Star Filters

Generate photographic excitement with these dazzling star effects created from original point light sources or bright reflections.  The Star effect will become more pronounced with a brighter, larger source.  Filter may be rotated for creative control.

Lighting can be enhanced in ways that go beyond what exists in nature.  Star filters create points of light, like "stars," streaking outward from a central light source.  This can make lighting within the scene take on a more glittering, glamorous appearance.  This effect is produced by a series of thin lines etched into the flat optical surface of a clear filter.  These lines act as cylindrical lenses, diffracting light points into long thin lines of light running perpendicular to the etched lines.  Lines on the filter positioned horizontally produce vertically oriented star lines.

The size and brightness of the star lines produced are first a function of the size, shape, and brightness of the light source.  You have additional control through the choice of a particular spacing between the lines on the filter.  Generally these spacings are measured in millimeters.  A 1mm spacing has twice as many lines per unit area as a 2mm spacing.  It will produce a brighter star for any given source.  Spacings offered generally range from 1mm to 4mm, as well as both narrower and wider for specialty effects.

The number of directions that lines run in determines the number of points produced.  Lines in one direction produce a two-pointed star, just a streak through the center of the light.  There are 4, 6, 8, 12 and more points available.  With an 8 or 12 point filter, the many star lines will tend to overpower the rest of the image, so use them carefully.  Although the more common types have a symmetrical arrangement of points, they can also be obtained with asymmetric patterns, which tend to appear more "natural," less synthetic.  Examples of these latter types are the Tiffen Hollywood Star, Hyper Star, North Star, and Vector Star filters.  They can be used together to create remarkably creative effects.

As with any filter that has a discrete pattern, be sure that depth of field doesn't cause the filter lines to become visible in the image.  Using small apertures, or short focal length lenses make this more likely, as will suing a smaller film format, such as 16mm vs. 35mm given an equal field of view.  Generally, mid-range apertures or larger are sufficient, but test before critical situations.

The Tiffen Company, LLC
90 Oser Avenue, Hauppauge, NY 11788   email:


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No Filter

With 4Point 1mm Star Filter



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With 4 Point 2mm Star No Filter With 6 Point 2mm Star



Hollywood Star Hyper Star North Star Vector Star


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No Filter
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Hollywood Star

             Hyper Star
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North Star

            Vector Star

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