Thanks for the replies. At least I am not the only one who thinks that Soft Focus is pure cheese. (But then again, maybe I am cheesy myself as I am a big fan of 50's and 60's pinups. Just wish I had the means to give it a try).
I will, though, have a look at the Lens Baby soft focus. Sounds interesting.
I've been a portrait enthusiast all my adult life and I bought new more than twenty years ago a now very rare Canon FD 85mm 2.8 SF lens,, and ladies, especially ones of a certain age really appreciate the results I get with this lens, I see so many female portraits these days even of beautiful young girls that are just too bitingly sharp.
I like soft focus potrait but, would never spend that type of money for a purpose built lens when I could just as well look for a pre-WWII camera with a softer lens that today is all but pooh-poohed on by many. I have a bakelite 120 camera I've used and the reuslts are very good. Of course I do not do it professioonally and know if I did and pulled this box out for a shoot, jaws would drop. I've got a couple of soft focus filters with my Bronica but they do not seem to do as well.
Sima used to make a T-mount soft focus lens, essentially a single element in a focusing tube. I have one, and it can create creamy,dreamy landscapes, and of course softens portraits. I use it to shoot slides. I like Gene Smith's technique of shooting without a softening filter and using a stretched black nylon or silk stocking under the enlarging lens to take just a bit of the sharpness out of a print.
The "look" is pure kitsch, so tired, overworked and dated. No one seems to want those "tea strainer" Mamiya 150mm lenses. Suspect those who buy them really don't know what they're getting. Rubber band some Saran wrap over your lens and say "David Hamilton."
Hoffy: "This has got me thinking, has the art of a soft portrait disappeared? So often now days there is so much influence on equipment that can display the most extreme resolution, that I think the Soft Portrait is a thing of the past."..
No not by a long shot. Especially, as mentioned by Paul, in LF soft focus is very popular!
(and SO much fun)
Paul: "Which is probably why people who get the SF bug end up with a lot of different lenses. "
so true. the bug will get you, if you dont take care...
CGW: "Suspect those who buy them really don't know what they're getting. Rubber band some Saran wrap over your lens and say "David Hamilton." "
and where do you get that knowlegde?
wrapping a lens has nothing to do with making soft focus portraits with a dedicated SF lens.
SF photography is hard to do! to get the right soft focus is not that easy.
And as Paul said; there are many very different lenses (in LF) to find. all a little different from the other.
PS: not being english speaking: what does "all cheese " mean (I love cheese, but I suspect this comment isn't that positive (?))
I mostly dislike sharp portraits. I have owned 85 Fujki SF screw mt, RB76 150, 300 mm Imagon for 4x5+,
and 120mm Imagon . I can tell you there is nothing you can hang on the front of a lens that does what a true SF lens does. Tried everything one time or another. Softars come closest.
The 120 is T Mount and it came for Leica R. It is now Nikon F and the only one I still own.
If you work with photoshop, you can get close to some of the effects.
Since it's a look so easily replicated with PS, why bother with a dedicated lens with such limited utility? Nostalgia aside, the 70s SF look is pretty much absent from current fashion and editorial photography. The contemporary digital versions don't bear much resemblance to the old flat look.
Originally Posted by gandolfi
Use a small embroidery hoop to hold the fabric taught. They come as small as 3 inch diameter. The distance between the lens and the stocking determines the amount of diffusion.
Originally Posted by Trask
two problems with this reply:
Originally Posted by CGW
1: limited utility? I have no idea what you mean. If you use a Verito - a cooke portrait - a universal heliar - a velostigmat SF - a Ilex Paragon - an old Dallmeyer, and I could go on, the SF is a choise - your choise.
You can make any type of image you like, and you can alter/change the SF by either changing the aperture, or use the SF mechanism, that is a part of these lenses!!
So the use of these lenses are not limited - rather unlimted, compared to "normal" lenses...
2: "easily replicated with PS"...
well - we're talking analouge photography here, aren't we?
And even if we were not - the true SF (at least in LF) isn't easily replicated. And if it were, then it just look exactely like that: a replica..
(I have never seen a SF picture made in PS that looks right....)