I’m intrigued by soft focus lenses. So many people say that in the digital era soft focus lenses have become obsolete because you can simulate the effect in post production; yet there are select few people who claim that that is not the case and you get a very different effect from the lens compared to simply applying a blur/diffusion effect on an image in post.
I love the dreamy effect I was once able to get with the Canon 135mm f2.8 soft focus lens on a photograph I took outside of my girls’ tricycle.
But I have yet to get a really good portrait with it, even though I’ve gotten it almost right a few times. But I’m not giving up. So of course I had to get a soft focus lens – RZ 180mm f/4 VSF – for my Mamiya also. Because I love a good challenge, and I got it cheap for $137.00 in like new condition and with all three aperture discs included. I had read that it’s a very difficult lens to focus, especially after one of the aperture discs has been dropped in. Boy, is that true. The whole image seems just sort of dark and blurry in the viewfinder. Somehow I managed to get the focus right though on this photo of my oldest watching a show. There is nothing spectacular about this image, and it’s slightly under-exposed as evidenced by the bluish cast. But considering that this is my first, and so far only, try at this lens, it’s not bad. I used the f/5.6 aperture disc with the lens’ aperture left at f/4 and the resulting soft focus is really subtle, sort of close to perfect for dreamy portrait work. It’ll be fun to play around with this lens under different lighting conditions. It truly seems like you need the right light to bring out the best in this lens.
Image taken with Kodak Portra 800 film.