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© Ute Reckhorn

© Ute Reckhorn

Shooting Creatively with the Soft Focus Optic II


  • 4 min read

Lensbaby Soft Focus II | ISO | 100 | 1/3200 | Nikon D750


Lensbaby has re-created my favorite optic of all time – The soft-focus optic, now in version two. The original optic is no longer made and has become a sought-after optic. The reason for that is because this optic has the look of a Lomography art lens, which produces a silky soft, artful image reminiscent of the pictorial period of photography.

 

Lensbaby Soft Focus II | ISO | 500 | 1/250 | Nikon D750,
 
 

When the original optic was launched about twelve years ago, it was an immediate favorite, which produces a sharp underlying image with a soft velvety overlay across the whole image.


The effect was created by using a choice of three magnetic discs, which also served as an aperture, depending on the sized holes in your chosen disc (concentric holes around a larger sized hole in the middle of the disc for center sharpness). Fast forward to the new Soft Focus II Optic, which has even more features to further enhance your creative options. The optic fits inside the Composer Pro like the old optic did, using the optic swap system.

However, this optic has added an internal 12 blade manually adjusted aperture range from f/2.5 to f/22. The soft-focus II has the same original designed multi-hole apertures and also comes with one specialty sunburst-shaped creative aperture disc.


You now can shoot wide open or stop down the 12-blade internal aperture and choose to fine-tune the effect with one of the magnetic discs placed on the outside of the front lens element.

Here I have chosen to use only the internal aperture blade at f/2 with no magnetic disc. The points of light are turned into large bubbles of bokeh.

 

Lensbaby Soft Focus II | ISO | 1250 | 1/80 | Nikon D750
 

 


"You can create everything from ethereal landscapes and portraits to flower images, using light that looks dreamy and magic with a soft, diffused appearance."


 

When using a drop-in round holed creative aperture disc, you can create out-of-focus highlights from bright points of light, which take form in the holed shapes.

 

Lensbaby Soft Focus II | ISO | 500 | 1/100 | Nikon D750
 
 
Lensbaby Soft Focus II | ISO | 500 | 1/100 | Nikon D750
 
 

You can create everything from ethereal landscapes and portraits to flower images, using light that looks dreamy and magic with a soft, diffused appearance. When starting out with this optic, it is easier to control the effect by using low contrast backgrounds with even light. Another tip is to shoot your first few images using just the internal aperture at about f/4 to get a feel for the softness with detail and then add one of the magnetic aperture discs to compare the difference in effect – depending on your light and background. When adding the disc, you may notice some extra painterly detail rendered in bokeh. Stopping down apertures on the internal aperture, such as f/8 or more, will give you sharp images in the center and out-of-focus edges on a full-frame sensor.

An aperture of f/8 was used in the images below for center detail, yet soft diffusion, which is framed in a vignette of soft-focus near the edges.

 

Lensbaby Soft Focus II | ISO | 500 | 1/200 | Nikon D750

 

Lensbaby Soft Focus II | ISO | 100 | 1/640 | Nikon D750

 

Lensbaby Soft Focus II | ISO | 500 | 1/60 | Nikon D750

A beautiful soft lomo look can be achieved for portraits and flowers, yet underlying detail when used wider open at f/2 and f/2.5, with or without one of the aperture discs in place.

 

Lensbaby Soft Focus II | ISO | 1250 | 1/50 | Nikon D750

No Aperture Disc Inserted

 

Lensbaby Soft Focus II | ISO | 250 | 1/50 | Nikon D750

Large Hole Aperture Disc

The soft-focus optic II can be used with all macro accessories, including the Lensbaby 46mm macro kit, converters, or an extension tube to get closer. If you want to create a look of softness with beautiful detail and color, this optic gives you an array of creative options to mix up your own unique recipe with the subject of your choice.

 

Lensbaby Soft Focus II with 12mm ext. tube| ISO | 320 | 1/100 | Nikon D750


 

Want your shots featured by Lensbaby?⁠
Be bold and shoot extraordinary! Make sure to tag your photos on IG with #Lensbaby, #ShootExtraordinary, and let us know what gear you’re using. 📸 ⁠

 


Gerri Jones

Gerri started her journey with her camera in 2000 as a creative outlet. She enjoys photographing all subjects and especially the challenge of new ways to see through the creative use of Lensbaby lenses. Gerri is a Lensbaby Ambassador and has been a featured speaker/instructor at regional camera clubs and conferences. Gerri’s images have been featured in several publications, including Nature’s Best Magazine, Erie Canal Statewide Photo Calendars, Tourism Guides, The Discover Buffalo Niagara Calendars, and several local commercial proposals. She also has reviewed several photography books for development by Focal Press Publications. Gerri resides in Buffalo, New York.

 

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