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jnanian
4-Mar-2017, 12:53
i know, its kind of a dumb title for this thread....

i have a handful of different lenses, some are
tessar design, some plasmat, some RR, anastigmat, petsval and other "stuff"
i also have a fast lens that some say are portrait lens, others say it is a soft focus lens
and still others say it is just a regular old run of the mill lens.

so, my question is, if a lens is fast and has enough aberration from the out of focus area
to make a pleasing image, with a nice softness to it can it be considered a soft focus lens ?

aren't the names "soft focus" " landscape" and "portrait" lenses just marketing labels/ "tag" anyways ?
any lens can be a soft, landscape or portrait lens and if someone knows how to use it right.
i mean i've photographed with super sharp+contrasty modern 35mm pentax+nikon lenses and
used them in such a way that people thought the photographs were made with some sort of vintage
xyz labelled landscape/portrait lens .. and it was about as corrected a lens as you can get...

Bob Salomon
4-Mar-2017, 13:23
Go to Google and search for Monte Zucker and see his work. He specialized in soft focus portraits of women, same for Timor Horvath and Al Gilbert.

mdarnton
4-Mar-2017, 13:40
Someone will certainly come along and set me right in minute detail, but I believe that the technical rule for "soft focus" regards a visible abundance of spherical aberration, and the somewhat looser folk definition adds chromatic aberration to that description. Visually that means that at the point of sharp focus, sharpness is not perfect but somewhat more or less diffused by those two mechanisms, and that this effect also probably extends somewhat ahead of and behind the point of perfect focus, but to be strictly to that definition, the actual point of focus is where soft happens to focus, and it can't be sharp. So, your crispy Pertzval, and billion-lines-per-mm-resolving very fast lens, no, they ain't "soft focus" though they may be "portrait". Then there's the V2 folk definition, which includes stuff like being out of focus (which actually is "soft", right?). Notice that bokeh isn't in here anywhere.

Then there's the definition of "portrait lens" which is broadly any lens anyone anywhere might at some time have used to shoot a portrait, for whatever reason, including bokeh, focal length, real or imagined pictorial benefits, high speed or limited DOF, or that was described by the original maker as a "portrait lens" for more or less obscure or marketing reason, or by various people because it was the lens they had on the camera that day that they used for a portrait. If you look for "portrait lens" on Ebay, this last type is the type that shows up the most.

Part of the problem with the term soft focus is that, as the guys who write dictionaries know, how a word is currently used is a lot more important than how someone with a stick up his tail defined it 100 years ago, so as time moves on "soft focus" becomes more and more what people want it to be, less and less what some old technical definition says.

Randy
4-Mar-2017, 15:12
...I believe that the technical rule for "soft focus" regards a visible abundance of spherical aberration, and the somewhat looser folk definition adds chromatic aberration to that description.That's my guess. I have one particular lens that I assume falls into this category - 190mm Wollaston Meniscus (Reinholds). What I find particularly pleasing about it is - when the "sweet spot" is found, say about f/8, where you have just a bit of glow in the lighter areas, the area of sharpest focus doesn't fall of rapidly in front or behind the subject you focused on, but the fall-off is so very gradual that you don't really notice it in the scene. That really sort of fits the term "soft focus" quite well.

Alan Gales
4-Mar-2017, 16:16
Most of the portraits that I have shot have been with normal lenses. Most of the landscapes I have shot have been with slightly long lenses. I've always used wide angle lenses for getting in close.

Labels are just labels. :)

goamules
4-Mar-2017, 16:17
i know, its kind of a dumb title for this thread....
aren't the names "soft focus" " landscape" and "portrait" lenses just marketing labels/ "tag" anyways ?
any lens can be a soft, landscape or portrait lens and if someone knows how to use it right.
i mean i've photographed with super sharp+contrasty modern 35mm pentax+nikon lenses and
used them in such a way that people thought the photographs were made with some sort of vintage
xyz labelled landscape/portrait lens ....

No, you are wrong about soft focus. If a lens creates a soft result, it's a soft focus lens. If you manipulate an image in Photoshop or use a filter to make a soft image, you didn't magically turn the lens into a soft focus lens. If you want to try to prove your statement, take a soft focus picture with a non soft lens type, and report back to us with the image.

jnanian
4-Mar-2017, 16:58
No, you are wrong about soft focus. If a lens creates a soft result, it's a soft focus lens. If you manipulate an image in Photoshop or use a filter to make a soft image, you didn't magically turn the lens into a soft focus lens. If you want to try to prove your statement, take a soft focus picture with a non soft lens type, and report back to us with the image.


i never said or suggested i was using photoshop or "filter-trickery?" to manipulate images. just
knowledge of how to focus in certain ways to work with DOF of modern sharp/contrasty or non labelled "portrait / soft focus" lenses
and i get similar results to using something labelled " soft focus lens" that i might have. gomules, i've been using old, brass,
portrait and soft focus lenses since the 90s, not since jim galli started writing his blog about them ...
and i've been using other techniques with other lenses since before i bought "portrait" or "soft focus" lenses.
i just asked about lens taxonomy, forgetting speed=portrait so the exposure wasn't 1 minute, nothing really worth getting upset about ...
i'd post images but some are from small formats, and i really don't want to fill this website up with images made from
negatives smaller than 4x5, and causing a riot.

Mark Sawyer
4-Mar-2017, 17:59
...aren't the names "soft focus" " landscape" and "portrait" lenses just marketing labels/ "tag" anyways ?
any lens can be a soft, landscape or portrait lens and if someone knows how to use it right.

There have been several generations of lenses specifically labelled and intended as portrait lenses by their makers, and for specific reasons that have changed over time.

1st generation: The Petzval Portrait Lens. What made this lens a "portrait" lens was its speed, often f/3 to f/4 or so, which allowed for quicker exposures in the daguerreotype/collodion days where sitters had to remain motionless for multiple seconds.

2nd generation: The "soft" portrait lenses. These were the only lenses designed to have a specific aesthetic; just a touch of softness to smooth out wrinkles and blemishes on the skin. Not to be confused with the Pictorialist soft lenses, like the Verito, Pinkham & Smith, Port-Land, Plasticca, etc., which were much softer, and used as much for landscapes, street scenes, groups, and still-lifes as for portraits. But stopped down a bit, the Pictorialist lenses could be firmed up to what "official" soft portrait lenses (like the Cooke Portrait Lenses) gave. The Cooke Portrait Lenses are the epitome of this generation, followed closely by the Universal Heliars, explaining in part both their astronomical prices.

3rd generation: Modern portrait lenses, which have a longer-than-normal focal length, which gives a more pleasing perspective to the face, (i.e.: the nose doesn't seem to protrude from the facial plane as much).

You could also argue for an intermediate generation (between the 1st and 2nd) of very fast Rapid Rectilinear/Aplanat design lenses made for portraiture, like the Series II (f/4), III (f/4.5), and IV (f/6) Euryscops, as these were also intended and very often used for



Then there's the definition of "portrait lens" which is broadly any lens anyone anywhere might at some time have used to shoot a portrait...

Yup, if you can make a portrait with it, it must be a "Portrait Lens". We had a big hoo-hah over this a few years ago when the LFF Powers-That-Be put an article on the reference page on "portrait lenses" that listed Sironars, Symmars, Ronars, Artars, Fujinon-A's, C's and -W's, etc. as "Portrait Lenses" It's still up as an authoritative source for information on "Portrait Lenses", and I think it's an embarrassment to the forum...

http://www.largeformatphotography.info/portrait-lenses/

jp
4-Mar-2017, 19:29
A normal sharp lens can have good spherical aberration like a soft lens, but not likely when it's in focus. So if you take an out of focus photo, it will be a needlessly soft photo.

A good soft focus lens has SA in the background to have a pleasing background, as well as in the focus spot at the same time, creating some additional apparent DOF. Then it can have a blend of good focus definition and smooth softness all at once.

A Nikon DC lens can do this if misused, but I'm guessing you'd say that if that's what you'd used.

Old school, a landscape lens such as a meniscus had a smaller aperture so that it was sharper. These probably predated the appreciation of softness for any purpose what so ever.

Randy
4-Mar-2017, 19:43
No, you are wrong about soft focus. If a lens creates a soft result, it's a soft focus lens. If you manipulate an image in Photoshop or use a filter to make a soft image, you didn't magically turn the lens into a soft focus lens. If you want to try to prove your statement, take a soft focus picture with a non soft lens type, and report back to us with the image.....? what the...?

jnanian
4-Mar-2017, 21:10
There have been several generations of lenses specifically labelled and intended as portrait lenses by their makers, and for specific reasons that have changed over time.

1st generation: The Petzval Portrait Lens. What made this lens a "portrait" lens was its speed, often f/3 to f/4 or so, which allowed for quicker exposures in the daguerreotype/collodion days where sitters had to remain motionless for multiple seconds.

2nd generation: The "soft" portrait lenses. These were the only lenses designed to have a specific aesthetic; just a touch of softness to smooth out wrinkles and blemishes on the skin. Not to be confused with the Pictorialist soft lenses, like the Verito, Pinkham & Smith, Port-Land, Plasticca, etc., which were much softer, and used as much for landscapes, street scenes, groups, and still-lifes as for portraits. But stopped down a bit, the Pictorialist lenses could be firmed up to what "official" soft portrait lenses (like the Cooke Portrait Lenses) gave. The Cooke Portrait Lenses are the epitome of this generation, followed closely by the Universal Heliars, explaining in part both their astronomical prices.

3rd generation: Modern portrait lenses, which have a longer-than-normal focal length, which gives a more pleasing perspective to the face, (i.e.: the nose doesn't seem to protrude from the facial plane as much).

You could also argue for an intermediate generation (between the 1st and 2nd) of very fast Rapid Rectilinear/Aplanat design lenses made for portraiture, like the Series II (f/4), III (f/4.5), and IV (f/6) Euryscops, as these were also intended and very often used for




Yup, if you can make a portrait with it, it must be a "Portrait Lens". We had a big hoo-hah over this a few years ago when the LFF Powers-That-Be put an article on the reference page on "portrait lenses" that listed Sironars, Symmars, Ronars, Artars, Fujinon-A's, C's and -W's, etc. as "Portrait Lenses" It's still up as an authoritative source for information on "Portrait Lenses", and I think it's an embarrassment to the forum...

http://www.largeformatphotography.info/portrait-lenses/


thanks mark
after i posted the OP it hit me portrait = speed since exposure times were long.

jnanian
5-Mar-2017, 06:37
Go to Google and search for Monte Zucker and see his work. He specialized in soft focus portraits of women, same for Timor Horvath and Al Gilbert.

bob

thanks for monte's name, i remember his seminars and his photography. really "classic" stuff.
my mentor did similar work, NYIP trained in the 20s/30s rembrandt ( karsh ) lighting &c.
her ( my mentor ) way of softening an image wasn't with a lens but by passing cellophane between
the lens and paper ... in her closet she had a verito and other "somethings soft worth a fortune today"
but she never really used them.. i wasn't able to find anything online about timor horvath and al gilbert, can you post a link or 2?
thnx

Bob Salomon
5-Mar-2017, 06:52
bob

thanks for monte's name, i remember his seminars and his photography. really "classic" stuff.
my mentor did similar work, NYIP trained in the 20s/30s rembrandt ( karsh ) lighting &c.
her ( my mentor ) way of softening an image wasn't with a lens but by passing cellophane between
the lens and paper ... in her closet she had a verito and other "somethings soft worth a fortune today"
but she never really used them.. i wasn't able to find anything online about timor horvath and al gilbert, can you post a link or 2?
thnx

Monte did most of his formal portraits with the Imagon, so did Tiber and Al, don't have links for them. When they used normally sharp lenses for portraiture they added a Softar from Zeiss to the lens. They also used caresfully crafted lighting, much of it was what Fassbender and Zeltsman taught with their own modifications to it.
Monte was famous for his one light portraits that used a very soft main light along with a moveable reflector.

jnanian
5-Mar-2017, 09:50
Monte did most of his formal portraits with the Imagon, so did Tiber and Al, don't have links for them. When they used normally sharp lenses for portraiture they added a Softar from Zeiss to the lens. They also used caresfully crafted lighting, much of it was what Fassbender and Zeltsman taught with their own modifications to it.
Monte was famous for his one light portraits that used a very soft main light along with a moveable reflector.

THAT is one of the KEYS....
a lot of folks who use portrait or soft focus lenses
just shoot them like they were a "regular lens"
thinking they are some sort of magical glass, but they don't
really pay attention to the details and lighting &c. even with a front of back focusing
regular old normal lens and the right kind of lighting regular old normal lenses can maybe not be an imageon, or
a beach lens with rippled glass, but have a less sharp.less contrast. pre 1930s/soft look to them..
it would be right about now that jon cooke would mention some hollywood portrait photographer
putting out his cigar on some sort of 1920s portrait glass saying " there it was i was sitting on his desk
with a folder full of 8x10 glossies and he put the cigar out on a 2000$ lens, that guy had class" ...

Alan Gales
5-Mar-2017, 10:23
For portraiture, doesn't it help with the "glow" from a soft focus lens to backlight your subject somewhat?

Jim Noel
5-Mar-2017, 10:39
i never said or suggested i was using photoshop or "filter-trickery?" to manipulate images. just
knowledge of how to focus in certain ways to work with DOF of modern sharp/contrasty or non labelled "portrait / soft focus" lenses
and i get similar results to using something labelled " soft focus lens" that i might have. gomules, i've been using old, brass,
portrait and soft focus lenses since the 90s, not since jim galli started writing his blog about them ...
and i've been using other techniques with other lenses since before i bought "portrait" or "soft focus" lenses.
i just asked about lens taxonomy, forgetting speed=portrait so the exposure wasn't 1 minute, nothing really worth getting upset about ...
i'd post images but some are from small formats, and i really don't want to fill this website up with images made from
negatives smaller than 4x5, and causing a riot.

Out of focus images are far from being soft focus images.

Dan Fromm
5-Mar-2017, 11:36
Useful sources of information:

http://research-repository.st-andrews.ac.uk/handle/10023/505 and click to download. A doctoral dissertation on soft-focus lenses and pictorialism, not a lens catalog. People interested in pictorialism or soft-focus lenses might find it an interesting read.

http://www.galerie-photo.com/soft-focus-objectif-portrait-flou.html Explanations, lens cross-sections, example shots. In French.

http://cnum.cnam.fr/CGI/redire.cgi?8KE464 All about Puyo-Puligny anachromatic soft focus lenses from the horses’ mouths. In French.

xkaes
5-Mar-2017, 13:39
You may also want to check out:

http://www.subclub.org/fujinon/close-up.htm

The material is pertinent to ANY size format.

jnanian
6-Mar-2017, 06:39
For portraiture, doesn't it help with the "glow" from a soft focus lens to backlight your subject somewhat?

backlight is nice, but i also like using a combination of hard and soft light ( sort of the same thing but different ) or just plain hard light...

Useful sources of information:

http://research-repository.st-andrews.ac.uk/handle/10023/505 and click to download. A doctoral dissertation on soft-focus lenses and pictorialism, not a lens catalog. People interested in pictorialism or soft-focus lenses might find it an interesting read.

http://www.galerie-photo.com/soft-focus-objectif-portrait-flou.html Explanations, lens cross-sections, example shots. In French.

http://cnum.cnam.fr/CGI/redire.cgi?8KE464 All about Puyo-Puligny anachromatic soft focus lenses from the horses’ mouths. In French.


You may also want to check out:

http://www.subclub.org/fujinon/close-up.htm

The material is pertinent to ANY size format.

dan and xkaes, thanks for the referencees !

jnanian
6-Mar-2017, 17:52
Out of focus images are far from being soft focus images.

i think it really depends ..

cowanw
6-Mar-2017, 18:25
i think it really depends ..
as always...
take a pinhole for example; although arguably then we are not talking lenses.

xkaes
6-Mar-2017, 18:39
i think it really depends ..

You are right, of course. As they say, one man's ceiling is another man's mirror!

AtlantaTerry
6-Mar-2017, 21:21
Karsh of Ottawa also used an Imagon lens for some of his portraits.

https://www.google.com/search?q=karsh+of+ottawa+photos&rlz=1C1GGGE_enUS403&espv=2&biw=1920&bih=1017&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjEocfBxcPSAhWDKyYKHStIATcQ_AUIBigB

jnanian
7-Mar-2017, 03:31
You are right, of course. As they say, one man's ceiling is another man's mirror!


i'll have to remember that ...

cowanw
7-Mar-2017, 06:30
Karsh of Ottawa also used an Imagon lens for some of his portraits.

https://www.google.com/search?q=karsh+of+ottawa+photos&rlz=1C1GGGE_enUS403&espv=2&biw=1920&bih=1017&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjEocfBxcPSAhWDKyYKHStIATcQ_AUIBigB
Really? Do you have a reference for that? I would like to see which images were with an Imagon.

jnanian
7-Mar-2017, 13:38
Really? Do you have a reference for that? I would like to see which images were with an Imagon.
i had never heard of that either. from what i remember he loved sharp lenses like commercial ektars ...

jnanian
7-Mar-2017, 17:11
daguerre complained that his meniscus lens was hard to focus ( it was what is known as a french landscape lens )
how is an image made by a lens like that where nothing seems in focus ... any more in focus than a lens that is defocused a little bit?
i've made and used chevalier achromat meniscus lenses, plano convex lenses, wollaston meniscus both as taking and enlarger lenses
and they are not ez to focus, no wonder why they made :f16 chokes for them. is the reason why a barely defocused modern lens is different than a soft focus lens because
a soft focus lens (like the 3 i have mentioned) is made to be unfocused, and i am manually defocusng a modern lens to give a similar image?
so one is by design and the other is not ..
i know a lot of people here on this forum collect and use a lot of vintage lenses, i am by no means
trying to suggest these lenses aren't worth collecting, using, having fun with, investing in &c, i am just trying to understand
why one is "accepted" and other is not ... since i was told there was so much of a difference.

Bob Salomon
7-Mar-2017, 17:35
daguerre complained that his meniscus lens was hard to focus ( it was what is known as a french landscape lens )
how is an image made by a lens like that where nothing seems in focus ... any more in focus than a lens that is defocused a little bit?
i've made and used chevalier achromat meniscus lenses, plano convex lenses, wollaston meniscus both as taking and enlarger lenses
and they are not ez to focus, no wonder why they made :f16 chokes for them. is the reason why a barely defocused modern lens is different than a soft focus lens because
a soft focus lens (like the 3 i have mentioned) is made to be unfocused, and i am manually defocusng a modern lens to give a similar image?
so one is by design and the other is not ..
i know a lot of people here on this forum collect and use a lot of vintage lenses, i am by no means
trying to suggest these lenses aren't worth collecting, using, having fun with, investing in &c, i am just trying to understand
why one is "accepted" and other is not ... since i was told there was so much of a difference.
With the Imagon there are certain conditions that have to be met to get the typical halo effect that the lens is known for.
1: you need a strong 5:1 lighting ratios.
2: you need a broad soft light source but not an umbrella or soft box.
3: you must focus at taking aperture as focus shifts with the aperture. The most commonly used aperture for portraits is 7.7 by using the second disk wide open.
4: you look for a strong highlight on the subject or have them hold a strong flashlight by the base of their nose. Focus on that highlight or flashlight until the light forms a cross. When you see the cross you are in focus.

Look closely at what the subject looks like at that point so you can recognize what a sharp image looks like when in focus.

jnanian
7-Mar-2017, 18:02
thanks bob

so the imagon is an achromatic doublet ( which is like a french landscape lens right? )
it uses a sink strainer instead of a traditional single hole / iris ...
i know these lenses are stopped down ( as you said f7.7 ) but as you probably know
people use french landscape lenses and other soft focus lenses ( on this forum and elsewhere ) wide open, with
no correction/sharpening of the image by cutting the light ...
so the difference between using that lens wide open and a modern lens de-focused is ?

sorry to put you on the spot !

do you have any samples of this type of lens wide open without 5:1 lighting and all the "correct" ways of using it ?

jp
7-Mar-2017, 18:09
so the difference between using that lens wide open and a modern lens de-focused is ?


A much simplified question I like.

A modern lens will be out of focus as you change the focus.

A SF lens has a blend of out of focus and in focus simultaneously. Typically, the perimeter of the lens focuses differently than the center of the glass. (look up spherical aberration) If the center is sharply focused, the rays going through the not-center parts of the glass will be out of focus, and you'll have a soft+sharp mix in the formation of the image. This makes a glow as a side effect. Old landscape lenses as mentioned fixed this by choking down to f16 or smaller to block the not-center rays. New normal lenses are designed without this fault and can't behave this way. The strainer in the imagon is a way to regulate the mixing of rays from center and non-center paths through the lens.

goamules
7-Mar-2017, 18:12
...
i also have a fast lens that some say are portrait lens, others say it is a soft focus lens
and still others say it is just a regular old run of the mill lens....

aren't the names "soft focus" " landscape" and "portrait" lenses just marketing labels/ "tag" anyways ?

...any lens can be a soft, landscape or portrait lens and if someone knows how to use it right......

Those that didn't understand my reply, I was commenting on this part of your original post. But you asked several questions, and others were probably reading a more generic "can't anything be used for portraits?" Sure, you can use a fisheye wide angle for portraits.

Some of your above points I comment on again:

0. Yes, you can use any lens for portraits. You cannot use any lens for soft focus.

1. If a manufacturer used the name Soft Focuc - it was soft. It wasn't just "marketing" to claim the Struss was a Pictorial lens. It's extremely soft. A Kodak Portrait lens is extremely soft.

2. The only way "any lens can be soft" is to add a filter or use post development techniques in the dark room or digital Photoshop. Tell me how you can take a shot with a Protar V that is soft.

Not meaning to get you rialed, but I just think you are making a stretch that any lens can be soft, and that "soft" is just marketing trickery.

xkaes
7-Mar-2017, 18:12
thanks bob

so the imagon is an achromatic doublet ( which is like a french landscape lens right? )
it uses a sink strainer instead of a traditional single hole / iris ...
i know these lenses are stopped down ( as you said f7.7 ) but as you probably know
people use french landscape lenses and other soft focus lenses ( on this forum and elsewhere ) wide open, with
no correction/sharpening of the image by cutting the light ...
so the difference between using that lens wide open and a modern lens de-focused is ?

sorry to put you on the spot !

do you have any samples of this type of lens wide open without 5:1 lighting and all the "correct" ways of using it ?



EXACTLY, and you can get the EXACT same affect with with a "simple" close-up lens. Check out:

http://www.subclub.org/fujinon/close-up.htm

goamules
7-Mar-2017, 18:18
... is the reason why a barely defocused modern lens is different than a soft focus lens because
a soft focus lens (like the 3 i have mentioned) is made to be unfocused, and i am manually defocusng a modern lens to give a similar image?
so one is by design and the other is not ....

Two different things.

An image is in focus when the light has passed through a lens and re-converges at a specific plane. An out of focus image is when that plane is behind or in front of the intended plane.


An image is soft when spherical or chromatic aberration causes multiple "points of focus", behind and in front of the intended plane. Some of the image will be sharp, exactly at the plane. Some will not. Perhaps one color in a lens that is not an achromatic, will be spot on. Other colors will "fringe" if you were shooting color, but no one did back "then". So you get a "glow" around the otherwise sharp image. Or perhaps 45.3% of the one point in the subject, in a lens that is soft focus, will "land" where it's supposed to be. In a spherical aberration situation.

There are lots and lots of examples and scholarly writings about this, going back 100 years. You just have to look them up. Russ Young has a good soft focus thesis you may not have read. Soft is related to aberrations in the lens design that make the image appear "fuzzy." Out of focus appears different, more "blurry." But you know that.

goamules
7-Mar-2017, 18:28
This is out of focus:

https://c2.staticflickr.com/4/3148/2876607166_fffffcb84b_z.jpg

This is a soft focus lens (Verito):

https://c2.staticflickr.com/8/7112/7689152344_c3d9b2f2e8_c.jpg

Mark Sawyer
7-Mar-2017, 18:41
daguerre complained that his meniscus lens was hard to focus ( it was what is known as a french landscape lens )
how is an image made by a lens like that where nothing seems in focus ... any more in focus than a lens that is defocused a little bit?
i've made and used chevalier achromat meniscus lenses, plano convex lenses, wollaston meniscus both as taking and enlarger lenses
and they are not ez to focus, no wonder why they made :f16 chokes for them. is the reason why a barely defocused modern lens is different than a soft focus lens because
a soft focus lens (like the 3 i have mentioned) is made to be unfocused, and i am manually defocusng a modern lens to give a similar image?
so one is by design and the other is not ..
i know a lot of people here on this forum collect and use a lot of vintage lenses, i am by no means
trying to suggest these lenses aren't worth collecting, using, having fun with, investing in &c, i am just trying to understand
why one is "accepted" and other is not ... since i was told there was so much of a difference.

I'll reword jp's explanation a little. True "soft focus", achieved by spherical aberration has a sharp "core" image with an accompanying out-of-focus soft image, so it's both sharp and soft. The softness is pronounced at the highlights, producing the "glow" that soft focus lenses are known for.

The aberrations that create the soft image are actually a sharp image from outer areas of the lens focused on another plane in front of the "main" plane of focus from rays from near the optical axis. When you try to focus a lens with pronounced spherical aberration, you have these different planes of focus going on, so there's a sharp image over a range of focus, and you're trying to figure out which one is right. That's why for some lenses (like the Dagor, which has some spherical aberration), you should re-check your focus at the taking aperture to avoid focus shift. All the lenses that suffer from focus shift do so because of spherical aberration. With soft focus lenses, massively so.

Hope this helps.

Mark Sawyer
7-Mar-2017, 18:46
BTW, soft focus was originally introduced by Dallmeyer in the Patent Portrait Lens, not to make "soft" images, but to spread the depth of field. If you look at the Verito image goamules just posted, you should notice two things:

1.) It has a very shallow depth of field.

2.) Both the dogs nose and eyes hare acceptably sharp, even though they're on different planes.

You can't reconcile those two things with a sharp lens.

jnanian
8-Mar-2017, 03:21
thanks for explanation and images ..
i've never noticed different focal planes
(and to be honest, i still dont' really see much of a difference).

cowanw
8-Mar-2017, 06:35
For chromatic aberration, different planes of focus show up as colour fringing if shoot in colour film?
For spherical aberration try focusing on a old style bare maglight bulb and watch the bulb change shape as you rack the focus.

goamules
8-Mar-2017, 06:44
With a soft focus lens there is never a plane of precise sharpness. With any other lens there is. You can look at a gravel driveway on the ground glass with a Petzval or Planar wide open, and see one line of sharp gravel, with falloff fore and aft, moving back and forth as you rack the focus. With a soft focus lens like a Kodak 405 wide open, you won't see any plane that is extremely sharp.

The first dog picture I posted had the sharp plane in front of or behind the dog somewhere, but it was there. The soft Verito shot the plane is right through the center of the dog's head. Just harder to tell.

Bob Salomon
8-Mar-2017, 07:40
EXACTLY, and you can get the EXACT same affect with with a "simple" close-up lens. Check out:

http://www.subclub.org/fujinon/close-up.htm

Wide open at 5.8 with no disk is the softest, first disk wide open is still 5.8 and is slightly sharper, close that disk and it is 7.7 and slightly sharper again, second disk wide open is still 7.7 and still a big sharper, closed that disk is 9.x and is sharper yet, third disk open is sharper again, fully closed the third disk is very sharp.
All of these effects are illustrated at each setting in the instruction book that comes with the Imagon and in any book about the Imagon. The effects are the same with the shorter, and faster 120 and 150 mm lenses that are 4.5 rather then 5.8.
On the more recent 300mm lens in Copal or Compur or Prontor Professional shutters the lenses only come with the second and third disks since the opening of the shutter physically prevents the lens being able to be used at 5.8.

Dan Fromm
8-Mar-2017, 07:40
For chromatic aberration, different planes of focus show up as colour fringing if shoot in colour film?


Yes. Boyer's Opale got its soft focus effect from chromatic aberration. My friend Eric Beltrando has several, tells me that "in color, the results are unattractive, with violet halos around clear zones."

jnanian
8-Mar-2017, 09:17
With a soft focus lens there is never a plane of precise sharpness. With any other lens there is. You can look at a gravel driveway on the ground glass with a Petzval or Planar wide open, and see one line of sharp gravel, with falloff fore and aft, moving back and forth as you rack the focus. With a soft focus lens like a Kodak 405 wide open, you won't see any plane that is extremely sharp.

The first dog picture I posted had the sharp plane in front of or behind the dog somewhere, but it was there. The soft Verito shot the plane is right through the center of the dog's head. Just harder to tell.

so whats the difference between "unsharp/not a plane of precise sharpness" and barely out of focus ?
IDK i've been using these lenses &c since the 90s and they just seemed soft/UNfocused ... not 2 or 3 zones of focus.
sorry, i guess it doesn't make much sense to me, so i guess i'm a lost cause to try to convince me there is a differences. i usually look through the
soft focus lens thread with examples of different lenses &c and not always, but they usually just look unfocused, not anything more than that.
some have a strong lighting thing going on to give a glow and a twinkle but a lot of these images are not much different than something i can do with something else ...
like the diopter xkaes mentioned ---i have used that stuff on regular lenses too and gotten similar effects like xkaes said, for years too, but i wasn't counting that stuff in my original post, it isn't just a lens .. but
the effect that a tessar or plain old RR or modern something or other, with something else strapped to it has a glow / fluidness / painterly quality / dreaminess that a i have never seen in a labelled soft focus lens and
and just like with a meniscus lens it is nearly impossible to focus with the focus knob just enlarging or reducing the image on the ground glass.
your 1st blurry photo of the dog could have proved my point if you adjusted the DOF a little bit and photographed the dog, barely infront or beyond its eyes and letting the DOF put
the dog in focus ,, not an extreme focus behind or infront of the dog ... but i guess it was to suggest there was a differnce between the 2 types of photographing..

jp
8-Mar-2017, 10:20
https://c1.staticflickr.com/2/1508/26239500230_e74a7063ce_c.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/FYGifo)
img936 (https://flic.kr/p/FYGifo) by Jason Philbrook (https://www.flickr.com/photos/13759696@N02/), on Flickr

This is with a 7.25" verito at about f5. No way a normal LF lens would have this sort of DOF at f5. It achieves it by having the different planes of focus caused by the spherical aberration. All 3 girls are at different distances and are all sort of soft but also sort of in focus. Only practice allows one to seat-of-the-pants-understand how this different DOF and softness+sharpness at different distances and how that translates visually with different light and subjects.

A magnifying glass or cheap doublet closeup lens can do similar. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rd5iU1NDYWA

cowanw
8-Mar-2017, 10:38
so whats the difference between "unsharp/not a plane of precise sharpness" and barely out of focus ?

Well one difference is that with a barely out of focus modern lens, something else will be in focus.

Jac@stafford.net
8-Mar-2017, 11:00
so whats the difference between "unsharp/not a plane of precise sharpness" and barely out of focus ?

The B&W dog photo is a beautiful example of the soft focus and strange depth. Look at the dog's right eye. Sharp! Then his nose. Fairly sharp. Between the eye and nose is soft, less focus. And especially look left his nose - see the whisker? Sharp!

Many thanks to goamules for the photo. I'm attaching a cropped version, cropped for economy of loading, not an improvement.

162310

Mark Sawyer
8-Mar-2017, 11:03
so whats the difference between "unsharp/not a plane of precise sharpness" and barely out of focus ?
IDK i've been using these lenses &c since the 90s and they just seemed soft/UNfocused ... not 2 or 3 zones of focus.
sorry, i guess it doesn't make much sense to me, so i guess i'm a lost cause to try to convince me there is a differences. i usually look through the soft focus lens thread with examples of different lenses &c and not always, but they usually just look unfocused, not anything more than that...

One problem you may be having is trying to judge images from low-resolution web scans. I'll have another go with an example from an old image. I made this with an uncorked Velostigmat Series II, set to "pretty soft". It looks soft to the point of being unfocused, right?

http://i55.photobucket.com/albums/g139/Owen21k/danaka2-1.jpg (http://s55.photobucket.com/user/Owen21k/media/danaka2-1.jpg.html)

But in finer resolution, (a cropped detail below), you can see there is a sharp image, defining individual eyelashes. An out-of-focus image wouldn't do that.

http://i55.photobucket.com/albums/g139/Owen21k/danaka2detail.jpg (http://s55.photobucket.com/user/Owen21k/media/danaka2detail.jpg.html)

jnanian
8-Mar-2017, 12:03
i'm sort of getting it now, focus but not, not focused but in focus dof but not from aperture setting ...
i 'll be going to my optometrist soon, thnks

Bob Salomon
8-Mar-2017, 13:28
i'm sort of getting it now, focus but not, not focused but in focus dof but not from aperture setting ...
i 'll be going to my optometrist soon, thnks

Maybe his will help. The Imagon is basically two lenses. The center of the lens is rather sharp and the periphery of the lens is softer. How much of the center of the lens you use depends on which disk you use. Each disk has a different size center hole. So the 250mm, for example, comes with 3 disks. The first is marked 5.8 to 7.7, it has the largest center hole, the middle disk is marked 7.7 to 9.9 and the third disk is marked from 9.9 to whatever.
Each disk has a ring of outer holes that can be opened or closed by rotating the outside of the disk. How open or closed those holes are controls how much of the peripheral area of the disk casts light over the central image. They can be used fully open, partially open or totally closed.
So the central area of an Imagon image is alwa˙ys sharp, the halo effect is controlled by which disk you use, how open or closed the outer holes are and the lighting ratio and the type of light you are using. The soft focus halo effect requires a strong spectral light source. Coincidentally, as has been mentioned earlier, lenses like the Imagon have more DOF then a regular lens of the same focal length.
This is one of the reasons why there is a learning curve to determine when the subject is in focus and, since the lens shifts focus with the disk in use and the opening or closing of the surrounding holes, that the lens can not be cammed to a Technika as there is no single point of sharp focus.

Randy
8-Mar-2017, 17:41
This is with a 190mm Wollaston Meniscus (Reinhold's) shot (probably - I can't find my notes) around f/9. It is rather difficult to focus because of the reasons others in this thread have expressed better than I can. I focused on the leaves laying inside the hollowed out top of the stump. They are not sharp but looking at the original you can see that they are the sharpest objects in the scan, but not by much. The near and distant objects in the image fall out of focus so gradually that it is impossible to find a line where "in focus" begins and ends. If you could look closely, even the trees beyond the stump show detail in the bark, and the leaves on their branches can be distinguished. I really enjoy this lens.

https://s19.postimg.org/5qkcvey6r/img829a.jpg (https://postimg.org/image/63br1lggf/)

jnanian
10-Mar-2017, 18:00
Maybe his will help. The Imagon is basically two lenses. The center of the lens is rather sharp and the periphery of the lens is softer. How much of the center of the lens you use depends on which disk you use. Each disk has a different size center hole. So the 250mm, for example, comes with 3 disks. The first is marked 5.8 to 7.7, it has the largest center hole, the middle disk is marked 7.7 to 9.9 and the third disk is marked from 9.9 to whatever.
Each disk has a ring of outer holes that can be opened or closed by rotating the outside of the disk. How open or closed those holes are controls how much of the peripheral area of the disk casts light over the central image. They can be used fully open, partially open or totally closed.
So the central area of an Imagon image is alwa˙ys sharp, the halo effect is controlled by which disk you use, how open or closed the outer holes are and the lighting ratio and the type of light you are using. The soft focus halo effect requires a strong spectral light source. Coincidentally, as has been mentioned earlier, lenses like the Imagon have more DOF then a regular lens of the same focal length.

This is one of the reasons why there is a learning curve to determine when the subject is in focus and, since the lens shifts focus with the disk in use and the opening or closing of the surrounding holes, that the lens can not be cammed to a Technika as there is no single point of sharp focus.

thank you bob, "2 lenses" makes a lot of sense !

==

randy that is really nice !