View Full Version : What he heck is this?

e. a. smith
13-Feb-2010, 11:38
A friend gave me a Kodak viewing filter which I thought would be the Wratten 90 that renders the scene in monotone.

This one seems to be an ND filter. It removes a whole bunch of light from the scene but the colours come through.

The device is a one inch round filter mounted in a light metal ring with handle and neck cord.

One side is labeled "Viewing Filter" and the other one labeled "Compliments of the Eastman Company"

I've rotated as I look through it and nothing seems to change. It is dark grey and seems to add a little purple to the scene.

Anyone have any thoughts as to what the purpose of this filter is?


E.A. Smith

Mark Woods
13-Feb-2010, 11:46
Hello EA,

I have a number of these in different densities. I'm sure they can be used for stills, but generally they're seen around the necks of Cinematographers and Gaffers (Chief Lighting Technician). The different filters are used for determining the contrast of a scene by eye. The different densities are for different film speeds and for color v/s B&W. The most dense ones are used by the Gaffer or Best Boy to aim lights, make sure arcs are in correct alignment (in the past), look at the sun when it's cloudy to determine when and how long the sun will be out for a shot, etc. I have one that I've used for 30 years. There are also blue and green ones for chroma key mattes, but that's another story completely.

Jim Noel
13-Feb-2010, 13:49
I have one of these along with several other viewing filters. it is an early Panchromatic viewing filter. It is not as dense as some but works perfectly if you don't stare through it. These, and other viewing filters are to be used quickly before the eye gets used to the reduced light.

Robert Hughes
16-Feb-2010, 08:08
The idea of a contrast viewing filter is not that it renders a black and white image, but it cuts the light level down to the point where your eyes' black and white receptors (which are more sensitive to contrast) predominate. You still can make out color, but its influence is lessened, and you can concentrate on contrast more easily.

Brian Ellis
16-Feb-2010, 09:04
If this is similar to the viewing filter that Zone VI studios used to sell, it isn't very useful with color. It's mainly for use with black and white film and its purpose isn't to render the scene in b&w, it's to show you how colors in the scene will merge (and therefore what filter you might want to use to minimize the merger). You don't just hold it up to your eye and look through it. You flick it back and forth quickly in front of your eye a few times. It works o.k. but after a little experience with b&w film you don't need a filter to tell you when colors will merge or what other filter to use to minimize the merger. E.g. if I see a red apple on green foliage I know that without using a red or green filter the two colors will tend to merge and the apple won't stand out from the foliage in a b&w print.

If this isn't the same thing sold by Zone VI Studios (which IIRC was kind of an amber color) ignore this useless message.