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Thread: Soft Focus Lens...

  1. #1
    rpcrowe's Avatar
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    Soft Focus Lens...

    Has anyone tried a comparison between shooting with a soft-focus lens (such as Canon's 135mm f/2.8 SF) and softening the image using Photoshop and/or shooting with a "normally sharp" lens and using some sort of a softening filter such as the Tiffen Soft/FX

    http://www.tiffen.com/sfxpics.htm

    Or the Tiffen Pro-Mist

    http://www.tiffen.com/promist.htm

    Or the Tiffen Diffusion/FX filters

    http://www.tiffen.com/black__diffusion.htm

    Of course, the advantage of shooting with a "normally sharp" lens and adding the diffusion in post-processing is that you have an unaltered image to work with and can add any degree of diffusion you desire. When shooting with the SF lens and/or diffusion filters; what you shoot is what you get!.

    OTOH... I remember the great difference between shooting a film image using diffusion and diffusing the image when printing. When shooting, the highlights are diffused and when printing, generally it was the darker areas that are diffused.

  2. #2
    wilgk's Avatar
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    Re: Soft Focus Lens...

    Richard I have no experience with either, but am very intrigued by the question, as I really like the look of what I see with some soft focus images....I hope someone has the lens in their arsenal and can answer this..

  3. #3

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    Re: Soft Focus Lens...

    I have a 62 mm soft focus filter (nikon). The images are in focus but softer. I used it with my 60 mm lens and I liked it a lot but I've been trying to send my images to microstock companies and they want "tack sharp" so I haven't done any of that experimental stuff lately. It's especially good for flowers and skin. I don't even know if nikon makes them any more

  4. #4
    rpcrowe's Avatar
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    Re: Soft Focus Lens...

    I splurged and bought the 135mm f/2.8 SF lens. I got it from a friend who was liquidating his entire Canon lens collection. Since he owed me some favors I got the lens for $100 USD. It seems like it is in good shape and he swears that it is. I figured, what the heck, I can always dump it on eBay for a hundred bucks and it might be fun experimenting with. Unfortunately, he had no other lens that I was even remotely interested in. He had sold his 80-200mm f/2.8L for $125 USD. I would have picked up that one too had it been available.

    I have been needing a new equipment fix since I have not purchased anything significant in several years. Perhaps this will scratch my new equipment itch enough that I won't need to buy the 7D that I have been craving. After all - the 7D will satisfy a craving, not an actual need.

  5. #5
    inkista's Avatar
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    Re: Soft Focus Lens...

    He dropped a Magic Drainpipe for $125?! Whoah.... Yeah, I'd've grabbed that one. Those things go in the $700 range. Jeepers.

    I got a BGN 135/2.8 SF from KEH once for about $250 (back when it was closer to $300 new, not the nearly $500 it is now), but it looked like it had fungus on it, so I sent it back without playing with it. Let us know how it shoots! From what I've read, it's pretty sharp without the SF dialed in. My curiousity is what the soft focus looks like when the lens is stopped down and at the 1 setting, rather than the 2--all the samples I see from it are shot wide open with maximum soft focus, and it's a way too much for my tastes.

  6. #6

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    Re: Soft Focus Lens...

    Quote Originally Posted by rpcrowe View Post
    Has anyone tried a comparison between shooting with a soft-focus lens (such as Canon's 135mm f/2.8 SF) and softening the image using Photoshop and/or shooting with a "normally sharp" lens and using some sort of a softening filter such as the Tiffen Soft/FX
    There's a trick that you might try - do your normal corrections in ACR, and then reduce the exposure by around 2 stops. Open in PS, copy layer and apply Gaussian blur - I usually use about 5 pixels - and change the blend mode to Screen. Another one is to reduce "clarity" in ACR. Either/both of these might produce the effect that you're after.

    Quote Originally Posted by rpcrowe View Post
    Of course, the advantage of shooting with a "normally sharp" lens and adding the diffusion in post-processing is that you have an unaltered image to work with and can add any degree of diffusion you desire. When shooting with the SF lens and/or diffusion filters; what you shoot is what you get!.

    OTOH... I remember the great difference between shooting a film image using diffusion and diffusing the image when printing. When shooting, the highlights are diffused and when printing, generally it was the darker areas that are diffused.
    When printing from negative film then yes, you'd spread the shadows into the highlights which never looks too clever. Printing with reversal film and the right filter would give the effect of spreading the highlights into the shadows which works much better. Filter mightn't like the heat, though.

    HTH

    Peter

  7. #7
    rpcrowe's Avatar
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    Re: Soft Focus Lens...

    I am in the middle of several different projects such as remodeling one of our bathrooms which (at least in the mindset of my wife) take priority over my photography. However, the bathroom is just about done. I will give the lens a thorough trial when I have the opportunity.

    There are some very beautiful flower fields about twenty miles from my home
    ( http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attractio...alifornia.html )
    which might make one nice subject for this lens. The fields are beginning to bloom now. It should look somewhat like the French Impressionist painters if I shot the flower fields at various degrees of diffusion.

    Like I said, it will be fun to experiment with a totally new (for me) piece of equipment which incorporates a different technology. IMO, it will be worth a hundred bucks to play with the lens and see what I can do with it...

  8. #8
    inkista's Avatar
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    Re: Soft Focus Lens...

    Man, is it ranunculus time again, already? [checks website] The Canon macro photography workshop is Apr. 17th. IIRC, it's not really so much a workshop as a chance for someone to shill the Canon macro lenses, so you can try them out for free. They might have the MP-E 65mm and 180L if you're lucky. One year I went, hoping they'd have the TS-E 24L, but they didn't.
    Last edited by inkista; 22nd March 2011 at 02:46 AM.

  9. #9
    rpcrowe's Avatar
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    Re: Soft Focus Lens...

    Thanks Kathy... I had forgotten about the Canon Macro Workshop. Thanks for reminding me about it. I missed it last year by mistake and would have missed it again except for your reminder...

  10. #10
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    Re: Soft Focus Lens...

    Quote Originally Posted by proseak View Post
    There's a trick that you might try - do your normal corrections in ACR, and then reduce the exposure by around 2 stops. Open in PS, copy layer and apply Gaussian blur - I usually use about 5 pixels - and change the blend mode to Screen. Another one is to reduce "clarity" in ACR. Either/both of these might produce the effect that you're after.

    HTH

    Peter
    I have used Peter's suggestions on more than a few occasions and I agree they are well worth a try.

    I have also used the noise reduction filter in ARC to soften images. Under the detail button, move the luminance slider all the way to 100 on the right. By moving the luminance detail slider to the left, you can soften your image from a subtle softness to something more obvious.

    Mike

  11. #11
    inkista's Avatar
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    Re: Soft Focus Lens...

    Hey thanks for reminding me about the Flower Fields! I missed 'em completely last year.

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