Moment – online sellers of video and photo equipment like bags, filters, gimbals, drone and smartphone filters, and even smartphone apps – have added CineBloom Diffusion Filters to their webstore.
Who else uses filters?
Back when I was still making films and in the early days of digital cinema, I never rolled the camera without at least three filters in the matte box. While NDs and color conversion filters were a necessity, I often added a touch of diffusion to soften the contrast. Black and White Pro Crap, Hollywood FX, and Diffusion were my usual "weapons of choice".
Soft contrast with MOMENT CineBloom filters. Image credit: MOMENT
Nowadays I practically never put filters in front of my lens: It's too easy and flexible to add gradients, colors or diffusions in post-production. I hardly ever use a polarizer because the dynamic range of modern cameras is so good that I can pull back the sky and add more blue when sorting. Also, I don't get the wax-skin effect that most Polas introduce.
However, I noticed the release of their CineBloom filters by MOMENT and I decided to take a closer look.
What is diffusion?
You can think of diffusion filters from optical "compressors". The light that comes from bright sources – such as internships, sky or brightly lit surfaces – hits the filter and is "broken up" by tiny bumps in the filter glass and distributed into darker areas around the bright core. The overall contrast of the image is reduced, and bright parts glow around them. This glow can help make high-contrast, sharp videos look more film-like.
Light areas start to glow. Image credit: MOMENT
Moment offers its new CineBloom filters in two different strengths – 10% and 20% and for a variety of filter threads: 37, 58, 62, 67, 72, 77 and 82 mm. (Unfortunately they don't offer square versions for standard 4 × 4 filter bowls.) I also couldn't find any information on what 10% and 20% actually concern.
MOMENT's filters definitely got me back to using diffusion in the camera. Something I will consider in the next projects. Judging by the demo on their website, the CineBloom filters seem to be on the strong side. (It says nowhere if they used the 10% or 20% strength in their promotional videos and stills.) There's a little too much light going on there for my taste.
"Creamy" look without "hot" highlights in the frame. Image credit: MOMENT
That being said, I think having only two strengths at your disposal seems a bit limiting. Diffusion filters are usually available in at least three or, even better, five strengths. So you can carefully choose different intensities and adjust the strength of the diffusion depending on the focal length. (Typically, you want less dispersion in larger shots and more in close-ups.)
As mentioned above, much of the effect of a diffusion filter can be digitally recreated afterwards, but there is a subtle difference in how the light interacts with other parts of the image that feel more organic and appealing.
Note: Always be careful when using diffusion in the camera. While you can make up for the loss of contrast later if you tend to, you can't get rid of the glow at all!
Do you use diffusion filters? If yes, which? Are you interested in what MOMENTs have to offer? Let us know in the comments below!