Personally I'd suggest that your assumption is flawed, to me those characteristics are not downgrades, just choices.
Quality, from an artist's perspective, is defined by their intent for their work and what they want to express.
In commercial portrait photography one of the big problems the industry has been grappling with for well over a hundred years is that most lenses and films are way too darn good at showing every bloody wrinkle and blemish. When photos are too honest about the sitter, the sitter won't buy them. Commercial portrait photography isn't about portraying what's normal, it's generally about showing an idealized version of the sitter(s)/buyer(s).
That fact was a huge part of the motivation for the creation of soft focus lenses as was Pictorialist style photography in general. Using soft focus lenses or short DOF or lens tilts in a studio are just an artists choice in an effort to get a given result.
The f64/West Coast style simply skews the meter the other way toward hyper reality where everything in the scene is sharp and contrasty. Think "Clearing Winter Storm" or "Moonrise" by Adams. I've lived in the mountains in California and Colorado long enough and been through Yosemite and Hernandez enough to know that Adams idealized these scenes at least a little . Again though, that's just a choice by the artist, it isn't intrinsically right or wrong, good or bad; it just "is".