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Special Effect Filters: Multivision, Close-Up, Sepia & Infrared


Fed up with boring, mundane camera filters? Well, no more! Today we're introducing you to a selection of unusual and interesting filters that can really spice up your photography. These are accessories you'll want to use every day, but they can add a really interesting element and give you some inspiration when you're feeling a little tired of your existing kit.

What Is a Special Effect Filter?

Special effects filters come in all different shapes and sizes, for all different crazy and often wacky purposes. In this article we look at a few of the special effect filters currently on the market including multivision, IR and close-up.

Different companies place filters under different headings, for example Cokin don't class a multivision filter as special effect but instead as an "optical effect".

special effect filters sepia infrared

Multivision Filters

A multivision filter helps create exotic, fantastic compositions of color patterns and combinations. It does this by creating multi visions of the subject (without the use of alcohol!). There are various types of multivision filter, some chop the image up in straight lines, others into unusual hexagon shapes.

You can also buy multivision filters pre-coloured to give you photos a very wacky and bizzare look. If you are serious about buying a multivison filter, then I would suggest purchasing from Hoya as they currently produce the best quality filters for the cheapest price.

special effect filters sepia infrared

Image courtesy of Jez B

Close-Up Filters

If you cannot afford to purchase a macro lens, then a close up filter might be for you. A close up filter decreases the minimum distance between the lens and the object, allowing you to get closer to your subject. This is very helpful if you currently use a telephoto lens, as you often have to stand a good metre and a half back from the subject!

The strength of close-up filters are measured in diopters. Common close up filters range between +1 to +10, with 10 being the strongest.

Disadvantages of close-up filters:

  • They do very little on lenses with a magnification smaller than 80mm.
  • Often cost more than extension tubes
  • Difficult to purchases close up filters for a thread size of 77mm or more.
  • If you need more than two filters you might as well buy a macro lens (the cost will be the same on high quality filters).

Filters I would recommend include:

special effect filters sepia infrared

Image courtesy of Anderson Mancini

Sepia Filters

Sepia is that dark brown-grey colour we all know and love, named after the colour ink the sepia cuttlefish produces. All a sepia filter does is simply take your photo and make it this colour.

In the pre-digital age, the best way to achieve this effect was using a filter or using special chemicals to tone the photograph (the process is very similar to split toning).

Nowadays the effect is still often extremely desired and some cameras have a sepia mode built into them. Alternatively it is easy to create the colours in Photoshop but often time consuming compared to the ease of the filter.

The filter pictured below is the COKIN SEPIA A005 Square Filter currently at $15, although this needs the A type holder supplied by Cokin.

special effect filters sepia infrared

Images courtesy of Sizuken and scalespeeder

Infrared Filters

An infrared filter allows you to capture infrared light. This light is not normally visible to the human eye, and images shot in infrared do have an amazing look to them.

The filter blocks most of the visible light we are able to see and only allows the infrared light to pass through. Due to the amount of light coming through the filter you will need to use a tripod and turn up the exposure.

Filters I would recommend:

special effect filters sepia infrared

Image courtesy of Josh Fields

Viewfinder Photography

I'm not sure if this really counts as a filter, but its a pretty awesome form of photography. Simply take your SLR camera and then shoot the image through a viewfinder of another camera. An old film camera often works best.

Its cheap and easy to do. The hardest part is simply lining up the cameras together, in which case you might find that using a tripod to balance one of the cameras is a good idea.

If you don't have a spare camera laying around you could simply purchase a disposable camera with a decent viewfinder!

special effect filters sepia infrared

Image courtesy of Understatement Jo

Stay Tuned for Part 2!

In the second part of this article we will cover some more wacky and bizarre filters. We would also love to see your photos if you have shot with any of the filters mentioned, so feel free to post them below!

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