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Old December 23rd, 2003, 01:08 AM   #1
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Tiffen Ultra Contrast 4x4 Filters... (Papert?)

I'm interested in the Tiffen Ultra Contrast 4x4 Filters. I believe the "1" was used throughout in Personal Velocity. From what i understand, these filters will stretch the blacks and shadows (borrowing light from highlights) producing more dynamic range and a better (flatter with more details) base image for colour correction/manipulation in post. If this is indeed the case, i am considering investing in one for use with my pd150.

i've done a search and found that Charles Papert has the full set...

"Charles, how do you find them? i am thinking of fully purchasing possibly the 1 and 2 for use. Personal Velocity used only the 1 through the whole shoot. How big of a step is the 2 from the 1? I will be vesting time - shooting for post and not straight to video. I have read about your comment about the possibility of sudden exposure changes when one pans with one of the stonger filters. These filters seem ideal. Are they?"

One other,.... How is the Ultra Pol compared to the Standard Pol?

They're not cheap and my pockets aren't very deep, so your advice and comments will be most appreciated.

Thanks in advance.
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Old December 23rd, 2003, 02:38 AM   #2
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According to my Tiffen brochure, there is only one Ultra Contrast filter, and not a "set."
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Old December 23rd, 2003, 04:15 AM   #3
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Hi Frank.

i have the list from my local dealer. The Ultra Cons come in the following grades: 1/8, 1/4, 1/2, 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5. Charles has mentioned he has the full set.

Side-question: do members of dvinfo get any discounts from the sponsors here, namely B&H?

Cheers.
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Old December 23rd, 2003, 05:13 AM   #4
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Thanks. Funny that wasn't mentioned in the brochure.
Quote:
Side-question: do members of dvinfo get any discounts from the sponsors here, namely B&H?
Sometimes there are specials from out sponsors, and posted. Don't know about the filters from B&H, but B&H is very competitive with pricing, plus they carry almost everything, such as Tiffen's Hollywood/FX line of filters.
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Old December 23rd, 2003, 07:44 AM   #5
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I've found 2 great links discussing these filters...
1. http://www.cinematography.net/UltraC...lterGrades.htm
2. http://www.cinematography.net/low_li...st_filters.htm

And this:
http://www.posteffects.com/usersguid...en/tiffen0.htm

It seems there is a new filter for reverse scenarios - bringing up detail in low light scenes. -

Tiffen 4x4" Low Light Ultra Contrast 2 Glass Filter
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/cont...=104569&is=REG
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Old December 23rd, 2003, 11:10 AM   #6
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Kevin:

My set is 1/2, 1, 2, 3, 4. I found any less than the 1/2 to be somewhat useless. I believe that Tiffen came out with an additional line of even stronger Ultracons at some point.

As I have posted before, I find that they are not really a "set and forget" filter. They need to be carefully protected from ambient or direct light striking the face of the filter, which means a full-on mattebox with siders and eyebrow to begin with. And there is the visible contrast shift possible as you mentioned.

I think they are of utility, but I'm not sure if I would feel comfortable endorsing them for every day use. Apparently Ellen Kuras (DP of Personal Velocity) feels differently, and she did very well with that picture.

I would recommend the Ultrapol over the standard pola...in fact, I would recommend the Schneider/B&W Ultrapol over the Tiffen.
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Old December 23rd, 2003, 02:44 PM   #7
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Hi Charles.
Thanks for replying.

i'm thinking about starting with just the "1". How much of a step up/down is the "1" to the 1/2 and 2? If i were to get 2 filters, would a 1 and 3 make sense?
I will be using 4x4 filters on the century shade/filterholder. (http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/controller/home?O=productlist&A=details&Q=&sku=219322&is=REG)

Lastly, when using one of these ultra cons... does one set exposure naked and then put the filter on... or do you set exposure with the ultra con already in place.

Thanks in advance.


(Just came back from watching the 3+hour final "Lord Of Rings". NY Times called it the Film Of The Year.... Errhh. ok. right)
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Old December 23rd, 2003, 02:48 PM   #8
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Oh... one other...
Charles, have you any experience with the Tiffen Low Light Ultra Contrast? Same principal but for low light scenarios...
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Old December 23rd, 2003, 03:31 PM   #9
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Kevin:

I haven't use the Low Light version. My feeling is that if you don't have enough light to activate a regular Ultracon, then probably you don't need an Ultracon to begin with. I use the Ultracons as a weapon to combat the contrast of bright sunlight against shade, a major enemy of good-looking video.

In the process of looking up the Low Light Ultra Con just now, I found this page which, if you haven't already seen it, has some good info about Ultracons for digital.

To sum up--I think Ultracon is a good tool, but I only feel comfortable having a selectionof strengths to choose from depending on the contrast within a given shot, and I have to pay significantly more attention to the image and protecting the filter from stray light. It's what I'd call a high-maintenance accessory, but if used well it can buy you prettier pictures.
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Old December 24th, 2003, 12:28 PM   #10
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I could be mistaken, but on the Personal Velocity DVD I believe Ellen Kuras said she used a lowcon.
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Old December 24th, 2003, 02:37 PM   #11
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Kevin,

With a gun to my head, I would take the 1 and 2, I guess. It's best not to go overboard with the Ultracons.

I generally tweak my exposure with the Ultracon in place. I find that since you have "lifted" the blacks, you can then stop down without fear of crushing them, which also drops your highlights further. Between the filter and the exposure compensation, you can potentially pick up 1-2 stops of effective latitude under the right circumstances.
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Old December 24th, 2003, 09:17 PM   #12
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Adam:
I think you are mistaken. The Ultra Con "1" was used. I tried a Low Con the other day and did not like the flaring and blooming of highlights. I find the "hazy" look of this and other diffusion type filters that most dealers stock to be unacceptable (my personal taste). I was a little frustrated to find out the limted 4x4 stock my dealer carried. They were all the obvious diffusion (promist/soft) ones. They only had the ultra-cons in the 6x6. This did however give me some insightful perspective of the industry where i'm at.

Charles:
Haha. Your last post had me grinning. I can only imagine you post-reflecting your love/hate relationship with the ultra-cons
since your last other post. I do get a very clear picture of what your position is though.

It does seem that from what i read, the ultra cons is a tool i'd like to have. The Ultra Con series won an Academy award for engineering so that is some validation if there ever was one.

I think i might just start with the "1" first.

And... i can go one further on you Charles. With a gun to your head, why don't you sell me your "1" and "2" ultracon at bargain basement prices. It's a win win scenario. I get what i want for xmas and you get some ultracon time-off.
Deal? Haha.

Just checked out your impressive bio/credits.

Thanks for your help. Merry X'mas & Happy New Year.
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Old December 24th, 2003, 09:59 PM   #13
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Charles,
Have you ever the need for a polariser/ultra con combo and how does that turn out?
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Old January 18th, 2004, 03:38 AM   #14
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Finally fished out money for my first ultra-con. Gave B&H a go. Should be getting it in a week if they deliver as promised.
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Old January 18th, 2004, 04:23 AM   #15
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Kevin:

Apologies, every now and then I respond to a post and it doesn't show up. I'm quite sure I wrote something about this last month!

Pola/Ultra-con: absolutely. Given a situation where glare can be reduced with a pola, it's always worthwhile as long as it doesn't "deaden" the image. Sometimes it's not that obvious to folks that polas aren't just an "on/off" filter; you can dial in just how much effect you like. For instance, backlight sun on water is usually too intense for video, but maximizing the pola might kill too much reflection leaving the water looking uninteresting and murky. Just a little sparkle might be more interesting, meaning the pola is backed off from full-bore.

There isn't a conflict between using these filters in conjunction, and I would recommend it. I would stack the Ultra-con closest to the lens since it is more prone to flaring, so having the pola up front will create a little protection against this occurring.
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