Tiffen Dfx 3.0
A venerable name in photographic filters has created a
dynamite software package that simulates those effects.
Photo software filters, plug-ins and apps are all the rage right
now and I’m not just talking about for “serious” photography.
What’s appealing about the popular iPhone photo-sharing
app Instagram is not only that you can share your pictures
with your friends and exchange virtual hearts and smiley
faces. It’s what you can transform your miserable little cell
photos into thanks to Instagram’s surprisingly effective
and cleverly named filters such as Earlybird, Toaster, Hefe,
Nashville and 1977.
In the end though, a cell phone photo is still a cell phone
photo even if you shot it with the iPhone 4S’s 8-megapixel
camera and ran it through the Sutro, Brannan or Kelvin filters.
And I say that as someone with a deep respect for the whole
When I really want to make “art,” I reach for my digital SLR
and, more often than not, end up running my shots through
a software filter plug-in or program. For the last few years,
Nik Software’s Color Efex and Silver Efex Pro applications
have been my go-to filter packages for adding color and
black-and-white effects to my photos. In last month’s issue
of PDN, I looked at another very good program from onOne
Software called Perfect Effects 3, which is part of Perfect
Photo Suite 6.
One of the most comprehensive digital filter suites of
them all, however, has to be Tiffen’s Dfx program, which
is now on version 3.0. Tiffen is a name familiar to anyone
who has placed a traditional glass filter on the end of his or
her lens to achieve an effect or look. The company’s been
making filters and lens accessories for photographers,
filmmakers, cinematographers and TV camera operators for
over 70 years, and they’re still making them—even in this increasingly non-analogue world.
So it would make sense that a business that knows how
to make actual glass filters would have a good grasp on
the simulated, digital variety. And Tiffen does. Dfx 3.0 is an
across-the-board filter spectacular with so many options for
adding effects to your photos you might feel overwhelmed.
Instagram, it’s definitely not.
But no worry. Half the fun of Tiffen Dfx 3.0 is exploring the
wide array of options even if occasionally you may head down
the wrong filter path.
Tiffen Dfx 3.0 is offered in a couple of different versions, either as a standalone app ($169); a plug-in ($199) for Adobe
Photoshop, Elements and Lightroom, and Apple Aperture (one
plug-in license will run on all the programs if they’re on the
same machine); or as a film/video version ($599), which works
as a plug-in for Adobe After Effects and Premiere Pro, Apple
Final Cut Pro 6/7 and Avid Editing Systems. There are also assorted bundle options.
Installation is a snap and I liked having the option of using
it in Photoshop, Lightroom and Aperture. (Having a lot of overlapping photo software on my computer is an occupational
hazard.) If you own or have tried any recent photo software—
aside from the big daddy, Photoshop—Tiffen Dfx 3.0 will have
a familiar look. In other words, it will remind you of a lot of
Lightroom, and that’s not a bad thing.
Though Adobe’s asset management software has its supporters and detractors, it’s been one of the most influential
photo programs out there in terms of its user interface. Like
Lightroom, Dfx 3.0 has the familiar gray-paneled interface,
with the image you’re working on featured in the center window, a row of thumbnails at the bottom, tools across the top,
and presets and editing tools on either side.
Since Dfx 3.0 is an image filter program, not an asset manager, the thumbnails you see at the bottom are the same as
the one you’re working on in the center window. Each thumbnail gives you a preview of the effect offered by the various
filter options. And as mentioned previously, there are many
filter options. Many, many options.
I didn’t count them all but, according to Tiffen, Dfx 3.0 offers 2,000 filters mimicking actual glass filters, lenses, film
grain, color correction, natural light and photographic effects.
Version 3.0 ups the ante with a large number of new features
and filters. Most notable for film junkies, there’s Film Stock,
which offers 113 simulated color and black-and-white films.
Tiffen Dfx 3.0 is a filter spectacular with so many options for adding
effects to your photos you may even feel overwhelmed.