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  1. #21
    CGW
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    Quote Originally Posted by gandolfi View Post
    two problems with this reply:

    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....)
    Whatever. SF lenses are really one trick ponies. The images have a stale look however rendered or manipulated that's worn out its welcome.
    Maybe the look will come back sometime but for now the PS versions trump in camera versions for photo editors.

  2. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by CGW View Post
    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.
    I too disagree with the "limited utility" aspect of soft focus lenses. A normal everyday "perfect" lens will be sharp all the time, and the only thing you can control with the lens is focus and to some extend depth of field. That's limited utility.

    Put an old SF lens on a 4x5 camera. You can get way soft wide open to potentially normal looking results as you stop down (depending on the lens, but this is a pretty common outcome). Every f stop is going to have different softness for different subjects depending on the detail being photographed. Every f stop will have different contrast results too. Consider it more like having photoshop built into the lens. And you can also adjust focus and DOF like normal lenses. Furthermore some of the soft focus lenses have dedicated softness adjustments separate from the aperture, and others have the imagon strainers for additional options.

    I am interest in SF (and doing things in the camera in traditional ways) because it's the real thing and the original method. Just as people pay more than their house is worth for a shelby ac cobra compared to a modern recreation @ 1/10 the price, people will also continue to like making photographs using original means, even if it's a little more work.

    Soft focus has enthusiasts who have differentiated between what is kitsch and what is authentic and inspiring regarding styles. Examples regarding soft focus on modern commercial portraits to disguise zits and wrinkles is the kitsch they don't get enthused about. The authentic era of soft focus was 80-100 years ago.
    Last edited by jp498; 10-22-2010 at 12:59 PM. Click to view previous post history.

  3. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by jp498 View Post
    A normal everyday "perfect" lens will be sharp all the time, and the only thing you can control with the lens is focus and to some extend depth of field. That's limited utility.

  4. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by gandolfi View Post
    PS: not being english speaking: what does "all cheese " mean (I love cheese, but I suspect this comment isn't that positive (?))
    Cheese and cheesy (with respect to art) are adjectives very similar to camp and campy, but without the potential homosexual meanings some people apply to camp/campy. With respect to physical construction, cheesy is a negative term implying a poor quality of construction/design, such as something meant for disposable mass consumption rather than for ruggedness.

  5. #25
    CGW
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    Quote Originally Posted by jp498 View Post
    Cheese and cheesy (with respect to art) are adjectives very similar to camp and campy, but without the potential homosexual meanings some people apply to camp/campy. With respect to physical construction, cheesy is a negative term implying a poor quality of construction/design, such as something meant for disposable mass consumption rather than for ruggedness.
    Kitsch and kitschy work, too, to denote a low-brow or tasteless quality.

  6. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by CGW View Post
    Whatever. SF lenses are really one trick ponies. The images have a stale look however rendered or manipulated that's worn out its welcome.
    Maybe the look will come back sometime but for now the PS versions trump in camera versions for photo editors.
    Whatever? that's a nice reply.

    I forgot to say in my previous post that in many of the dedicated SF lenses you can make the choise of making a tack sharp image. OR a soft one - the amount of softness is also your choise. (hardly a one trick pony).



    I respect your dislike in SF images. But stating that they has worn out their welcome is hardly right...your welcome maybe.

    you said earlier: "Suspect those who buy them really don't know what they're getting."..

    I suspect you don't really know about SF lenses, but you don't like the SF look(s), (which is fine by me)

  7. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by CGW View Post
    Whatever. SF lenses are really one trick ponies. The images have a stale look however rendered or manipulated that's worn out its welcome.
    Maybe the look will come back sometime but for now the PS versions trump in camera versions for photo editors.
    This couldn't be further from the truth. What's stale are are the canned photoshop effects you seem to think are better than the real thing. Original organic effects created in camera and by the process can be (poorly) imitated in Photoshop, but not duplicated. Photo editors like strong images, they don't necessarily care how they were created. Perhaps Sally Mann should have used photoshop and saved herself a lot of trouble.

    Your experience sounds like it doesn't go beyond the 70's and cokin soft filters. The effects of large format soft focus lenses are complex and variable as gandolfi mentioned--nothing like one-dimensional photoshop tricks. These lenses were made between the late 19th and mid 20th centuries and their prices have been skyrocketing as photographers rediscover them.

  8. #28
    CGW
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    Quote Originally Posted by Barry S View Post
    This couldn't be further from the truth. What's stale are are the canned photoshop effects you seem to think are better than the real thing. Original organic effects created in camera and by the process can be (poorly) imitated in Photoshop, but not duplicated. Photo editors like strong images, they don't necessarily care how they were created. Perhaps Sally Mann should have used photoshop and saved herself a lot of trouble.

    Your experience sounds like it doesn't go beyond the 70's and cokin soft filters. The effects of large format soft focus lenses are complex and variable as gandolfi mentioned--nothing like one-dimensional photoshop tricks. These lenses were made between the late 19th and mid 20th centuries and their prices have been skyrocketing as photographers rediscover them.
    For starters, we're not talking about Sally Mann--a personal favorite--whose work isn't on the table.To tarbrush PS "effects" as bogus or "canned" simply implies you know less than most about what someone like Pascal Dangin does. His fashion work isn't one-dimensional or trite.

    The OP brought up the issue of SF portraiture,its long gone heyday in the 70s, and why it passed in favor of hyper-sharpness. I see greater inventiveness and creative latitude made possible by PS in capable hands than was ever enabled by a lens alone--whatever the format. I love analog capture but it's often only the first step to a final image for me.

  9. #29
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    We're not debating the utility of photoshop--but it's ability to displace the effect of lens and process. This thread expanded beyond the misguided notion that the 70's was the pinnacle of "soft-focus" photography. You can use a soft focus lens or photoshop to turn out kitsch, but your dismissive tone to gandolfi's points seems to ignore both Pictorialism and the facts on the ground regarding soft focus lenses.

  10. #30

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    There's one element I'd like to add to this discussion. It's format size and its relationship to soft focus images.
    Frankly, I don't think 35mm soft focus photographs can approach the quality of a large format soft focus print.
    A 35mm soft focus print will still have sharp focus grain. To blur the grain pattern requires the picture itself to be blurred and there is a world of difference between soft focus and out-of-focus.
    This sharp grain/soft image creates, I think, a discordant image. The viewer is confronted with seeing a soft focus image and simultaneously a sharp grain pattern.

    Dave

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