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Friday Slide Show: Focusing Softly Share This on LinkedIn   Tweet This   Forward This

11 March 2022

The Lensbaby announcement this week of its Soft Focus II optic with the accompanying YouTube presentation featuring beta testers showing off their captures inspired us.

What if we took a break from our constant wringing of every drip of sharpness out of an image with Clarity and Smart Sharpening and took a series of photos that were intentionally soft?

Not blurry, but soft.

We have the original Lensbaby Soft Focus, so we popped it into a Composer and mounted it on our Canon Rebel XTi. Then, inspired by one of the presenters, we screwed both the +10 an +4 macro converters to the front of the optic.

Soft macros? Well, why not?

We hunted around for close-ups that would have made interesting sharp compositions and shot them soft.

The optic's aperture disc has a circular opening in the middle which is surrounded by a pattern of rows of smaller circles. A perforated aperture, in short. There are three of different discs with various size apertures and surrounding patterns. We used the largest and smallest for our experiment.

Aperture. This capture from a point light source reveals the structure of one of the three soft focus apertures.

It was actually great fun.

First of all, it was easy to focus. The larger circle in the center of the aperture made focusing easy. We could see what was in focus in the viewfinder much more clearly than the final soft image might suggest.

So it was always a surprise to look at the capture.

We focused on the sharp edge of a utility knife blade, for example, but ended up with something wholly unexpected. A stockboy's dream, perhaps.

The lens had the same effect on a few of our figurines, which we prefer to refer to as staff members. Shot in sharp focus, you can see they're just toys. But shoot soft focus and you see what characters they are. It's like throwing a staff Christmas party.

A few more common household items took on a new aura. And certainly lighting played a role. We had to remind ourselves of our Friday deadline or we would never have stopped trying things.

Even when there wasn't much light and plenty of camera movement, we didn't think the images suffered. That just added to the effect, although we haven't shown any of those here.

Give Lensbaby credit. The company has invented some affordable accessories to make using your camera more fun than you might ever have imagined.

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