Chocolate filters aren’t new, but they’re certainly not talked about. Is there something more to them?
In lieu of a warming filter, or messing around with your white balance, a chocolate filter can bring a sense of warmth without overdoing it. As Kummerfeldt describes it here, it’s adding brown tones. I’ve seen them being used in the past and personally love how the midtones don’t get washed out in an orange haze. For paler skin tones like mine, it can bring life back to skin tones without looking like a false tan.
I’m especially intrigued by how Cinestill’s 800T looks. Kummerfeldt is only shooting with a “Chocolate 1” filter, and it’s a pretty subtle effect. However, it completely changes the tungsten film’s look. I do wonder how it would look outside of the sunny hills in Los Angeles though. I’m not sure I’d recommend shooting this way in every situation, as an overcast sky might cool things down too much.
Robert K Baggs wrote a brilliant article about how pulling blue out of your shot can elevate it. Blue can muddy an image and take focus away from the subject. Kummerfeldt is after a certain muted tone, akin to Dune. He wants to pull the blues out of the shot, and not necessarily replace it with orange. Perhaps the chocolate filter is a handy tool to have nearby then.
The chocolate filter isn’t cheap. I’m not sure I’ve seen it available from any rental houses either. So if I’m going to try it out, I need to find a reason. Tiffen's Antique Suede can be a workable alternative here and may be easier to get a hold of. If you’re looking up your filter game, Alex Armitage just did a great write-up on filters for landscape photography that might help readers wrap their heads around it all.