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Photo Filters:
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Star filters turn point-light sources into stars. The number of points depends on the pattern in the filter. A window-screen-like grid pattern produces four-point stars. Photo by Lynne Eodice

Fog filters make a scene look foggy. Photo by Mike Stensvold

Diffusion filters produce a soft, glowing effect that works well in portraiture. Photo by Lynne Eodice

Multi-image filters come in two basic varieties. This is the effect produced by the radial variety. Photo by Mike Stensvold

Diffraction gratings break up white light into its color components, producing colored streaks through point-light sources. Photo by Mike Stensvold

Holographic diffraction gratings produce whole families of colorful streaks or patterns around point-light sources. Photo by Mike Stensvold

While most often used for fall-color photography, enhancing filters work well on most warm-colored subjects. Photo by Lynne Eodice
Filter Resources

Adorama
Adorama's Pro-Optic filter line consists of a wide range of inexpensive square resin standard and effects filters, and a snap-on holder that takes up to four filters at a time. The filters are compatible with other "system" filter holders (including Cokin A and P) as well as their own. Various filter kits are available, each with its own handy carrying case. Adorama, 212/741-0052; www.adorama.com.

B + W
Distributed by Schneider Optics, Inc. (www.schneideroptics.com), German-made B + W filters are produced from solid-block Schott optical glass and feature brass mounting rings. Many are available with latest-generation Multi Resistant Coatings. A wide range of both standard and special-effect filters are available in screw-in sizes from 19-122mm, as well as bayonet, series and slip-on mounts. Many filters are available in SLIM configuration, allowing them to be used without vignetting on lenses as wide as 17mm. There's also the B + W Pro-Speed drop-in filter system, consisting of single glass 72mm filters mounted in 3x4-inch metal holders, and two glass 72mm filters mounted in a 3x6-inch metal holder. The Pro-Speeds are used in conjunction with professional bellows lens shades. Schneider Optics, 631/761-5000; www.schneideroptics.com.

Calumet
Calumet offers a line of glass standard and special-effects filters under its own name, as well as marketing filters of other manufacturers. Calumet's own filters come in uncoated, single-coated, multi-coated and super-multi-coated versions, in screw-in sizes from 49-82mm. Calumet Photographic, 630/860-7447; www.calumetphoto.com.

Cokin
French-made Cokin filters are distributed by Minolta Corp., and feature an extensive range of special-effects filters as well as more-conventional types. The system consists of more than 140 CR-39 optical-resin filters, a filter holder, and adapter rings to attach the holder to the camera lens. Up to three filters can be used in the holder at one time, and each can be slide up or down (or, by rotating the holder, sideways) as desired. Three sizes are available: A 67mm wide, 1.6mm thick), P (83mm wide, 1.6mm thick) and X-Pro (130mm wide by 170mm high by 3mm thick). Adapter rings are available from 36-62mm for the A holder, from 48-82mm for the P, and from 62-112mm for the X-Pro holder. Minolta Corp., 201/825-4000; www.minoltausa.com.

Heliopan
Distributed by HP Marketing, German-made Heliopan filters feature Zeiss Schott glass and slim black anodized brass rims (no vignetting with 21mm lenses). The mounts are threaded to accept hoods and additional filters. Standard single-coated and 16-layer (8 per side) SH-PMC coated filters are available. The line includes a full range of standard and effects filters in screw-in sizes from 28-105mm, plus bayonet mounts. Heliopan also offers rectangular graduated filters (allowing the gradation to be positioned wherever you want, not just in the middle as with screw-in graduates), neutral-density wide-angle filters (which compensate for light falloff at the edges with wide-angle lenses),drop-in filters and a professional filter holder. HP Marketing, 973/808-9010; www.hpmarketing.com.

Hoya
Hoya (distributed by THK) offers a full line of solid-glass standard and effects filters. Standard, multi-coated and super-multi-coated versions are available, along with the Ultra series of super-thin filters with 3mm rings to minimize vignetting. Screw-in filters are available in sizes from 39-82mm. THK Photo Products, 562/494-9575; www.thkphoto.com.

Lee
Lee offers a wide range of lighting filters, as well as polyester film and resin camera filters in both standard and special-effects types. Camera filters include warming and cooling, ND, CC, colored, fluorescent-light, enhancing, UV, polarizers, diffusion, star and effect grads. Lee Filters, 800/576-5055; www.leefiltersusa.com.

Kodak
Kodak's Wratten gels are now distributed by Tiffen. These high-quality gel-film filters come in a huge assortment of precise colors, and are used widely in the movie industry. The Tiffen Company, 631/273-2500; www.tiffen.com.

Singh-Ray
The maker of high-quality specialty filters is based in Florida. They offer a variety of excellent graduated ND filters, diffusers, color intensifiers and polarizers, and can custom-make filters to your specs. Singh-Ray Filters, 800/486-5501; www.singh-ray.com.

Sunpak
Distributed by ToCAD America, Japanese-made Sunpak PicturesPlus optical-glass filters are available is a wide range of types and screw-in sizes from 27-82mm, the smaller sizes fitting digital cameras and camcorders. All come with a lifetime warranty. Types include polarizers, UV, skylight, ND, warming and cooling, fluorescent-light, color enhancers, grads, diffusers and fog filters, vignetters, and star filters. ToCAD America, 973/428-9800; www.tocad.com.

Tiffen
Winners of two Academy Awards for technical achievement and an Emmy for engineering excellence, U.S.A.-made Tiffen filters have long been used by the movie and television industry, and come with a 10-year warranty. Both standard and special-effects filters are available, including an extensive range of diffusion types, low-contrast filters, and color grads. The Tiffen Company, 631/273-2500; www.tiffen.com.

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