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Thread: Soft focus v Out of focus

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    Soft focus v Out of focus

    Hi. I see lots of comments about 'soft focus' but cannot get my head around why the image is classified as such. Is soft focus an element all by itself for reasons unknown to me, or is it really just a version of 'out of focus'. Meaning pretty close but you just missed. If there is a diffenernce, what are the reasons soft focus occurs.

    Looking forward to some good answers - Thanks.

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    can't remember
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    Well, here is a bad answer.

    There is soft focus (the sort of warm and fuzzy look photographers aim for to do soppy romantic greeting cards). This is apparently a good thing in its place, and there even used to be lenses specially designed to do it.

    And there is soft focus (not quite sharp - not exactly out of focus, but not quite in focus either). This is a bad thing.

    The second one is easy enough to understand. The first one I frankly don't understand, but I'm sure some kind soul will be along to explain it to us soon enough.
    Tony

    Edit and critique at will. Tokina 10-17 fish, Canon 10-22, 24-105, 100-400, TS-E 24, 35/1.4, 60 macro, 100L macro, 500/4, Wimberley, MT-24EX, 580EX-II, 1D IV, 7D, 5D II, 50D.

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    Ausphotography Regular agb's Avatar
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    Canon still have a soft focus lens. And on this site you can see the effect in a sample photo.
    http://www.usa.canon.com/cusa/consum...with_softfocus
    The age of entitlement isn't over, it's just over there where you can't get to it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by alf6 View Post
    Hi. I see lots of comments about 'soft focus' but cannot get my head around why the image is classified as such. Is soft focus an element all by itself for reasons unknown to me, or is it really just a version of 'out of focus'. Meaning pretty close but you just missed. If there is a diffenernce, what are the reasons soft focus occurs.

    Looking forward to some good answers - Thanks.
    As others have stated;

    1/ There are specific 'soft focus lenses' which may have a dial or similar to change the soft focus effect. In this case the image itself is always sharp but aberrations are added to give it a glow or softness. They are portrait lenses and not general purpose lenses.

    2/ 'Soft filters' can be used on a lens to give the image a softness which can be useful for to hide skin blemishes. These days that's all done in photoshop however I prefer softness to the plastic look so common these days. Soft filters can even be things like hosiery stretched tight over a lens, or vaseline on a UV/Skylight filter on the lens although specific 'soft filters' also exist.

    3/ If an image is described as 'soft' than maybe it has nothing to do with the above and is simply not very sharp, ie slightly out of focus or lacking sharpness for some other reason. Alternatively the lens itself might not be very sharp there fore rendering a 'soft' image, even if it is accurately focused. Many fast lenses are not very sharp wide open so the images may be a little soft.

    JJ

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    Sunrise Chaser
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    Hi there Alf, Just an example of an in Focus shot , With a "Soft Focus" applied in PP , Gives you a dreamy look , Works well with Trees in the shot ,


    "Normal , In Focus"




    "Soft Focus applied in PP"



    Cheers Bill
    Canon : 30D, and sometimes the 5D mkIII , Sigma 10-20, 50mm 1.8, Canon 24-105 f4 L , On loan Sigma 120-400 DG and Canon 17 - 40 f4 L , Cokin Filters




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    Yep, some lenses will give you a 'soft' look (my crabby 55-250 kit lens is a shocker) at the high or low end of the zoom.

    Many people will use the term 'soft' loosely but I think if someone is showing you an image and says the word 'soft' in the description, then it is probably intentionally soft, like a dreamy look. If someone is giving critique and uses the word 'soft' than they are most probably stating it is oof.
    Monika
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    Check out my Flickr photos ... http://www.flickr.com/photos/missmonny/
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    You also need to differentiate between soft photos being out of focus compared to motion blur caused by a too low a shutter speed. Both contribute, or can contribute

    I've also heard all Canon lenses are soft, but that could just be scuttlebutt
    Darren
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    Arch-Σigmoid Ausphotography Regular ameerat42's Avatar
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    Good demo, WIlliam.
    I once made up a "soft focus" filter, and it worked! I got a piece of translucent baking paper, about 2 inches square, cut a round hole in the middle about 1/2 inch across, then with what remained, cut about 20 triangular fingers into it so that they all pointed in towards the central hole. The whole lot was mounted on a lens using a made up cardboard mount. It worked on lenses that had an aperture more than about 1 inch.

    A reportedly common method was to lightly smear some sort of vaseline around the edge of a clear filter, like a UV filter and shoot thru that.
    Am.
    CC, Image editing OK.

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    Site Rules Breach - Permanent Ban
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    Glad wrap
    With or without a hole of various sizes.
    Col

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    Sir Rattus79 - The Proclaimant
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    Just a point, "soft lenses" still don't bounce... Please dont' try this at home.
    Greg Bartle,
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    Amor fati! ving's Avatar
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    canon, the king of soft focus!

    I dont really understand the need for a lens that purposely makes thing OOF, but there you go. as stated there are filters that will do this. but its really easy to just not focus sharply.

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    Member dannat's Avatar
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    Good thread alf, I know my eyes are slightly wrecked from a couple of years of microscope work but I often have trouble detecting a soft image ( from poor lens/ focus) while others quickly tell me...that's sharp / that's soft,,,I am thinking huh what's the big diff?
    Oly e500 zd14-54 zd70-300
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