Two years ago, I wrote an article where Tiffen's Black Pro Mist 1/8 filter was the winner. But even though, I used the lowest strength of only 1/8, it still feels a little too romantic sometimes. So, I looked for another filter.
I met with beautiful Natalie again, so this article is kind of a follow up to my last filter testing, only with a new filter.
A quick refresher on the topic
As photography technology advances, cameras and lenses produce more detailed pictures. For a more organic and human look a diffusion filter can help. A diffusion filter is a type of camera filter that softens and blurs the image, creating a slightly dreamy or romantic look.
Tiffen made a triangle of diffusion so you can see where each specific filter sits and how they compare to one another.
Simplified triangle of diffusion
I tested my favorite diffusion filters by Tiffen, Glimmer Glas 1 against Black Pro Mist 1/8 and took an alternative shot without any filter at all.
Both filters introduce halation, causing a soft, glowing aura or halo around bright objects in the image. And as the Black Pro Mist filter felt a bit too dreamy, I bought the Glimmer Glas 1 filter, hoping it could become an always on filter.
You can see in the chart by Tiffen that the Glimmer Glas works more in the direction of softening the image instead of adding too much halation. As it scatters the light passing through it, the sharp edges in the image become less distinct, reducing the perception of detail and producing a softer, more ethereal look.
This softening effect is described by Tiffen as a resolution reduction because it reduces the ability of the lens to produce sharp, detailed images. This confused me at first as the resolution is set by the sensor of my camera, I questioned. Essentially, the filter is reducing the contrast between light and dark areas in the image, which makes fine details harder to distinguish.
So, I am testing out if the filter does as promised in helping to hide small blemishes, skin imperfections, or uneven skin tones, creating a more flattering image overall. With a slight reduction in resolution, leading to a softer image, this seems perfect for remvoing the digital look.
By creating a halo around the subject or other lit elements in the image, halation can help to draw the viewer's attention to those areas. For sure the diffusion creates a more flattering look on skin.
Against the sun on an overcast day
I took all test shots with daylight only and I used my 55mm lens bei Sony (to be precise: Sony Zeiss Sonnar T* FE 55mm f1.8 ZA) for it. No reflectors and no retouch on any of the shots you see in this article.
With direct sunlight
I know, I know, you don't shoot like this under such unflattering conditions. I did it only for testing purposes, of course. I was aware the sun gives unflattering shadows in the eye socket. Try to block that out and pay attention only to the skin itself. All images in this comparison are unprocessed.
Light from the side
Natalie stands in the shadow but the sun is positioned on the left side of the image (her right side).
Now, for something funky. I put both filters on top of another. Here's how this looks with a picture taken against the sunlight. With zero retouch, out of cam, this looks amazing and surprised me a bit!
Below is a shot that I graded with my Honey Pot LUT with one simple click. No further retouch done to this image.
This is a 100% crop of Natalie's face, so you can see the softening effect of the Glimmer Glass on her skin. I really like this look.
With filter or without filter? That is the question!
I had hoped there would be clearer results and I could announce a winner of my test at this point. But I can't. Maybe it was because I photographed on an overcast day where the sky color was rather white than blue. Or you could see more of a difference if I took photos at night with neon lights in the background.
I will repeat this test against a blue sky once we have the suitable weather for this, as well as the night situation with neon lights.
I like it when images don't look too digital. And so I will definitely be shooting with Glimmer Glass as an always on filter for a while. The skin looks good. Definitely flattering. Which is even more important when shooting nudes as there is a lot of skin, obviously.
What should not be neglected in any case is that such a filter always degrades the autofocus properties of the camera. Not to an extreme degree, but still good to keep this in mind.
P.S. The title photo of this article was photographed with Natalie standing in the shadow of a tree at f/1.8 with the Glimmer Glass filter and is also graded with my Honey Pot LUT. As with all photos in this article, there is zero skin retouch done.
I purchased the Tiffen filters by myself. This is not a sponsored post and I am freely reporting on the topic, because it interests me. As simple as that.
I hope you found this article helpful with your decision regarding diffusion filters.