Soft Focus is NOT “Out of Focus”

Vintage Soft Focus

Have you ever thought about these “soft focus” lenses that are out there? Ever wondered why anyone would want them in this modern age of digital post processing? Do you need one? Well, the answers may surprise you.

First let’s travel back to the 1930s and 40s when America was at the height of Hollywood Glamour. Back in those days one of the tools for making that soft and glowing glamour look was to use Vaseline on a clear glass filter. The Photographer could manipulate the layer to be thick on the perimeter and less so or even none on the face. This was done in an era where film had to be processed and printed largely by hand and took time. Getting it right with a technique that was at best only somewhat consistent required someone who was rather adept at the skill of prepping the lens for the glam shots.

As time marched on the filter companies began producing soft effect filters such as a ‘diffuser’, ‘softener’, ‘duto’, ‘centerspot’ and many more. These and others developed a following and many a page was written about the differences in the various types and why one is better than the other. There are notable differences in the way the various filters achieve a soft effect. The one key problem was having the effect isolated to specific areas. For example having tack sharp eyes and lips but a soft look everywhere else.

In the modern age of Photoshop, we can do some nice dreamy effects and can even imitate some of the style used over the years. But doing it right means taking a fair amount of time in post to pull it off. So enter the soft focus lens. I have two of them, the Canon FD 85mm f/2.8 Soft Focus and the slighter newer Canon EF 135mm f/2.8 Soft Focus. The former is an ideal portrait length for full frame waist up or even head and shoulders. A tight head shot might require getting uncomfortably close to the model. The latter gives a step or two more room when doing head shots. My personal feelings on this type of shot are that they are ideally suited for the glamour “close-up” shot. In that case the EF 135mm has an edge.

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Viltrox Launches EF-EF-M full AF Focal Reducer

I have been screaming for this, now someone has heard 🙂

I have been begging for Metabones to make a fully AF compatible focal reducer-speed booster for EOS EF to EOS EF-M. The annoying thing is that making it would require little engineering that Metabones hasn’t already done. Metabones makes an EOS EF to Sony E already. The flange distance on the EOS-M is identical to Sony E and the mount diameter is very similar as well. A simple mount bayonet and pass through electronics are all that is needed both of which have been in the third-party market for years. The Sony adapter required Metabones to make complex software translation hardware so that the Canon EF lens could “talk to” the Sony body. None of that is needed going EF to EF-M. So what is the deal Metabones?

Well Viltrox has done it. They launched an adapter in late October that allows the use of an EOS EF lens on the EOS M series cameras with full electronic communication. I bought it the second I could. I am here to say it works brilliantly and there are no optical issues I have found at all. This is my second EOS-EF to EF-M focal reducer I bought. The first was a cheap unit that had no electronics at all. I used that with several manual focus SLR lenses that I had converted to EF mount. That low-budget unit worked very well except it has a tendency to induced some weird flare in certain lighting situations. This Viltrox unit suffers no such issues.

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EOS-R Mirrorless is good for Classic Glass!

Below is an introduction and light review of Canon’s entry into the full frame mirrorless space that up till just recently was the near exclusive domain of Sony. Whether one chooses a Sony, Nikon, or this Canon EOS-R, the mirrorless cameras offer an amazing access to just about any lens on the planet. Once you get a mirrorless camera, shows like PhotoFair can bring you amazing classic glass with loads of character that you can use on your modern camera!