I can recommend this lens: Yes |
| Rating: 9
Fun to use, versatile.
Manual diaphragm, hard to focus with no distance scale.
Camera Used:6x7, 67 and 67II
I have the 67 120/3.5 Soft 1989 version which was the last 120mm Soft lens that was made for the Pentax 6x7 system. It has the same optics as its predecessor, the 6x7 120/3.5 Soft (1982).
The 120/3.5 Soft is a unique lens as it can be used as a “Soft Focus” lens from f3.5 to f8 and as a regular lens from f11 to f22. The “Soft Focus” effect is controlled by the aperture ring and is at its highest degree at f3.5 and at it’s lowest at f8. The 120/3.5 also has a manual diaphragm so you have to use stop-down metering and has no distance scale for DOF calculations. The 120/3.5 is light weight for a Pentax 6x7 system lens, so no issues hand holding it.
FOCAL LENGTH: Most Soft-Focus lenses are made with a “standard portrait” focal length, so for the Pentax 6x7 system that would be 150-165mm. It was a good move by Pentax to release the 6x7 Soft as a wider 120mm FL, so it can be used for other things than portraits. I use mine for everything from fishing boats to close-up flower work with the Helicoid extension tube. If I do want to use it for portraiture then I add my 67 1.4x rear converter and presto I have a 168mm soft lens!
FILM & EXPOSURE: For better results Pentax recommends using a slower fine grain film when using the soft-focus feature. (50-100 ISO) Also to shoot in the aperture range of f5.6 to f3.5 in sunny weather, you need a slower film or you will have to use a ND filter to get 1/1000th or lower shutter speeds. Note make sure you don’t overexpose your shot as it will be ruined with flare.
FOCUSING WITH NO SOFT-FOCUS EFFECT: Normally with a manual diaphragm lens you set the aperture to the maximum opening, focus, meter and then stop-down to the shooting aperture. With this lens at f3.5 the image in the viewfinder will be ‘soft”, so it’s hard to focus, you need to do your focusing at f11 where the image is sharp. Then you stop-down to the shooting aperture and check your DOF. F11 to F22 has no soft-focus effect so the 120/3.5 works just like any ordinary 120mm lens. However with no distance scale you can’t use hyper focal focusing.
FOCUSING USING THE SOFT-FOCUS EFFECT: There is no right or wrong way to compose a soft-focus shot, but since there is no distance scale you will need to focus on something to make that the focal point of your shot. When shooting people, flowers or anything close it’s usually not an issue. However for landscape shooting this can be a little tricky, so I try and focus on something midway in the scene and check my shooting DOF to see if it’s ok. Also the microprism or split-image circle on a focus screen can’t be used when focusing with this lens. For actual focusing you can use the same procedure as above and set the aperture at f11, meter and then move the aperture to the get the degree of soft focus that you want. You can also focus with the aperture set at the degree of soft-focus effect that you want and then use the focus-compensation index on the lens barrel to adjust focusing. Check the lens manual for more info on how to do this.
FILTER: The 67 120/3.5 uses 77mm screw in filters. You can’t use Pentax 6x7 77mm bayonet filters on this lens.
CASE: The 67 120/3.5 came with a dedicated soft case that did not have a number. I use the S90-140 soft case instead and the lens fits perfectly.
HOOD: The 67 120/3.5 uses a rubber screw-in RH-RC77 hood. This hood is collapsible and is also intended for the 67 165/4 LS lens.
The 67 120/3.5 Soft is a fun lens that lets you be creative with your “artsy” side, in a crunch it can also be stopped-down and used as an ordinary 120mm lens. You really need to experiment with the soft-focus effect and how much flare you want in a shot. This will help in determining what effect you like best, the results can be very appealing.
Price: I found my 67 120/3.5 at KEH and it cost $299.00. It was EX+ condition. I purchased the hood, caps and case separately.
Sample shots taken with the 67 120/3.5. Photos are medium resolution Lab scans from original negatives or slides.
Camera: 67 Film: Kodak T-Max 400 ISO: 400
Camera: 67II Film: Kodak E100G ISO: 100 Using the 6x7 Helicoid extension tube
Camera: 67 Film: Ilford SFX 200 ISO: 200 Shot at F/11 with no soft-focus effect