How To Bring A Vintage Cinematic Look To Modern Digital Images


Can a simple filter help you make your digital images look more cinematic and film-like? The answer is yes. K&F CONCEPT has a series of Black Diffusion filters (sometimes referred to as “Black Mist”) that has small particles embedded into the glass designed to diffuse light and create a soft, glowing, mist-like effect.

This filter series can create a soft glow or “Orton” effect in bright and back-lit conditions, and in normal and neutral lighting scenarios, it can diffuse the colors and smooth the contrast, giving your images a cinematic film-like look and feel.

Full Disclosure: This sponsored story is brought to you by K&F CONCEPT.

These Black Diffusion filters are often used by creatives looking to create a calmer, nostalgic, and softer look. They can provide a smooth analog feel that would otherwise require shooting on older film to achieve. The Black Diffusion filters use small particles to catch the incoming light and spread it around, lowering the overall contrast and adding a soft glow to the highlights of your images. They can even help soften the sun (and the resulting lens flares) giving the images a vintage look at feel.

K&F CONCEPT Black Diffusion Filter
The full 1-level filter may look dirty/dusty, but that’s exactly how it should look.

The reduced clarity and sharpness can help soften the details of your subject’s skin, as well as their clothing, effectively reducing wrinkles, creases, and even spots while maintaining important details like the clarity of the subject’s eyes and hair. Additionally, it should be worth noting that these filters will not impact the white balance of the image, or add any color casts outside of what is being manually captured. Instead, these filters will create a softer atmosphere for the scene.

What’s the Point?

There are dozens of reasons to use a filter like this for your photo or video projects. Primarily, if you want your image softened and the highlights to be reduced, this is the filter type you want to go for. Old-schoolers may tell you stories of using a UV filter and some vaseline or hairspray to achieve a similar look, or even stretching some nylon or plastic over the lens in a DIY fashion. Thankfully the price of these filters is impressively cheap (From $30 to $65) making it easy to have the real thing handy when needed, and to ensure the images are consistent from shoot to shoot, which you can’t really rely on from a DIY solution.


K&F Black Diffusion Filters at Sunset (Portrait)

The K&F CONCEPT Black Diffusion filters will provide a consistently soft result every time, leaving the users to decide which level of intensity is right for their shot. In general, with my portrait work, I used the 1/8 and 1/4 intensity filters that allowed me to get sharp images with softened skin and a subtle glow in the highlights to create an almost ethereal look.

Obviously, this look is strengthened when shooting wide open to add an almost dream-like feel to the images captured. Shooting at an aperture of f/5.6 to f/11 (and higher) will reduce the “dream-like” look but still provide you with impressively softened highlights.

Some will argue that using these types of creative filters will reduce the quality of your images by decreasing the sharpness and contrast, but sometimes, the look just feels right. With special effect filters like these, it will give users a creative/analog feel that will work incredibly with some images. It isn’t something you’d leave on your lenses permanently, but it is definitely worth keeping in your bag to have handy at all times.

Below is a series showing what each level of Black Diffusion can do:

1-K&F Black Diffusion Filter No Filter
No Filter
2-K&F Black Diffusion Filter 1:8
K&F CONCEPT Black Diffusion Filter 1/8
3-K&F Black Diffusion Filter 1:4
K&F CONCEPT Black Diffusion Filter 1/4
4-K&F Black Diffusion Filter 1:2
K&F CONCEPT Black Diffusion Filter 1/2
5-K&F Black Diffusion Filter 1:1
K&F CONCEPT Black Diffusion Filter 1/1

Design and Build Quality

K&F CONCEPT Black Diffusion Filters

The Black Diffusion filters, (available in a 1/8, 1/4, 1/2, and 1 — full — intensity variants), are made with aviation aluminum alloy with rigid grooves around the edges for an easy grip when mounting and removing them from your lens. The waterproof filters are made with Japanese AGC Glass with 28 layers of multicoating for added scratch resistance and the anti-reflection coating effectively reduces the chance of ghosting in the images. Each filter comes in a hard plastic case with rubber grips on the interior to help prevent shaking, scratching, and impact damage when transporting.

The CNC non-slip and ultra-slim frame is only 3.3 millimeters, meaning it will avoid any vignetting and dark corners on wide or telephoto lenses. Additionally, users can stack these filters with other filters like an ND or CPL filter allowing for even more creative freedom.

Additional Images Captured with the K&F CONCEPT Black Diffusion Filters

Are The K&F CONCEPT Black Diffusion Filters Worth It?

Honestly, I was legitimately surprised by the K&F CONCEPT Black Diffusion filters. I wasn’t sure what I was expecting when they first shipped these to me to test, but after using them on a few shoots, I’ve really started to love them. Initially, I thought the dusty look of the filters would actually impact the quality of the images being captured, but instead, the filters seem to do precisely what they describe and nothing more.

So yes, I believe these filters are actually worth it. Lenses that already have a great and pronounced bokeh when shooting wide open will have all the more flare with these filters, and even when not going for the super-shallow shots, the diffusion will create a nostalgic film-like feel to everything you capture.

For the most part, I’ve been sticking to the 1/8th and 1/4 intensity (see the portraits above) but there’s a use-case for everything and I’m sure I’ll find another reason to pull out the 1/2 and full strength filters on another project soon. While the diffusion filters aren’t for everyone, they create a warming aesthetic that can soften an image and make a digital image, look a little bit less “digital”.

The K&F CONCEPT Black Diffusion filters range in size from 37mm to 82mm and are available for $30.99 to $63.99 per filter depending on the size and density of the mist. Additionally, the Filters will also be on a Prime Day Sale on October 11 and 12.

K&F CONCEPT focuses on making photo and video cameras and accessories and has over 150 patents for those products. Currently, the company’s gear is sold in 56 countries and regions with over 260 business partners as well as being ranked among one of Amazon’s Top Best Sellers. The company says it creates, designs, and manufactures a full range of award-winning camera gear, including tripods, backpacks, lens adapters, filters and more to come.

Full Disclosure: This story brought to you by K&F CONCEPT.