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12-22-2009, 02:25 AM   #1
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Are SOFT FOCUS lenses actually useful?

I might be buying an 85mm Pentax SOFT FOCUS.

Are SOFT FOCUS lenses actually useful?

I looked at some photos taken with it, and was hard pressed to find any good or stellar ones.

I already have some great limiteds as seen in my signature.

Do I need to add the 85mm Pentax SOFT FOCUS to my collection to fill any certain portraiture gap?

What do you all think of SOFT FOCUS or in particular the 85mm Pentax SOFT FOCUS?

12-22-2009, 03:56 AM   #2
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Your call, but soft focus is something you as the photographer should be able to manage without a dedicated soft focus lens. Personally I'd see it as a pointless buy, but then I have old fartz eye sight so most of my pics done manually probably fit that description anyway.
12-22-2009, 04:16 AM   #3
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If you don't know whether you need it or not, you don't need it, and it's a "pointless" buy.

But it is very, very useful for a small portion of photographers in a specialised area, such as portraiture or surrealism. The lenses give an effect on images that is indeed very difficult to properly re-create with photoshop (though not impossible; few things are), and some people love that effect.

However, do keep in mind that either way you feel about them, these lenses were made in a time before digital, before photoshop, where film reigned and many people didn't have any, let alone sufficient, darkroom skills. They are a bit of a "relic" in and of themselves, and while giving a pleasing and unique effect, they are arguably obsolete.
12-22-2009, 04:45 AM   #4
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F(A) 85/2.8 is one of those lenses that I had (it was F variety), immensely enjoyed and had to sell when I fell a victim to the rumours that FA limiteds are going to be discontinued some years ago. I sold it and few more lenses and bought brand new FA 31/1.8 Ltd, which I don't regret. But I do regret having to sell my soft lens. If I come by an opportunity to buy one, I'd surely do so. I used it for dreamy portraits of my daughter Galia and in other cases when unusual shadow/light rendering seemed appropriate. It is an untrivial lens, but very fascinating.

12-23-2009, 01:44 PM   #5
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if you do a lot of wedding portraits, this lens is very ideal to use.
12-23-2009, 02:24 PM   #6
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If for nothing elase, shooting with a soft focus lens will safe you loads of time, trying to re-create that effect in Photoshop. Soft focus lens are not simply mis-focusing etc. but overlaying a sharp image with residue of spherical aberration. The amount of that sperical aberration can be controlled via aperture setting, so that it is easy to decide, how strog the soft focus effect will be.

It is the right lens for you, if you like that dreamy effect. If you never used it or longed for it, you probably won't need it.

Ben
12-23-2009, 04:52 PM   #7
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One thing to note is that the Pentax soft focus lenses, there are some restrictions due to the absence of the A setting on the aperture ring.
12-23-2009, 05:26 PM   #8
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You could just stick nylons over the lens... or coat a UV filter with vaceline. I believe the effect is essentially the same.

Of course, you'll pay hundreds more for a macro lens Vs a 50mm with extention tubes. As with a macro, what you're paying for with a soft focus lens is ease of use and flexability.

Paradoxically, stopped down beyond f/8, you may find it to be as sharp or sharper then other lenses you have in that focal length.

12-23-2009, 06:23 PM   #9
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My Sears 135/2.8 Model 202 (with Macro settings) turns into a soft focus lens inside the Macro modes

In:


Out:



If I were you, I'd buy one and try it out. Worse comes to worse...resell it for what you paid...maybe more
12-23-2009, 06:49 PM   #10
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buy it then sell it to me for 150 bucks and you get yourself a deal !
12-23-2009, 10:54 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by creampuff Quote
One thing to note is that the Pentax soft focus lenses, there are some restrictions due to the absence of the A setting on the aperture ring.
Well, both FA and F 85/2.8 and FA 28/2.8 do have A setting on the aperture ring but indeed it behaves slightly differently than regular KA mount lenses.
12-24-2009, 02:31 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Boris Quote
Well, both FA and F 85/2.8 and FA 28/2.8 do have A setting on the aperture ring but indeed it behaves slightly differently than regular KA mount lenses.
Are you sure you know what you're talking about, because there is definitely no A setting on the aperture ring for all the Pentax Soft Focus lenses.

12-24-2009, 03:53 AM   #13
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@creampuff: Indeed. My mistake. I stand corrected. I got confused by the fact, that (from my memory, may verify only at home with my photo collection) F 85/2.8 does report the f number to the camera so that it is recorded in the EXIF data. But I may be wrong again.
12-24-2009, 06:57 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by keyser Quote
You could just stick nylons over the lens... or coat a UV filter with vaceline. I believe the effect is essentially the same.
Ummmmm,,,no.
Soft focus lenses are uncorrected for spherical aberration. This is not the same thing as mushing the image with a diffuser.
12-24-2009, 07:45 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Wheatfield Quote
Ummmmm,,,no.
Soft focus lenses are uncorrected for spherical aberration. This is not the same thing as mushing the image with a diffuser.
exactly. The difference is very visible. If it was just a diffusor, it would be easy to replicate that effect in Photoshop, but it isn't.

Ben
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