that you capture using a diffusion filter will retain sharpness as well as contrast.

When you are shooting portrait work, you will notice this the most by putting harsh lights near the subject. You will achieve a dreamy, hazy glow near the subject – which you might feel like a blurry image – but it won’t be. It’s just an effect of the filter – which you cannot easily produce with photoshop.

Frequently Asked Questions

We know that several questions can enter your mind when you first start looking for a diffusion filter. But – don’t worry. We have prepared answers to some of the most frequently asked questions here. And we believe that you will easily find the answer you’re looking for.

When should I use a diffusion filter?

You can use the diffusion filter under quite a few scenarios. If you want to achieve a softer look with the skin tones, you can use the lower strength filter – and it should be good to go. Secondly, if you are going out on a sunny day, you can carry the filter with you and use it to achieve soft light.

With the higher strength filters, you can use them while shooting directly into the light sources, as the haze produced in such scenarios gives a great dreamy look.

What are the thread sizes you carry?

We carry quite a few thread sizes – beginning from 37mm and going up to 82mm.

We believe that these filters would cover most of the lenses available in the market right now. We might not have the exact thread size for your lens – but you can always go with the bigger-sized version and use it with the step-up ring. If you think we should introduce more sizes, do reach out to us at hello@shopmoment.com and let us know.

Do all diffusion filters have the same etched filter surface?

While all diffusion filters have the etched filter surface, they might still have different patterns. So, not all the diffusion filters are the same and have the same etched filter surface. The pattern can differ between different manufacturers. Not only that but the amount of diffusion offered by every filter can be different. This is an important factor to keep in mind while purchasing a diffusion filter.

I don’t want my image to have way too soft focus. Which filter should I go for?

Currently, the maximum diffusion that our filters offer is 20% - which might be too soft for some people. However, if you don’t want to have such a soft-focus image, you should go with the 5% or the 10% filters, which will offer you lower diffusion. Also, the image won’t be that soft with the lower strength filters. The best middle choice here would be to go for the 10% diffusion filter.

I want to achieve a dreamy and diffused image. Which filter would you recommend?

The answer to this would be the 20% filter.

With the highest strength of the diffusion filter, you would achieve an extremely dreamy and diffused image. We believe that these are the best used in scenarios with direct light hits – which will help create a beautiful hazy look in the shot. You can also use them in other ways according to your preferences – as creativity is the only limit here.

Are diffusion filters used for movies?

Yes, they are used for movies.

There’s a good chance that you might not have noticed the shots where filmmakers used the diffusion filters in movies. However, we are sure that most of us have seen at least one movie that used such a filter in one of the shots. If you watch some movies again after learning this much about these filters, we are pretty sure you will be able to recognize the scenes where filmmakers used them.

Is it possible to create the same effect of diffusion filters in post-production?

Yes, it is technically possible to create a similar effect in post-production.

However, the effect that you will create in image editing apps like photoshop will be different from what you achieve while shooting directly with the diffusion filter on your camera. The effect can be similar – but not the same – and will likely look worse than what you would get with the filter.

So, while it is technically possible, and you might find some tutorials for the same, it will always be better to have the actual filter that will easily get the job done for you.

How should I select a thread size for my filter?

You need to check what thread size your lens can accept. Most lenses will have a “Ø” (diameter) symbol on them – besides which the thread size will be mentioned. Once you know that thread size, you can easily place an order in our shop.

Wrap Up

Just like any other piece of gear – your creativity is your limit with the diffusion filters. With the diffusion filters, you can achieve different shots under different scenarios. And we believe that we have provided you all the relevant information here – along with answers to some of the most frequently asked questions.

However, please feel free to reach out to one of our Gear Guides if you still have any questions. You can also contact us directly via email at hello@shopmoment.com – and we will be happy to help you out.