Monday 2 March 2015

Tiffen Dfx v4 Photo
$129.99 (standalone)
$149.99 (photo plugin)
$499.95 (film/video plugin)
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Once upon a time, many years ago in a time known as the 1980s I used to photograph pop stars for teen magazines. When I wanted to add a bit of sparkle or give the photos a soft-focus blur I would have to place a ‘filter’ (a piece of coloured or textured glass) over  the lens of my camera. Special-effects filters had to be applied at the time the photograph was taken. Now that most photography is digital we are used to adding colours, blurs and other effects on a computer rather than in the camera. And that’s where the Tiffen Dfx suite comes into its own.

Here I am applying the Pastel filter. I’ve selected a preset and then made adjustments to parameters in the panel on the right. I’ve divided the preview to show the applied effects on the right of the photo and the original on the left.
Tiffen is a company whose reputation is built upon its traditional ‘on camera’ optical filters. Its Dfx software is, to some extent, a digital simulation of many of the company’s glass filters. It lets the digital photographer apply photographic effects that were traditionally created using camera lenses, filters, film grain and photographic lab processing.  The Dfx suite is available either as a standalone application or as an add-in for Adobe Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, Lightroom and Aperture. There is also a video version that can be used with Adobe After Effects, Premiere Pro, Apple Final Cut Pro, Motion 5 and Avid Editing Systems 64 bit on Windows 7 or 8 or Max OS X 10.7 and above. For this review I used the standalone photo suite on Windows 7.

I reviewed the last version of Tiffen Dfx (v 3) previously. This new version retains the software’s neat, easy-to-use interface so even if you’ve never used it before you should find it pretty simple to get started. It supplies a huge range of ready-to-use effects (over 130) which can be customised by setting parameters in a docked panel. New features include some non-realistic filters such as cartoon and pastels as well as a ‘Grunge’ filter to add on digital scratches, grain, hairs and splotches – just in case you think your digital pictures look just too damn’ clean!

You can apply multiple effects in ‘layers’ with each layer shown at the left of the screen. Here I have applied several effects to soften the image and add a golden tone to simulate a late summer’s evening.

Principal New Features
  • OFX plug-in support, making Tiffen Dfx compatible with professional digital intermediate programs Blackmagic Design Davinci Resolve and Assimilate Scratch, as well as the high-end Nuke visual effects program from The Foundry. It also expands NLE support to include Sony Vegas® and DaVinci Resolve Lite. 
  • 12 new filters – Borders, Cartoon, Colorize Gradient, Detail, Develop, Grunge, Harris Shutter, Pastel, Pearlescent®, Radial Tint, Satin® and Tone Adjust 
  • 93 historical film processes and 30 motion picture film stocks added as new presets within the popular film stocks filter 
  • More parameters and tools added to presets – includes new tools for color correction, tint enhancement and gradient control 
  • Process in 32-bit floating point precision – ability to selectively access your image’s dynamic range without clipping values in a true non-destructive workflow. Improved easier and faster “on board” masking tools for the Dfx still programs – photo plug-in and standalone. 
  • New edge-aware smoothing algorithm (for skin smoothing) added to some filters for refined control and application 
  • New Curve Tool for still programs – designed to control tonal range through RGB and individual red, green and blue curves. Adjustable curve points for shadow and highlight control 
  • Improved Interface – new optimized preview size – images can now be previewed in 4096, 2048 and 1024 pixels. Keyboard control added for brushes and new look to sliders, buttons and icons. Mac Retina display support.

In summary, this is a really nice application for digital photographers who want to enhance their pictures with filters that recreate natural-looking glass-filter, film and lens effects. The addition of some non-naturalistic effects such as Cartoon is an added bonus. All in all, this is a nice addition to the software toolset of the serious digital photographer.