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.
Originally Posted by CGW
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.