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© Ute Reckhorn

© Ute Reckhorn

Creating Images with the Soft Focus II Optic


  • 4 min read

Lensbaby Soft Focus II | ISO | 500 | 1/80 | Nikon Z 7ii

Small Holes Disk


The Soft Focus Optic is part of the Lensbaby Optic Swap System. If you’re not familiar with the Optic Swap System, here’s how it works: you require a special lens body (housing) to hold the optics, the most popular body is the Composer Pro II, but there’s also the Spark and a Straight Body, as well as some older styles that have been discontinued. The lens body or housing attaches to your camera in the same way as any lens. The Soft Focus optic, and all optics, will work with any of these lens bodies. They are completely interchangeable.

 

Lensbaby Soft Focus II | ISO | 1600 | 1/2500 | Nikon Z 7ii
No Disk
 
 

You may be wondering if Soft Focus means the image is always going to be soft and lacking in detail. The answer is no. This optic is able to produce an extremely soft, dreamy look or crisp detail and everything in between. With an aperture range of f/2.5 - f/22, you can achieve a wide range of detail. When I’m looking for that lovely glow and shooting without creative aperture disks, my favourite aperture is somewhere between f/2.8 and f/4. If you love glow but want to add more detail, you can achieve this with most post-processing software, don’t be afraid to pull those sliders up to bring more detail into your final image.

 

Lensbaby Soft Focus II | ISO | 1000 | 1/320 | Nikon Z 7ii
No Disk
 

 

Creative Aperture Disks

The Soft Focus Optic comes with several creative aperture disks. The effect of the disks is visible in a couple of different ways but is most obvious when shooting with a wide aperture when there are specular highlights in the frame. Stopping down the aperture will make the effect of the disks more subtle. In highlighted areas, you’ll see the shape of the disk. If there are no specular highlights in your frame, you can still take advantage of the disks. They have an interesting way of adding more detail to the overall image. This added detail is partly due to the aperture disk having a narrowing effect on the aperture itself, so you’re essentially stopping down, but the disks also add their own character within the detail. If you own a creative aperture kit, try inserting different disks and even stacking them to add a unique effect. You can control the detail in your images using a combination of aperture disks and the aperture dial on the optic.

 

Lensbaby Soft Focus II | ISO | 2000 | 1/200 | Nikon Z 7ii

Small Holes Disk


"The effect of the disks is visible in a couple of different ways but is most obvious when shooting with a wide aperture when there are specular highlights in the frame"


Lensbaby Soft Focus II | ISO | 2000 | 1/320 | Nikon Z 7ii
Small Holes Disk
 
 

Colour rendering with the Soft Focus Optic

Colours are more subtle and muted when the optic is at its widest aperture. This can give a lovely ethereal look to your images with a hint of pastels.

 

Lensbaby Soft Focus II | ISO | 200 | 1/25 | Nikon Z 7ii

No Disk

 

Lensbaby Soft Focus II | ISO | 320 | 1/3200 | Nikon Z 7ii

Medium Holes Disk

 

Tilting

Tilting this optic has a subtle effect and introduces a little blur to the image, related to the tilt angle. When there are lights or specular highlights, Tilting will show a more dramatic effect in those parts of the image.

 

Lensbaby Soft Focus II | ISO | 100 | 1/60 | Nikon Z 7ii

Medium Holes Disk

 

Lensbaby Soft Focus II | ISO | 100 | 1/100 | Nikon Z 7ii

 

How is the Soft Focus Optic different from the Velvet Lenses

It’s fair to say this optic has some similarities to the Velvets, but there are also important differences, the most obvious being the Velvets are standalone lenses that are heavier and more substantial than any optic. The Soft Focus Optic is one of the lightest optics, which makes it super portable. The Velvet 56 is closest in focal length to this optic, so it’s the most relevant for comparison.

 

Lensbaby Soft Focus II | ISO | 100 | 1/4000 | Nikon Z 7ii

No Disk

 

I noticed much more glow with the Soft Focus Optic at the widest apertures when comparing these two. On the Soft Focus Optic, the Velvet 56 has a maximum aperture of f/1.6 vs. f/2.5, but the Soft Focus has more glow at f/2.5 than the Velvet 56 at f/1.6. Another significant difference is the ability to use creative aperture disks with the optic. You can’t do this with any of the Velvets.

 

Lensbaby Soft Focus II | ISO | 500 | 1/80 | Nikon Z 7ii

There’s also less of an investment when purchasing an optic rather than a standalone lens. Am I still going to use my Velvets? Yes, there’s a different feel to the glow. The Soft Focus Optic and Velvets all provide glow, but the glow is different. The Soft Focus Glow is more ethereal, dreamy, and nostalgic. If you’re looking for a fun, super portable, and affordable option, the Soft Focus is ideal for you.

 

Lensbaby Soft Focus II | ISO | 64 | 1/125 | Nikon Z 7ii

Large Holes Disk


 

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. 📸 ⁠

 


Jan Heastont

Jan is a Canadian photographer, originally from Scotland. She lives on a farm in beautiful Haldimand County, Ontario, near the shores of Lake Erie. The places she has lived and the people in her life, have inspired her to follow her dreams and pursue her love of photography.

 

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