Software Review: Tiffen Dfx 3.0 Suite

Practically Every Digital Filter & Effect Except the Kitchen Sink

Text and Images by Diane Berkenfeld

The Tiffen Company recently released version 3.0 of the company’s Dfx digital filter suite (www.tiffensoftware.com). I had used the first iteration of the plug-in for Apple Aperture a lot when it was first introduced. These days I use Lightroom extensively so I’ve been using the new version with Lightroom 3.

The suite is available as a plug-in for Adobe Photoshop, Photoshop Elements and Photoshop Lightroom, Apple Aperture, and as a stand alone program. One Tiffen Dfx photo plug-in license will allow it to run in all of the aforementioned image editors if installed on the same machine. The company also makes a version of the software for video/film editing using Adobe After Effects or Premier Pro, Apple’s Final Cut Pro 6/7 and with the Avid Editing Systems. One Tiffen Dfx video/film plug-in license will allow it to run in all of the aforementioned video editors if installed on the same machine too. It may not seem like a big deal, but most photographers use more than one piece of software for their imaging needs. Even though I do as much as possible in Lightroom, I still need Photoshop for some tasks. Knowing that I can use the same plug-in with both is convenient. I’m sure the same is true with folks working with video—using After Effects along with one of the video editors mentioned. For those multimedia folks who use Final Cut Pro X, look for a compatible version of Dfx in the future.

before and after image of orange poppies in field by Diane Berkenfeld

(l.) the original image, and (r.) the final image after masking the area around the main subject (the flower in the foreground) and emulating shallow depth of field.

I’ve been impressed with Tiffen’s Dfx software from the time the company launched the very first version, because of the extensive collection of effects and especially filters—digital versions of many of Tiffen’s photographic filters that we used to use so commonly with film cameras. Now with digital we can use software to emulate the effects of many of these filters in post-production, which is a great benefit because it lets you get really creative with your older images as well as those you just took. I love being able to go back to digital images that I shot years ago and tweak them in ways I wasn’t able to at the time the images were shot. The below shot is one that I photographed years ago on Ellis Island and every so often I’ll pull it out to work on it.

Tiffen Dfx 3 examples Ellis Island photos by DIane Berkenfeld

(l. to r.) Original image; Looks, color 8mm; ND Grad 1.2, cross print slide, preserving highlights; DeFog 6.

And, with the additional filters, lab processes, color correction and photographic effects that this new version offers, I’d say Tiffen has packed practically everything except the kitchen sink into Dfx 3. Over 2,000 different optical filters and effects are incorporated into the software. There’s so much that you can do with Dfx 3.0, you could conceivably replace a bunch of separate plug-ins—for B&W conversion, masking, adding lighting effects, adding blur/changing depth of field of an image, color correction, special effects like toning, adding grain, as well as debanding, deblocking, reducing noise, simulation of over a hundred film stocks, adding texture and matching the color, tone and detail of one image and applying it to another.

The DeBand, DeBlock and DeNoise are new, as are the key light and light rays, glow darks, color shadow and more.

That’s a lot of power in one plug-in/stand-alone software title. And what makes this software so unique is that its available in versions for both still images and film/video editing as well. With so many photographers delving into video these days, the familiarity of knowing how to use the plug-in for still images will be beneficial when you start working on video.

And like most plug-ins, you can tweak the strength of the filters. One of the cool things is that you can save filters as favorites, and when you’re looking for filters to use on an image, all of your favorites are in one location.

Diane Berkenfeld photo from Yellowstone park of hot spring in color and black and white

(l.) The original image, a close-up of a hot spring in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming and (r.) the B&W conversion, red filter. No additional tweaking was needed beyond the initial conversion.

There are so many different things that you can do with digital images these days, that sometimes you can find yourself at a loss as to exactly what a particular image might need until you begin to browse within the filters, seeing the effect on the image you’re working on. And I also think that once you use such an extensive program like Dfx, and get more familiar with the many things it can do, the extensive amount of choices becomes less overwhelming.

polarizer before and after image of boy by Diane Berkenfeld

(l.) The original image and (r.) Dfx 3.0's polarizer filter.

I love being able to use one program—stand-alone or plug-in—for a lot of the effects I like to use on my images. It makes your workflow quicker if you don’t have to keep switching from program to program. And with Tiffen’s Dfx plug-in for Lightroom, all I have to do is ‘Edit in’ Dfx 3.0, and I can browse filters to my hearts content. Dfx is very quick when you’re working within it, you see changes instantly on the fly when browsing among the filters and effects. When you’re done working with a filter or effect, rendering is pretty swift too.

Diane Berkenfeld screenshot of image in Tiffen's Dfx 3, masked

Masking is easy within Tiffen's Dfx 3.0 suite.

masked image of birds on rocks in ocean by Diane Berkenfeld

(l.) I had originally finished this image with a border in Lightroom; and then decided to work on it in Dfx 3.0, (r.) here is the image after masking and adding a graduated blue-red filter. I decided to crop the image, which I think makes the foreground stronger.

With regards to masking, Dfx gives you a variety of different ways to create the mask on your image, and a whole host of options for tweaking the properties of the mask once you’ve created it, and a myriad of ways to utilize masking a portion of an image with the thousands of filters and effects that the plug-in offers. Having the ability to create the mask within the plug-in saves valuable time, which may not seem like a lot when you’re working on one photo, but if you’re in the middle of a big editing session, all of that time switching between programs and plug-ins adds up. I also found it helpful that I could tweak the mask as much as I needed to if I didn’t like the way it was coming out—without having to start over.

before and after image of dalmation by Diane Berkenfeld

(l.) the original image, and (r.) the photo after I added highlights on the fireplace heath bricks at the top right. I added light, using a gobo for the mottled look on the bricks.

To find out more about Tiffen’s Dfx v3 software, watch the company’s promo video: http://bit.ly/ndZqgw.

Share

About PictureSoup
PictureSoup is the online destination for your [photo] inspiration.

Speak Your Mind