Cokin filters revisited

There’s a really interesting article about photographer John Duder going back and experimenting with filters he never got around to using in the 80s over on ePHOTOzine: Experimenting With Filters From the Eighties I Have Never Used – Come Check Out The Results
Also interesting that we’ve got many of the filters he used here on PhotographyAttic. check out our Cokin A-Series section and the Cokin P-Series

Spot filter effect

An interesting and under used  filters in the Cokin range is the Incolor 061. It’s part of the spot color range, and unlike many of the other colour spot filters this one is very practical and can be used in different ways for different effects. The spot filters with colour can sometime look quite poor if not used well, whereas this one can be adjusted to give a soft focus style effect or a lovely white vignette. This makes it perfect for wedding photography or portraits.

Spot Incolor 062 Filter

The filter is available in Cokin’s A and P series and has a small hole in the centre.  When placed in front of the camera lens the hole either appears small or large, hard edged or soft edged, depending on the lens focal length and aperture used.

To get a large soft edge you should take photos using a longer focal length (around 50-80mm is fine with this filter) and use a wider aperture. If you want a more pronounced circle, use a wider lens and a smaller aperture.

spot incolor 062 texture
The texture on the filter can be made to look white/grey or neutral depending on how parallel it is to the ccd/film…and if light is reflecting on the rear surface.

062 Spot Incolor holeYou could focus lock on the filter so the subject through the hole is blurred and the filter texture sharp. This makes interesting creative shots.

spot incolour 062 in useA longer lens and wider aperture was used here. Notice how soft the edge is and how neutral the filtered area is.

spot incolor 62 softHere the filter was adjusted so the spot was on the face. You can do this if the filter is hand held in front of the camera. The filter was held further away and angled so light reflected on it.

spot incolor 62 softHere’s the filter being used to it’s best. Good choice of aperture and focal length gives a lovely diffused vignette.

spot incolor 062 hardAnother version with a slightly more defined effect. Using the filter like this is great for wedding photography and romantic portraits.

You can buy the filter here: Cokin A series 061 Spot In color Filter

Circular or Round filters?

Many new filter buyers are unsure whether to buy a round filter or one of the many square options.

system filters or round?

A round filter screws directly onto the front of your lens. A Square filter slides into a filter holder that has an adaptor ring matching the filter thread size of your lens.

There are a few advantages and disadvantages to consider.

The main advantage with a filter system, using a filter holder is that you only need one filter for a number of lenses. You just need to change the adaptor ring so the filter and holder will fit on to a different lens. Once you’ve bought the adaptor and ring system filters tend to be less expensive.
+ System Filters

This not only means it’s a lower cost when you have a selection of lenses, but you also save space. Imagine wanting five different filters and you have four lenses with different filter thread sizes. You’d need 20 filters in total! Well this is not exactly true as you can buy step up or step down rings to change the size of the lens’ filter thread.
+ System Filters

Screw in filters are often better quality. They’re usually made of glass and of the highest optical quality. Being glass they don’t scratch easily either, so are easier to clean without damage.
+ Round Filters

Screw in filters tend to take up less room as there’s no holder required. They are less protruding on a lens too so there’s less chance of vignetting (caused by the filter obstructing the corners of the frame).
+ Round Filters

The filter holder type of filter design usually means there’s a gap between the lens and the filter. This not only potentially reduces quality as light has more complicated path to follow, but also means the lens could be exposed to the elements more.
+ Round Filters

Although there are plenty of screw-in filter options you won’t get a wider range than a system filter, especially in the more creative options.
+ System Filters 

Practicallity of use
If you intend using graduated filters you can’t beat the slot in system as you have the option to move the gradient up or down in the holder, whereas a screw in filter has the gradient fixed across the middle.
+ System Filters

Screw in filters stand you more chance of cross threading the filter on the lens thread. They are harder to remove if you over tighten too. While system filters need a two step process, so are slower at first while you have to attach the holder then slip the filter in. If, however you can put up with the extra bulk at the front of your lens and leave a filter holder attached the slip in type become far less fiddly.
+ System Filters  

If you decide to sell your filters square ones tend to fetch a better price on sites like ebay.
+ System Filters

There are many filters are for sale here:
Cokin A series,
Cokin P series,
Hoyarex System,
Cromatek System,
Round filters

Diffraction filters explained

The diffraction filter is a special effect filter that can be found in a number of filter brands’ ranges.

Diffraction filter The diffraction filter creates spectacular rainbow coloured streaks or star bursts from highlights.

Hoya made the effect popular back in the 70s with their group of filters called Spectral Star.

The Hoya Spectral Star is a conventional starburst filter that added a rainbow-like pattern to the streaks. Hoya had three filters in this range

The Hoya Andromeda is a single line through the photo used to create ghost-like blurs and multicoloured streak from point light sources.

The Hoya Pulsator is a colourful 8 point star burst.

And the Hoya Nebula is a multipoint filter for spectacular colour bursts

The French brand Cokin replicated Hoya’s effects with their series of Diffraction filters which are still available today

The Cokin Diffractor Cosmos 040 is like the Hoya Andromeda

The Cokin Diffractor Univers 041 is like the Hoya Pulsator

And the Cokin Diffractor Galaxy 042 is like the Hoya Nebula

And thanks to Cokin’s universal holder these filters can easily be adapted to fit a wide range of lens filter thread.

Hoya copied the system filter approach popularised by their version called Hoyarex.

The Hoyarex versions are easier to understand as they are named by the number of points. There are also more options to choose from including the following:

It’s not easy to recreate this filter digitally and is well worth adding to your collection. The filter works with glass, water, jewellery and any other item where you can get a sparkle of light to diffract. Some photographers also use them on lasers to create stunning painting with light effects.