FILTER SUITE

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 Tiff en Df x v3.0 and Photo f x 5.0

Dfx 3 is the latest suite of photographic and special effect filters from Tiffen, and itavailable in two flavours: a desktop version, which runs as a standalone product or as a Photoshop plug-in, and a cut-down version called Photo fx that runs on iOS devices.

The desktop version of Dfx is a vast, sprawling array of techniques, featuring over a hundred different filters with several thousand presets that can perform just about any adjustment to your images.

The filters are divided into several sections. Film T.ab includes Bleach Bypass, Faux Film, Flashing, Grain,

Overexpose and more, all simulating looks produced using different film stocks and darkroom techniques.

Therealso HFX Diffusion (featuring contrast, glows, diffusion and mist effects);

H FX Grads/Tints (gradations and colouring of all kinds, from the natural to the bizarre); Image (Levels, de-banding and de-blocking, colour correction, black and white, ozone and other adjustments); and Lens (defringing, distortion correction and application, vignetting and so on). Then therethe Light section, which includes glows, spotlights, star lenses, and two effects that project light onto the image, Light and Gobo. Finally, Special Effects includes Night Vision, Infrared, Fog, Colour Shadow, Texture and more.

Select any one of these, and youpresented with a large selection of presets. The

precise number depends on the filter, but as representative examples, Film Stocks includes 113 presets, while Gobo includes no fewer than 1,369 different overlays. As well as dragging to scroll through them all, you can search the more densely populated filters by kind as well. The really good news here is that all the photographic presets are shown, in thumbnail form, directly on the image youworking on, taking much of the guesswork out of the equation.

Once youselected a preset, you can then switch to the Parameters pane to tweak the results. This will present a further 20 or so

controls, enabling you modify every aspect of the effect according to your requirements. Those effects that add overlays have additional controls on the image that allow them to be repositioned and distorted.

You can stack multiple effects on top of each other in separate layers enabling you to build up complex arrays of filters that all work in tandem. Each filter can also be assigned a layer mask, which enables the filter to be applied selectively; this mask can be created by painting, using various auto-select methods, or via gradients or spots. Because each effect can have an independent mask, it allows for tremen dous flexibi 1 i ty.

 desktop version which

The application - which is called like a plug-in from within Photoshop, but in fact runs independently - seems somewhat overwhelming at first, as youassaulted by   an enormous battery of techniques and looks. However, once you get the hang of which filters are in each section, it becomes a fairly simple matter of trying different effects to see which best suit the image youworking on.

It really is compelling stuff: we found ourselves irresistibly drawn to trying out just one more filter, just one final tweak of the settings, to enhance and beautify our photos.

The only real problem with Dfx is that the interface is a little impenetrable at first. Icons arenimmediately clear, and itnot always obvious how some of the tools work. Resizing brushes for mask painting, for example, is done using a slider rather than keyboard shortcuts, and the size is shown in a square pop-up window. But that window only holds up to a 130-pixel diameter brush; drag the slider past that size and the brush will continue to enlarge, but the preview of the size remains at that 130-pixel limit. There are several interface irritations of this kind that break up the otherwise smooth flow of the program.

The results, though, are spectacular. New to this release are light rays, colour and tone

matching, de-noise and de-blocking filters, as well as colour shadows and glow darks. All in all, itan entertaining and engrossing set of filters that are both essential and wacky, but even the most outlandish are of genuine benefit to the photographer.

the iphone version is called Photo fx, but itclearly based on the same product, with 76 filters and an impressive 878 presets. The iPad version, Photo fx Ultra, is much more like its desktop counterpart. Filter categories appear in a strip along the bottom of the screen, and selecting a category produces a pane at the side showing all the presets. Once again, all the previews use the current image, rather than a generic photo, which gives a much clearer indication of the filterpurpose. This, though, uses vastly more processing power, and so itall the more surprising that the developers have managed to incorporate the previews so smoothly, even on the original iPad.

Selecting a preset applies the effect to the image, and two buttons on the menu bar bring up additional controls. Unlike the desktop version, which incorporates often dozens of parameters, the iOS controls are

in the main limited to a few basic sliders, which means youmore dependent on the presets. For those filters that use localised effects, the second button accesses a circular selection tool that lets you set the centre and radius of the effect.

Photo fx Deluxe supports images up to an impressive 3072 pixels, and includes such controls as Levels, and a Crop tool with a Straighten function that squares up images along a traced vertical or horizontal line. You canzoom into an image, though, so such effects as sharpening are impossible to judge with any accuracy.

As with the desktop version, you can apply multiple effects to the same image; the difference, though, is that once youapplied an effect,you canthen go back and edit it as you can with Dfx on the Mac. Once applied, an effect is burned into the image.

Photo fx Deluxe takes a while to learn, as the icons arenintuitive. Itnot helped much by the Help file, which rather bizarrely describes the icons rather than showing them - as in the Rotate icon (circle surrounded by arrows)’.

Completed images can be shared with Twitter, Facebookand all the usual suspects,  much as youexpect. However, therea useful extra wrinkle here, and thatthe opportunity to email settings files to yourself. Since ita tool for serious photographers, itunlikely many would choose to edit their images on an iPad rather than on their desktop Mac. But with the ability to email

settings, you can experiment with image effects, then complete the job back at your studio. Ita shame masks and painted effects arensent along with the settings, but this remains a useful addition to the photographerarsenal.

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