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06-04-2014, 07:00 PM   #16
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QuoteOriginally posted by pid Quote
would you like to show some pictures of that shooting? Would like to see them.
Here's some misc. shots. Because the camera does not record aperture, I'm not sure of the aperture. Most are probably either f4.7 or f5.6:









06-04-2014, 07:19 PM   #17
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If you don't see a difference in the images an its quicker in software than with a lens than theres nothing more to be said.


I am however having difficulty understanding why using a soft focus lens takes any time for you.


In my own case I fix the lens on the camera point it at a subject focus it and press the shutter button. Its no different to taken an image with any other lens. Theres no set up time no fiddling no adjusting I just take a picture, and out comes a beautiful image.


After all its not an effect, its simply what the lens does on its own quite naturally and effortlessly. Even one second spent in software adjusting the image adding soft focus is extra additional time that I don't have to spend when I use my soft focus lens.


But each to his own.
06-05-2014, 06:23 AM   #18
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QuoteOriginally posted by Imageman Quote
If you don't see a difference in the images an its quicker in software than with a lens than theres nothing more to be said.
I am however having difficulty understanding why using a soft focus lens takes any time for you.
In my own case I fix the lens on the camera point it at a subject focus it and press the shutter button. Its no different to taken an image with any other lens. Theres no set up time no fiddling no adjusting I just take a picture, and out comes a beautiful image.
After all its not an effect, its simply what the lens does on its own quite naturally and effortlessly. Even one second spent in software adjusting the image adding soft focus is extra additional time that I don't have to spend when I use my soft focus lens.
But each to his own.
I agree. You and I may just have different philosophies and/or workflows.
I do want to add that those are beautiful pictures you're taking with those lenses.
Its clear that what you're doing is working for you.
06-06-2014, 07:53 PM   #19
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QuoteOriginally posted by Imageman Quote
...................
I had assumed that doublets would have continued to be a significant part of early photographic lens choices, and searched for information about the use of these designs, but found nothing. So im very interested in your comments that doublet lenses were used to create soft focus images.
..................
I have found that the triplets produced in large numbers a few of which I am privileged to own do deliver beautiful soft focus images with typical soft focus "glow".


Have a look at the Steinhill Munchen 50, the Shacht Travenar 50, and the Meyer Domiplan.


As im sure your must be aware cooke triplets must have a correctly aligned rear element or the lens is a dog and the traditional cooke triplet carries external adjustment screws for this very purpose, the domiplan and steinheil often show this characteristic of misaligned rear element. That's why the domiplan is usually condemned as very poor lens. Im convinced that in almost every case the domiplan simply need re calibrating, or the photographer is expecting a razor sharp image but is looking at a soft focus image and is unaware of it.


I know the steinheil carries the external adjustment screws to adjust and calibrate the rear element, the Schacht does not. I haven't had the opportunity to examine the domiplan.
.............................
I agree with you, triplets very often have a very nice "signature", especially wide-open (or stopped down very little).
I also agree with the notion that old triplets can be affected (very badly!) by improper remounting (after cleaning) or other "incidents" which altered the specs of the lens.
The Cooke triplet is probably the most "sensible" optical project. A slight alteration which makes almost no difference in a Tessar (or in a old, simple tele design), would introduce plenty of aberrations in a Cooke design!
Usually it's not "misalignment", if the lens wasn't banged against a hard rock, or wasn't reassembled by a madman, that's seldom the problem.
More often it's a matter of "spacing" (i.e. distance between the optical elements). Some lenses had a LONG life, and where dismantled more than once... forgetting a spacer ring, or not screwing home a retention ring (for example because the thread is oxidized) is more than enough to dramatically change the behavior of a lens.
One caveat thought:
a conventional triplet optimized for sharp rendition (that is, 99% of the triplet production) is NOT a soft focus lens!
Changing the spacing of the elements, unscrewing either the front or the back glass, COULD change the character of the lens, under-correcting the spherical aberration, but it's not the only thing that's changed!
Focal length is changed for sure, and possibly other aberration are introduced.
The super famous Cooke Portrait lenses were made with an adjustment device on the barrel, which allowed to change the character of the lens from sharp to soft, and the other gradations in-between.
Most photographer, even those who are very informed about lenses used in digital and 35mm photography, don't know that much about "true" soft-focus lenses, cause the vast majority of them were made for large format (or even ultra large format).
Even for medium format there were VERY few available lenses, cause the 99% of vintage soft-focus lenses were made with no focusing barrel!!
The shorter focals often had a conventional leaf shutter, while the longer focals had a simple barrel, and were used with an accessory pneumatic shutter, or a lens cap/hat.
For medium format i have seen Imagons mounted on the Zork focusing barrel, or old soft-focus lenses in barrel adjusted on a medium format bodies with focusing bellows and focal-plane shutter (like old Zenza Bronica or Rollei cameras, IIRC).
Conventional triplets made for 35mm cameras are not truly soft focus, most of the times they just have a slightly under-corrected spherical aberration, hence the hint of halation with the diaphragm wide-open, and the beautiful "triplet bokeh".
Unfortunately a 50mm is too short a focal to have a really thin DOF.
Standard 300mm triplets (which were the "normal" lens for 8x10 inches sheet film) have a wonderful separation of planes. Wide open, the ear is out of focus, if you focus on the pupil.
Depth of focus have an inverse relation with the absolute focal length, not the relative one. That means a simple thing: a 300mm on digital has the same DOF of a 300m on 8x10". It's not dependent on the size of the film/sensor, even if the same focal is a normal lens for the bigger format, and a very long tele for the smaller one.
So i have a simple advice. If you want to exploit the "soft side" of a generic triplet lens, better look for a somewhat longer focal.
You mentioned Steinheil...well, there is the wonderful Trioplan.
They are already not exactly super-cheap, but those made for the smaller format are definitely affordable.
There are examples with focusing barrel, with the "V" or "VL" engraving (which means coated), which should be well worth experimenting with.
Other Trioplans can be expensive (like the longer focals for large format) or VERY expensive (like the 260mm soft-focus, with the "soft ring" which adjust the spacing of the laments).

If some pentaxian has the will, and the determination, to experiment with "true" soft lens, all that's needed is a bellows, and a friend who owns a lathe (and knows how to cut threads and make adapter rings).
With some luck, a combination of chinese step-down/step-up rings, and a M42-to-PK adapter, could be enough.
Not many soft-focus objectives are available in a FL short enough to be usable in APS-C format, but with some patience there are some.
I have just seen on Ebay a 200mm Imagon mounted on a Novoflex LEINO tube. To use it with a Pentax digital body, you'd need just a M42 bellows (to focus the lens), and a LTM-to-M42 ring (to mount the LEINO on the M42 thread of the bellows).
There are shorter Imagons, but they are not so common, and there is the Fujinon SF 180mm, which was made in shutter and in barrel, IIRC.
Both optics use those weird "tea strainer" rings (the Imagon in front of the lens, the Fujinon behind the front glass), which are used to control the amount of light rays coming from the periphery of the front glass.
The rays passing through the lens axis are super-sharp, the rays coming from the borders are very affected by spherical aberration (soft). The use of different "tea strainers" irises allows to control the amount of halation superimposed on the sharp layer of the image.
I am not a post-production expert (i am a network administrator and an hardware expert, not a graphic!), but i am quite sure about it: there is NO filter which gets close to that rendition.
I'm not even sure that the best software solutions can equal a simple Zeiss Softar filter!
Probably with a more structured software-only approach, using different tools and with a very good knowledge of the intricacies of Photoshop, a very good result could be achieved.
I've seen incredible things made with bitmap graphic software (Photoshop or similar programs), but i've also seen with my own eyes the amount of time and of graphic wizardry needed to achieve those results...
The use of a single plugin, not matter how good, can't get you remotely close to that kind of quality. It's not just mixing a sharp layer with an halation layer, you got to reproduce the smooth shift between out-of-focus and in-focus planes, and reduce the DOF to almost nothing.
The advocates of the software-only solution should take a look at the pictures made by the neo-pictorialists, and to the portraits of Hollywood stars and starlets made during the twenties.
Most of the times the proper soft-focus lenses were used with some restrain, stopping down a little to reduce the amount of softness and allowing to easily "read" the facial features of the actress, but at the same time keeping the right amount of "glow".

For those interested in a low-cost approach, there are a few good choices.
One example: adapt to your bellows the simple meniscus used in the very common Kodak Vest Pocket (which is still very cheap on Ebay), paying attention to uncork the lens (i.e. removing the front stop).
An even cheaper solution: use a diopter lens (better if it's an achromatic doublet made of two cemented elements); if you can find a filter with +8 engraved on its mount, it's a 125mm lens.

Of course there are other medium format soft-focus lenses, produced by other makers, which can be easily used with the right adapter (if it's one of those made by the chinese, and easily available on Ebay, the expense should be very low).


I'm back at home now, and i have the 120mm at hand. Unfortunately i don't have the adapter for P67 lenses here, so it will take some time to have it tested on digital bodies.
I hope i'll get the 85mm f/2.2 in a week or so. I will test it as soon as possible, cause i'm very curious about its performance with digital sensors.
It's a kind of lens which should work well with digital, the only concern that came to my mind is the possible presence of a lighter "spot" at the center of the image. Some lenses of similar FL, originally made for analog cameras, show that kind of problem, due to inter-reflections between the sensor surface and the rear glass. SMC lenses shouldn't be prone to that kind of problem, though.

Wow, i've made a loong post... time to stop
I hope at least i've given a couple of worthy suggestions.

ciao

P


Last edited by cyberjunkie; 06-06-2014 at 08:46 PM.
08-04-2014, 07:40 PM   #20
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QuoteOriginally posted by cyberjunkie Quote
It makes sense.
I've read the manual of the old 85mm f/2.2 MF. Pentax suggests to use the lens with ANY of the "A" teleconverters (1.4x S, 1.4x L, 2x S, 2x L).
AFAIK, it's one of the very few manuals (only one?) which actually ADVISE to use a teleconverter. If i remember correctly, Pentax reported a softer effect.
None of the four converters was especially recommended, so i get that all of them are fine, and work equally well.
As soon as i can, i will try both grey converters, the 1.4x and 2x "L". I have both of them cause they work very, very well with my Pentax-A* 300mm f/2.8.
In the manual i found there is no reference to later converters, like the 1.7x AF, or the new 1.4x you mention.
I don't see why they should not work very well.

cheers

Paolo
Your post brought a question to my mind: I've used teleconverters in the past (the '70's) but not recently. I think I remember a 2X TC would double the f/# (f/2.8 lens would pass only as much light as an f/5.6 lens without the TC). But what I don't remember (or even think I knew then) was whether the now-f/5.6 lens was still producing the same depth of field as it did without the TC. In other words, would the bokeh produced by the f/2.8 lens remain but due to the TC, a shutter speed 4 times longer was now necessary. Any ideas?

Thanks,
Barry
08-05-2014, 03:29 AM   #21
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I agree completely to the idea of teleconverters or stacked teleconverters giving a soft focus effect. It depends entirely on the look of the image.


Adding a device or an optic that degrades the image is a well used technique for soft focus and this is just another way of doing that


The authentic soft focus effect that is so pleasing is not just blurring the image but is something magical that lives somewhere between sharp and blurred.


Its not just blurred, I can take an image in post processing and blur it. The result is not soft focus in the classic sense and the sense I am describing, its not even convincing.


Theres a faint undefineable glow, but too much glow and the magic's gone. Theres also a kind of sharpness as well as softness that's very hard to describe. A true dedicated soft focus lens is tuneable to achieve this soft focus precisely and in a controlled way, that's why they are expensive. But I believe that these soft focus lenses were designed to simply mimic the soft focus that some ancient lenses naturally produced. If you can find a lens or combination of optics that naturally produce this soft focus effect then lets celebrate that, thank the lord and pass the ammunition.


My own lenses that I call soft focus are not really soft focus, they are merely ordinary lenses that are slightly soft in their focus for whatever reason, and im very happy that they are. I have no problem calling them soft focus, and a sharp lens with a teleconverter added that results in soft focus I would call a soft focus rig. But hey who are we kidding soft focus is soft focus however you achieve it.


I dont think anyone should dismiss a lens that takes soft images as not being a "real" soft focus lens simply because it wasn't designed for the purpose and marketed as a soft focus lens.


That would be like dismissing a superb extreme macro image taken through a jury rigged set of optics showing a detailed image of a flower stamen or a bacillus, claiming its not really a macro shot because it wasn't taken with a dedicated macro lens.


Macro is macro however you achieve it, and soft focus is soft focus however you achieve it.


The image is all that matters, I have displayed images that are soft and have that indefinable magic, the response I have received has not been any kind of lens discussion or and opinion on the success of the image as a soft focus image, the response is usually one single word.


Beautiful.
08-05-2014, 05:24 AM   #22
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Thanks Imageman, I find this a great explanation, in fact i hope to have one of the 85 and 28mm soft lenses to create images with at some time.
08-05-2014, 05:53 AM   #23
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Darn I knew I should have bought one of those cheap TCs...

I have to jump in on the idea of software being as good as a graduated neutral density filter though. I'm not in the mood for a long discussion, so let me just say, you need to think this through.

08-05-2014, 06:20 AM   #24
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Another example of the DA*55 wide open (actually f/2.4 is as wide as you can go) on the HD DA 1.4xTC. I think it goes close to being "between sharp and blurred". I need to experiment with it more; this was an early test shot when I had just received the new converter.

Dreamy

A couple of stops down and the effect is gone:

Sharp
08-05-2014, 08:20 AM   #25
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QuoteOriginally posted by Imageman Quote
{snip}... If you can find a lens or combination of optics that naturally produce this soft focus effect then lets celebrate that, thank the lord and pass the ammunition. {snip} I dont think anyone should dismiss a lens that takes soft images as not being a "real" soft focus lens simply because it wasn't designed for the purpose and marketed as a soft focus lens. {snip} The image is all that matters, I have displayed images that are soft and have that indefinable magic, the response I have received has not been any kind of lens discussion or and opinion on the success of the image as a soft focus image, the response is usually one single word.

Beautiful.
Amen. "+1"

Barry
08-05-2014, 03:58 PM   #26
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QuoteOriginally posted by rumplestiltskin Quote
Your post brought a question to my mind: I've used teleconverters in the past (the '70's) but not recently. I think I remember a 2X TC would double the f/# (f/2.8 lens would pass only as much light as an f/5.6 lens without the TC). But what I don't remember (or even think I knew then) was whether the now-f/5.6 lens was still producing the same depth of field as it did without the TC. In other words, would the bokeh produced by the f/2.8 lens remain but due to the TC, a shutter speed 4 times longer was now necessary. Any ideas?

Thanks,
Barry
I did a bit more research and discovered this which, essentially, answers my question. For example: A 50mm lens set at f/2.8 stacked above a 2X teleconverter results in a 100mm f/5.6 lens with the depth of field of a 100mm f/5.6 lens. Now, if the distance away from the subject is, for example, 4 feet with the 50mm lens, then with the TC attached, one would need to stand at 8 feet to attain the same apparent subject size. This extra distance produces the same DOF.

So, the effect of a teleconverter would probably only magnify the existing flaws of the lens at the various apertures which, through the magic of optics, may provide the effect(s) you are seeking. If the TC is one of the macro-focusing models, some extra utility is available.

Barry
08-05-2014, 04:31 PM   #27
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Okay; just a test

All the discussion has me pumped up to try some experimentation. Here are two shots with the same camera/lens/distance at f/2.8; one taken with no filter and one taken with my first attempt at an Imagon "filter". The subject matter isn't the issue; just the effect. I think I may be on to something here. By the way, the lens is the FA 50mm f/2.8 Macro so the combination of sharp and swirl may not be a good one.
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08-08-2014, 04:50 AM - 1 Like   #28
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A couple of technical informations, which can be useful:
1) the "true" soft focus effect, during the not-so-short history of photographic lenses, has been obtained through two aberrations: chromatic and spherical. The former was abandoned with the introduction of panchromatic B/W films, and with color film using that kind of lenses can be a bit of a nightmare. What you see is NOT what you get! The focus must be adjusted, based on experience, after you obtain a sharp image on the ground glass, cause the visual and "chemical" focus don't coincide. I'd be extremely curious to see how one of those old lenses would perform with a modern sensor! Unfortunately most of them were made for large formats, so their focal is always too long for a practical portrait use. For the definition of chromatic and spherical aberrations better if you google or search Wikipedia. You'll find a better explanation than mine.
2) when i refer to "true soft focus" effect, i mean a mix of two layers, one sharp and one unsharp. By "unsharp" i don't mean blurred and out of focus, but a sort of peculiar softness, which produces a kind of "glow" expanding from the area of high illumination to the surrounding darker area. If a soft-focus lens is used as an enlarging lens, the effect is the opposite, a dark glow toward the clear area. Btw, there was one lens especially made for that use (a german one, perhaps a Zeiss).
I found on the Internet some Rodenstock documentation about the Imagon which explains everything in detail, with a LOT of informations and advices which can be very useful for anybody using a very soft lens, be it a rigged one, or originally made for that purpose.
3) every soft- focus lens i know does exhibit a certain degree of focus shift. That is, if you adjust the diaphragm the focus plane changes. Focusing must be done at the effective aperture. You can't focus wide-open then close the iris and shoot, like with standard lenses! So it doesn't come as a surprise that Pentax allows no TA focusing/metering with the old 85mm lens, and that the (optically different) F and FA versions allow TA only beyond a certain diaphragm value.
With modern cameras, live view can help. I find my K-01 a perfect match for my 85mm SF, that is... if there are no nasty reflections on the display! :-)
4) a quick explanation of the Imagon tea-strainer pop-on "filters". They are used to actually REDUCE, not increase, the level of softness. The Imagon at its softest is without them! The center hole controls the amount of "sharp", brought by the light ray which pass close to the axis of the lens. The outside smaller holes (which can be opened and closed at pleasure) control the amount of softness, which comes from the light rays passing through the area close to the border of the lens. The amount of spherical aberration gets higher and higher from the center to the border. The design of the lens is a simple achromatic doublet. Two cemented glasses. The same design of the earlier 85mm by Pentax. The only difference is that in the Imagon the concavity is towards the subject, in the Pentax is towards the film/sensor. The best solution is the former, but in a small camera there are a few good reasons to design the lens the other way round

cheers

Paolo

Last edited by cyberjunkie; 08-08-2014 at 04:57 AM.
08-08-2014, 07:36 AM   #29
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QuoteOriginally posted by cyberjunkie Quote
when i refer to "true soft focus" effect, i mean a mix of two layers, one sharp and one unsharp. By "unsharp" i don't mean blurred and out of focus, but a sort of peculiar softness, which produces a kind of "glow" expanding from the area of high illumination to the surrounding darker area.
Yes, "soft focus" is not just slightly out of focus, it is in focus, but "soft". Yes, there is a difference. Out of focus is generally just ugly, your eyes/brain reject it. Soft focus looks in focus, but with a glow and smoothing of details.
08-09-2014, 03:05 PM   #30
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I just sold my K 85mm f2.2 soft in the marketplace after playing with it for a month or so. I found it to be a very difficult lens to use, especially on digital thanks to the tiny viewfinder compared to a film SLR, but if you put up with the pain the images it produced could be extremely rewarding too. I would like to get one again eventually probably to explore it's potential more, but for now it's not the direction I want to go with my own photography.
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