Since the earliest days of photography filters have played a necessary role in enabling photographers to control the imaging processes. Today, working in colour and in particular utilizing digital image processing techniques, do filters still play a role and if so which ones are necessary and useful?
Unfiltered Lee Enhancing Filter
The image above was taken with a medium-formatRollei 6008iand300mm f/4 Schneider Apo-Tele-XenaronKodak 100VS film. The lighting conditions were bright-hazy. The one on the left is without filter and the one on the right was taken through aLeeColor Enhancing Filter. Neither frame has had any correction other thansharpeningandlevelsin PhotoShop. Specifically, there is no colour correction applied — just the straight output from myAgfa Duoscan.
As can be seen the filtered frame on the right has considerably punched-up reds and yellows (which is what a colour enhancer is supposed to do) but it also has an unacceptable magenta cast.
The frames below are versions of the frames above. The one on the left is the un-filtered image but with +15 Red and +15 Yellow colour saturation increases inPhotoShop.
Unfiltered – colour boosted Lee Enhancing Filter – magenta corrected
The frame on the right is the one taken through theLee Enhancing Filter, but with the magenta cast removed (+50 Green).
So what do you think? I realize that the limitations of on-screen display and the smallish image sizes make the comparison difficult. It’s even difficult when comparing large screen images and 8 x10" prints.
But, the print on the left which is unfiltered, with colour that was saturated using PhotoShop, is cleaner with more pleasing colours than the enhancement filtered but magenta-corrected one on the right. My take therefore is that the use of a colour enhancing filter is largely redundant if you will be processing your images digitally prior to output.Even if you are using traditional printing means then you will have to correct for a major magenta imbalance that seriously compromises the benefits of the filter to begin with.
I’d been told that theSing-Raycolour enhancing filter does not suffer from this magenta cast. Fortunately in mid-October ’99 on a shoot in theEastern Sierrawith photographerSteve KossackI had the opportunity of comparing theLee,Sing-RayandTiffenenhancers. ClickHEREfor that review.
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