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Clear center filters

Circular diffuser and center spot filters

The center spot is clear and the surroundings are blurred with this special effect filter.
The center spot is clear and the surroundings are blurred with this special effect filter.


There is a filter created ostensibly for the purpose of retaining bright, sharp eyes while diffusing other facial components. It is called the circular diffuser, and has concentric, circular lines like ripples in a pond when a pebble is dropped in the water. This filter may also be called a "concentric ring softener".

The center is clear, and must be lined up with the subject’s eyes in order for the filter to do its job, which is to keep the eyes clear while diffusing the surroundings. The necessary alignment is (a) not always easy and (b) not always desirable for the best image composition. But, when used as intended, the eyes are sharp and clear, and the rest of the image is diffused.


A center spot or center-focus filter is one that has a clear circular opening in its center that is surrounded by an area that is lightly-ground, blurring the peripheral area. The central portion may in fact be a hole in the filter - drilled out for maximum clarity.

There is little difference between this filter and the circular diffuser, since both have clear centers and rely upon the center of interest being in the center of the viewframe so it is not diffused. Each filter, however, has a different look in the diffused areas.

You can make these particular filters work effectively for you, depending on the subject. Most portrait photographers prefer to take their chances with other diffusion methods rather than having to center the subject - especially a subject’s eyes - in the viewframe for the filter to work. It's a question of good portrait composition.

However, when the center of interest of your pictures is placed in the middle of the viewframe, either of these filters will work for you to diffuse only the surroundings.

Further information...

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Creative use of filters