Tuesday, August 30, 2016

What is this Tiffen Pro 100 Filter System and why would I need it?

I have seen a new ad popping up on my screen recently for the Tiffen Pro 100 System, and after looking into it, thought that I should drop a couple of cents - more than a penny's worth of my thoughts.

Well, if you are relatively new into photography or never explored creative photography in the days of film, filters have been a key creative element in the artistic design and "flavoring" of your composition.  Although today, most people will simply use Photoshop or some other post processing software to create similar effects, filters are essential in film photography.

But what is the Tiffen System?  Well, I'm sorry to say that from my viewpoint it is a knockoff of the most popular filter system of days gone by.  Have you ever heard of Cokin Filters?  They are from France, and have been the creative photographers go-to magic for years (since 1978)!

Back in the late 70's, (yes, as in 1970's) I used Cokin filters on my old Minolta ST-101 to create some stunning pieces!  The secret to the system is that the majority of the filters are square pieces of colored glass.  You could choose your color and even get them in a gradient from clear to whatever color you wished.  The key was the holder that you mounted on the end of your lens.  You could "stack" a number of filters because they slid into slots and were held by a light spring pressure.  You could add a neutral density, perhaps an orange filter, and perhaps a graduated brown where the color was slid to the top half of the frame.  Point it to the landscape with some old fashioned Black and White Film, get some clouds in the photo, and Voila', you have a fantastic storm cloud on the horizon!

Okay Bob, but this is 2016!  Come out of your way-back machine and let's talk what's new!  Sorry folks, but it just isn't there.  The Tiffen Pro 100 filter system is a redesigned holder and the same square filter concept that Cokin has been and continues to produce.

So why not just add filters in Post Processing?  Many photographers do.  A seasoned Photoshop user would not hesitate to drop in an adjusting layer and create exactly what they wanted.  Lets face it though, many folks want cool photos but don't want to spend the time to learn a software package like Photoshop or many others that are available.  They may not find it something that they can afford for a monthly fee because they just don't shoot enough to justify it.  For any of these reasons, filters offer a great artistic option at a relatively low price in both money and time to learn.

Now, I will be the first to tell you that I have many Tiffen, Hoya, and Cokin filters.  I do use Photoshop, Corel Paintshop Pro, and a whole host of other software packages, filters, plug-ins, and stand-alones that more than effectively replace my old school darkroom.  I still use the filters, and I highly encourage you to do the same!

You don't need to purchase 300 different filters, although I am sure the manufacturers might desire that you do.  I do highly recommend researching and seriously considering something along the lines of the Cokin or Tiffen filter systems for the square filters.  These allow you tremendous flexibility and convenience.  I still shoot large format film, and can be found holding one of the filters in front of the lens while taking landscapes.  You can get really creative and see your results right in the viewfinder or on the screen.  Slide that graduated filter up or down a little and try rotating it until you get just the right feel.

I'm not going to recommend anyone's filters, nor am I going to put down anyone's.  I won't tell you (at least in this post) what filters you should have and use.  Good clear glass is the most important thing you purchase in creating fantastic images.  How you use it is what separates photographers from people taking snapshots.  Whatever you choose, keep it clean, and keep those shutters clicking!