Use a Diffusion Filter to Create Dreamy Glamorous Photos

Here are some of the topics about how to create dreamy glamourous photos using filters to diffuse light.

1. Introduction

In my previous post, I discussed shooting dreamy portraits using vintage lenses, but this time I’ll talk about shooting photos with the diffusion filter to create dreamy images. Using diffusion filters for portraiture photography has been popular since the film photography era and the trend is back getting popular now.

A diffusion filter helps create a dreamy, glamorous photo with a glowing effect. Popular filters include the soft lighting “beauty” look, the long-exposure sunset look, and the nostalgic feeling of black and white.

The type of diffusion filter you use depends on the type of lens you are using. For example, if you are using a lens with a 52mm filter thread size, then it would be best to use a diffuser with 52mm size or larger than the opening of the lens. This will prevent the smaller size filter from blocking your lens or vignetting when using the filter.

Diffusion filters are available in different sizes. So you can buy one that fits your filter size to create the best results. Always check your lens filter thread size before purchasing a lens filter.

There are many diffusion filter top brands out there including Tiffen company’s Black Pro-Mist, K&F Black Mist, and Moment Cinebloom which produces great quality diffusion filters. If you have a set budget to spend on a lens filter, then I would suggest a good quality product from the top brands.

2. What Are Diffusion Filters Used for?

Diffusion filters are used to soften the effect of harsh light sources. Diffusion filters are different from polarizers as these are mainly used for making pictures with vivid colours, whereas diffusion filters are mainly used to make pictures with natural light.

It is popularly used in videography to create a cinematic look and also for portrait photography.

For cinematography, diffusion filters are used to make the film look more natural. So sometimes you will see things like children’s faces looking brighter because of the diffusion filter. In short, they give a more dreamy feel to your shot and enhance the overall mood of your image.

Especially during golden hour when the lighting condition is very favourable and lights that come from behind tends to appear harsh, the filters can be a great help in order to balance it out by creating some colour separation between lights and shadows and adding some smoothness and softness.

Since the great thing about these filters is that they are used in so many different ways, you might not even need to buy diffusion filters every time you want to shoot something.

When shooting portraits, this filter can be used to create haze, soften images and smoothen the skin tones. The soft and glowy effect also helps by softening wrinkles and reducing blemishes.

Many photographers use these special-effects filters as a softening technique to create dreamy looks and are perfect for indoor and outdoor portraits, wedding photoshoots, and street photography.

3. 4 Best diffusion filters and low contrast filters

Cinebloom Filter
Photo credit: Moment

There are several best diffusion lens filters in the market that you can try including Tiffen Pro-Mist, K&F Black Mist, Prism Lens FX Dream Filter, and Moment Cinebloom diffusion filters. Most diffusion filters in the market come with different intensities and filter sizes.

And you can use the filters to shoot portrait, landscape and product photography. The stronger and larger size will allow for more flexibility and help you achieve better results in different lighting conditions and scenarios.

Most of the filters are easy to use and can be used to create unique retro or vintage looks. You can find other popular diffusion filter lenses that we have covered below:

Moment Cinebloom

Moment Cinebloom diffusion filter, another popular diffusion filter lens offers a subtle softness to your still image and video. It also comes with a matte finish and makes the image appear less sharp and crisp. This filter comes in a 10% and 20% density.

Tiffen Black Pro-Mist

Tiffen Black Pro-Mist Diffusion Filter which is one of the most popular diffusion filter lens manufacturers in the industry offers various filters with different sizes and intensities. These lenses are great for both softening your images as well as adding a matte finish to your photos.

It is ideal for street photography as well as outdoor portraiture. It also makes retouching on editing software a lot easier.

K&F Nano-X Black Mist

The K&F Nano-X Black Mist Diffusion offers an incredible diffusion effect that makes your image appear dreamy and soft. Although it is not much of a noticeable difference in terms of colour balance when compared to the standard lens, it still does provide an atmospheric look.

It is the perfect lens filter for portraits where you want to focus on your subject while adding a soft touch to your image.

Prism Lens FX – Dream FX Filters

Prism’s lens filters have been the choice of film professionals for years. The Dream FX Filters on offer by Prism are some of the most popular and best-selling lens filters on the market, providing a unique effect on your photos.

4. What Camera Can I Use With Diffusion Filter

What’s good about the diffusion filter is it can be used on film cameras and modern mirrorless digital cameras, DSLR and even mobile phones. It can be used with all standard lens filters on a wide variety of cameras including Sony, Fujifilm, Nikon, Olympus, Canon, Yashica, Minolta and so on.

Just make sure to choose the correct filter size for your lens.

Portraits With K&F Diffusion Filter


It’s also worth noting that diffusion filters can be added to the glass elements of the lens itself. However, this may reduce light transmission due to the glass effect. If you are using a digital camera, make sure to use the filter size designated for your camera.

If your camera is not listed here, it doesn’t mean it can’t be used with this filter, it just means that you don’t know the actual filter sizes, or that the filter won’t work correctly.

You can get more amazing photos if you use a film camera with the diffusion filter. You will be able to create a retro mood that you can never imagine.

5. How do you use a diffusion filter?

On normal lenses, the filter is screwed into the front lens element and is recommended you use the same thread for this filter too. Make sure to check on the lens to find out what is the filter screw thread size. It can easily be done by finding the symbol at the front of the lens.

I normally use the diffusion filter during my outdoor portrait photoshoot whenever there is someone who wants to book a photoshoot near me, I will have the filter hooked on my portrait lens all the time.

I love to use the backlight technique to make use of the diffusion filter. By using the backlight technique, the filter creates a halo around the subject, haze and make the subject glow while it softens shadows and softens skins while maintaining crisp on the still images.

Diffusion Filter Backlight Portrait
The best time to shoot using a diffusion filter is during the golden hours either sunrise or sunset for the best light. The subject will look natural and has a dreamy glamourous, elegant glow. So, it is ideal to use when I do my portrait shoot.

If you’re looking into posing for your subjects, read my Best Portrait Poses For Female & Male guide.

On occasions, I also like to use the filter for my street photography when there is someone that I really want to shoot with. I also used it on my Fujifilm X-T4 along with the Fujifilm recipes such as the Classy Glow I’ve created for portraits and streets custom film recipes.

I like the straight out camera results I’ve taken from my X-T4, my images are fine sharp, soften smaller blemishes and create hazy yet dreamy vintage images. If you are a Fujifilm fan, you might like the best portrait film simulations that you can use during your shoots.

I haven’t done any landscape photography with a diffusion filter so I don’t really know if it will work. Feel free to share your experience in the comment below if you have used it to shoot landscapes before.

6. What Diffusion Filters Do I Use?

I used the K&F Nano-X Diffusion 1/8 filter whenever I go out for a shoot. I’ll have it on my lens all the time because I really like the soft effects it created. I might consider getting a stronger density filter. The filter can be purchased at camera shops or online via Amazon US, e-Bay, Shopee, and Lazada.

Some filters can be expensive, if you are planning to invest in a diffusion filter, you can buy Moment Cinebloom filters, Tiffen Black Pro-Mist or for a more affordable and cheaper price, get the K&F Diffusion filter.

I found K&F filter is good enough for my photoshoot use.

7. Final Thoughts

At first, I was hesitant to get a Black Mist filter because it could potentially ruin the image, but after using it, all the photos are absolutely amazing and my clients love it so much.

Shooting with a diffusion filter is fun, it’ll enhance your images by creating a softer feeling, dreamy glamourous images and glows on the highlights. Check out my latest Fujifilm film simulation recipes for street portraits and find out how I use it to create creative photography.

Every photographer has their own shooting style while I have my own style, do check out some of the basic portrait camera settings for Fujifilm that I’ve used during my photoshoot sessions.

If you want to get used to the full potential of the diffusion filters, shoot using the backlight technique, your clients, friends or family definitely will love it. Go out and shoot with a diffusion filter, maybe you’d love it! Want to have a photoshoot with me? DM me on Instagram.

If you like the post, feel free to share it. Till the next time, have a great day guys!

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