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Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by stradibarrius, May 17, 2010.
Who has experience with this soft focus lens and what do you think?
I've used one - and loved it - great for soft focus with the discs, and sharp lens when used normally...
I use one on my RZ in preference to the RZ 180 SF lens as I like the shorter focal length for portraiture and it's also nearly 200g lighter. It's not sharp until f8 because Mamiya has built in a degree of aberration to soften the image even without the diffusion discs.
However, I have to declare my preference for Mamiya's superb 6x4.5 soft focus lens (if only they made something similar for the 6x7 format) as this uses floating elements to create the varying softening effects - but always leaving the very centre of the image sharp. That solution is of course incredibly costly to manufacture and produces a very heavy lens. As for the 150 and 180 soft lenses for the Mamiya 67s, I'm never comfortable with having to unscrew the front elements to add the discs. It's not happened yet but I'm always nervous about foreign bodies getting into the lens space between the front and rear element housings as well as the risk of cross-threading in a moment of panic or loss of concentration.
One thing I can assure you - the RB67 150 SF lens can deliver excellent images - enjoy it.
You need the manual that came with the lens - the lens is normal at f/8 and smaller, the soft focus is obtained by opening it up wider, if it is too soft opened up then the discs reduce the degree of softness.
I have a card with the lens, as a aide memoire, or use the pola back.
If you ever get a chance, the Rodenstock Imagon SF 200mm lens for the Mamiya RB-67 is an amazing beast. I had never seen one till I bought one and since I bought one, will never go back to the Mamiya SF 150mm.
I'm not inclined to panic, this lens lends itself more to contemplative shooting but I know exactly what you mean: it's unnerving to pull a lens apart and reassemble it in the field. especially when you have cross threaded the odd device in past lives.
I'm not a portrait photographer, but I have found this lens impressive with close up subjects at its spherical aberration wide aperture settings
With the right subject and lighting--usually moderately contrasty subject brightness levels--a hard to do otherwise "glow" (or fuzziness around the highlights, to be mundane) can be obtained.
Regards - Ross
You're quite right about using the designed aberration in bright light with medium contrast objects - the resulting photos can be quite 'other-wordly'. I think that's often the fun in using special effects lenses in ways that are unconventional given their true purposes.
Wearing my 35mm hat, I used to create some very odd images with the Zeiss PC-Shift and some Softars - fun days....
I like it. It is also a very good all 'round performer at small apertures, i.e. beyond the apertures for which the discs have effect.
I also recommend the Imagon, if you can find the lens with an adapter. The disks with this lens slip on the front so you don't have to worry about pulling the lens apart. The longer focal length could be more difficult to work with, though.
If , for example, you were taking a portrait and wanted the eyes to be sharp and then blend to the softness would the disc be the way to accomplish this???
No, not really.
The disks are there to "stop down" if needed while retaining the soft effect. Using the aperture blades to stop down reduces the soft effect much more and by f8 it's gone and the lens works like a normal sharp focus lens.
Knowing that the disks preserve the effect as much as possible and that the aperture blades diminish the effect can help you control the end result for a given shot.
I bought myself a rangefinder screen to focus with and that helped me a bunch to help get the eyes sharp because it is tougher to focus.