Optical Filtration – Formatt Hitech Soft Gold.

In this modern age where almost any look can be created in post I find that there is still something extremely satisfying about creating as much of the final look of your content in camera as possible. And one thing that can make a huge difference is optical filtration.
As camera resolution continues to increase one type of filter that I find particularly useful is the diffusion filter. Diffusion filters can help take the digital edge off an electronic camera. They do this by causing some of the light passing through the filter to scatter which has a softening and contrast reducing effect, especially around highlights. 
By using different materials to scatter the light the effect can be coloured or modified for different looks.  A little bit of diffusion can really help to tame difficult highlights.

For a recent workshop where we had a scene that was designed to give the feel of an old Edwardian study,  I decided I wanted to create a very  romantic look. So I after playing with a couple of different diffusion filters I settled on a Formatt Hitech 1/4 Soft Gold filter. This filter is really nice for this type of shot as it adds a warm golden glow to high contrast areas. It also makes skin tones look a  little richer.

If you compare the first image which was shot without the filter and the other images that were shot with the filter, while I am happy with the shot without the filter, I really do feel that the filter transforms the shot into something that looks more romantic and has an “older” feel to it. Perhaps the 1/8th version of the filter might have been a better choice for a less strong effect, but this really is a filter I like a lot.

2-Shot-no-filter_1.6.1-scaled Optical Filtration - Formatt Hitech Soft Gold.
The scene without any additional filtration (click on the image to enlarge it).
Medium-shot1_1.3.2-scaled Optical Filtration - Formatt Hitech Soft Gold.
A shot from the scene with the Formatt Hitech 1/4 soft gold filter (click on the image to enlarge it).
Male-Face1_1.4.2-scaled Optical Filtration - Formatt Hitech Soft Gold.
Another shot from the scene with the Formatt Hitech 1/4 soft gold filter (click on the image to enlarge it).

The extra glow around the candles really enhances the sense of the candles being a part of the lighting while the softening of the highlights on the actors faces helps to make the images look more organic and less digital.

Candles-only1_1.10.1-scaled Optical Filtration - Formatt Hitech Soft Gold.
In this shot the only light was from the candles and the 1/4 Soft Gold filter makes the scene feel very warm and cosy.

4 thoughts on “Optical Filtration – Formatt Hitech Soft Gold.”

  1. Great work Alister and I’ve been using filters for a few years now. The gold looks amazing but I tend to use 1/8 & 1/4 glimmer glass now which gives a great glow without being obvious at all.
    I’m also using full diopters a lot now which in a combination look so good.
    Great work as always Alister!

    1. I find the soft gold and glimmer glass to be very similar but the soft gold is a bit stronger, so where I would use a 1/2 Glimmer, I would use a 1/8 soft gold.

  2. I totally agree. I almost always use filters – mostly 1/8 or 1/4 Promist to soften the image and avoid soap opera look, make it more filmic.

    What do you think of Daniel Lautzen’s comment that the filters should be behind the lens (as with Arri Signature Primes) because if the filter is in front, you don’t get lens flares, you get filter flares? I’ve played around with filters with lens flares and I don’t see the flares affected really but I don’t have the keenest eyes in the business. While Arri Primes aren’t an option for me, I have some lenses with adapters that could be fitted for filters – particularly my Helios lenses that I use when I want to maximize flaring.

    1. You still get lens flares with filters in front of the lens. But you may also get additional filter flares and reflections. Different filters behave differently whether they are in front or behind the lens. It can be beneficial to have any diffusion behind the lens as the amount of diffusion remains constant no matter what focal length you use. But then sometimes you want to have different amounts of diffusion for different framing and composition.

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