Review of Tiffen Dfx Digital Filter Suite

Tiffen, the standard in photographic filters and lens accessories for over 69 years, is now making "digital" filters. The Tiffen Dfx digital filter suite comes in many flavors. It comes as a standalone, as a plug-in for still imaging, or as a plug-in for video. It comes as a complete set with 91 individual filters and as a smaller select set. I will be reviewing the complete set using the plug-in for Photoshop on Photoshop CS3 for Windows.

Dfx Features are:
• 91 individual filters
• Thousands of customizable presets
• Simulation of Tiffen glass camera filters, specialized lenses, optical lab processes, film grain, exacting color correction as well as natural light and photographic effects
• Rosco and GamColor Gel libraries
• GamColor Gobo pattern library for lighting effects
• 8 or 16 bit image processing
• Multi-processor acceleration

The filters are categorized by function. They are: Film Lab, Gels, HFX Diffusion, HFX Grads/Tints, Image, Lens, Light, Photographic, and Special Effects.

The filters listed below are either contained in the complete set or the standalone set.

Film Lab Filters Gels HFX Diffusion
Bleach Bypass GamColor Black Diffusion/FX® Low Contrast
Cross Processing GamColor Cine Filters Black Pro-Mist® Pro-Mist®
Faux Film GamColor Naked Cosmetics Bronze Glimmerglass® Smoque®
Flashing Gels Center Spot Soft/FX®
Grain Rosco CalColor Cool Pro-Mist® Ultra Contrast
Overexpose Rosco Cinegel Diffusion Warm Black Pro-Mist®
Three Strip Rosco Cinelux Glimmerglass® Warm Pro-Mist®
Two Strip Rosco Storaro Selection Gold Diffusion/FX® Warm Soft/FX®


HFX Grads/Tints Image Lens
Color Spot Auto Adjust (Standalone Only) Selective Color Correct Blur
Color-Grad® Black and White Selective Saturation Chromatic Aberration
ND-Grad Color Correct Sharpen (Standalone Only) Defringe
Dual Grad F-Stop Telecine Depth of Field
Mono Tint FL-B/D® Temperature Lens Distortion
Old Photo Kelvin   Rack Focus
Split Tone Ozone   Radial Exposure
Strip Grad Paint (Standalone Only)   Split Field
Sunset/Twilight Printer Points   Vignette


Photographic Special Effects Light
Color Compensating Black/White Looks Night Vision Edge Glow
Color Conversion Color Infrared Nude/FX® Glow
Light Balancing Color Looks Pencil Gold Reflector
Photographic Filters Day for Night Polarizer Halo
  Defog X-Ray Light
  Double Fog   ReLight
  Enhancing   Silver Reflector
  Fog   Star
  Infrared   Streaks

Below is a screen capture of the basic UI of the program. I used an example of the the HFX Diffusion. The UI is customizable. You can move the areas of the screen by clicking and dragging on the dividing lines.

From that category, I selected Center Spot and, then, made changes to the parameters on the right side to the Falloff so the bird was not blurry. As you can see, I, initially, had choices from the left side of a number of presets, Center Spot 1, 2, for example.

The next example is of the same bird for which I created two different moods, one of night and one of sunset. The one for night was created from the Special Effects category using the Day for Night Filter and, then, preset, Day for Night #2. The sunset was, also, created from the Special Effects category using the Color Looks filter and the Sunset preset. I lightened the Day to Night image a little by modifying one of the parameters.

To give you an idea of some of the filter, I'll be giving some examples with commentary. Below is a modified example of the Lens category and the Depth of Field filter. While I modified the blur parameter, I also could have moved the square on the top downward to change what objects were most effected by the depth of field.

On the UI, is a buttom which is very useful. I can set it to show both the original and modified image. There are other buttons that I can activate to see how the filter looks on the top or bottom or right or left portion of the image.

Below is another filter applied to the same image as above. Here the category is HFX Diffusion and the filter is Bronze Glimmerglass®. Attached on the right is the list of the parameters for this particular preset. There are four presets for this filter.

In the Standalone version, the User Guide states that a filter layering system is available. In the Photoshop plug-in, one has to apply filters separately. Below is an example of two filters applied to an image. This was done in two stages.

However, you can work on separate layers in Photoshop and, then, bring in each layer separately to have a filter applied to it. I took my image of a door and put a figure in front of it. When I clicked on the figure layer and opened the Tiffen filters, only the figure appeared and the filter was applied to it.

The filter that created the image below is out of keeping with the other filters that make up this set. It is under Special Effects and is called the Pencil filter. It is the only one that takes an image and changes it into any type of a line drawing.

There are a number of filters in different categories which will give one and two tone effects to an image. I selected different parts of the original image and applied two different filters successively. Then I added the dark image to the original image and decreased the opacity so it would form a tint.

As you can see there is a lot you can do with these filters used alone and in combination with each other. Again, this was done in separate stages.

The requirements to use these filters are:




Windows XP Pro, XP Home, or Vista
1.0 GHz Pentium III, 
Pentium or AMD processor
1 GB of RAM
(2 GB or more recommended)
1 GB of available disk space for caching and temporary files
Open-GL capable graphics card
Display with 1024 x 768 resolution or higher 
(1280 x 1024 resolution recommended)
Three-button mouse
Mac OSX 10.4 and above
Macintosh 1.0 GHz processor or faster 
PowerPC G4, G5, or Intel processor
1 GB of RAM
(2 GB or more recommended)
1 GB of available disk space for caching and temporary files
Display with 1024 x 768 resolution or higher 
(1280 x 1024 resolution recommended)
Three-button mouse

These filters can be ordered directly from Tiffen. The Photoshop Complete (Web) plug-in Set costs $299.95 and the Photoshop Select (Web) Plug-in Set costs $159.95. For more information on the filters, go to the Home page. A trial version of these filters can, also, be downloaded. I am always impressed when a company offers a trial version of a product, and I always encourage people to try it out.

The User Guide for the Tiffen Dfx digital filter suite is very complete and excellent. There are two help menus in the program itself - one similar to the User Guide and one that will open to the specific filter that one is using at the time.

These filters are really a lot of fun. Are they different from Photoshop's filters? Yes. They combine many types of filters into one set. It is easy to see that these filters originate from a company that started out in the field of providing quality optical accessories. Many of these filters remind me of the type of filters I used when I first used black and white film and, then, when I started using color and the computer was not an instrument that was normally found in the home. These filters are not line drawing filters although there is one Pencil filter. They are not filters that basically distort the shape of an image although there can be some minimal distortion involved. They are filters that mainly work with color, shadows, intensities, focus, and similar enhancing and changing effects. One of the attributes that makes them especially easy to use is the clear interface.