I've had so much fun working with the Soft Focus 2 Optic over the past month. So much that I'm finding it hard to pull myself away from testing and back to my other lenses; I love all my Lensbaby lenses, but this optic had inspired me, especially when I was feeling a bit of the mid-winter blah and I wasn't finding anything motivating me to push through to the other side. This optic snapped me right back into my place of creativity, and I'm so thankful for that!
I've had a month to work with this optic, and I've quickly become quite smitten. I love this optic and feel it pairs incredibly well with my style of imagery which I would describe as nostalgic with vintage vibes. This optic is a vintage-loving girl's dream! The overall softness of this optic helps me achieve memory-like qualities with minimal editing, and I love the dreaminess and glow.
If I had to explain this optic in a few words, they would be:
Dreamy, soft, glow, and gentle. I feel these words do an excellent job describing this optic in my experience.
I first gravitated to working between F4 and F8 with this optic. This sweet spot allowed me to create strong storytelling images with a beautiful focus. You'll also get a gorgeous glow when shooting at lower F stops. However, the real magic lies in the glow and overall softness the optic imparts.
I find the super-sharpness of modern cameras takes away from the vintage look I desire. This optic helps take me back to a glimpse of previous days and increases the nostalgic mood. I can somewhat mimic a film style with this optic, especially when adding some grain in the
In the image below, I went with the higher F stop (between F4 and F8 for this series) to focus more on my main subject and surrounding area while still getting that overall soft focus over the entire frame. Again, I love how it takes the harsh edge off and creates that subtle overall softness.
"Dreamy, soft, glow, and gentle. I feel these words do an excellent job describing this optic in my experience."
After working more with the Soft Focus 2, I wanted to see what I could achieve with a lower F stop, pushing the softness and glow. The glow is similar to the Velvet line yet fresh and different.
I was inspired to create a self-portrait series to push the glow and dreaminess. I shot this series at F2.8 for all that softness and glow goodness. I also selected soft clothing and props. To enhance softness-cashmere and pussy willows. I knew this optic would be perfect for my vision and a great way to experiment with this optic at a lower F stop. I wanted an almost ethereal feel to the image, and this optic was delivered. As you can see in the images below, the lower F stop incorporated a gorgeous glow and an intense, dreamy feel to my pictures.
Working at a lower F stop is a bit trickier in finding focus with the Soft Focus 2, but it becomes easier over time with patience and training your eye. Focus peaking is somewhat new to me, so I'm used to using Lensbaby's without this feature. In my experience, focus peaking worked well for finding focus above F4. Lower than F4, the focus peaking became barely visible, so I had to rely on seeing the guide without the assistance of focus peaking. This optic has quickly moved to my favourites list, and I don't foresee that changing soon.
If you want to take advantage of this optic's full glow and softness, you may have to work harder to find focus. That said, it's super fun and rewarding and definitely wouldn't hold me back from working with this optic. There will be a slight learning curve as with Lensbaby's, but the creative results are tenfold worth the effort! Here's to creating with the Soft Optic 2 and all the goodness Lensbaby has designed for creatives! I hope my thoughts on the Soft Focus 2 are insightful and shed some light on this new optic. Please feel free to reach out to me directly if you have any questions!
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Hollie Jeakins is a photographer residing in Ontario, Canada with her husband and two children. She enjoys using vintage and Lenbaby lenses to capture childhood moments, food, people and products in a way that creates compelling stories that evoke feelings of nostalgia from the viewer.