a cheap and easy way to experiment with softer lenses
is to buy an old junk folder. sometimes they have a
single cell / meniscus lens and you could just put that on a
lens board and enjoy yourself.
i have a few lenses like that and i use them
once in a while. you can also use them ( as people used to use the verito &al. )
as an enlarging lens as well. you can get a nice image from a regular old negative that way too.