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Soft focus filter for portraits.

beverly hall , Oct 23, 2007; 08:09 p.m.

Need suggestions on which brand filter most duplicates the soft focus 'quality' of a Zeiss softar II filter for women portraiture, or is there nothing comparable? I have softar II on my hasselblad 500CM, but am trying to make the transition to digital with a Nikon D80 - 72mm 18-200 VR lens and will need the same look that my hasselblad w/softar II has always given, which women love! I would prefer to not have to shell out $225 for another softar II 72mm for the Nikon D80, if I can get the same quality with maybe one step down. I don't use photoshop so am trying to get the correct results in the camera. All ideas will be much appreciated. Beverly

Responses


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Russ Britt , Oct 23, 2007; 09:05 p.m.

I don`t think any filter is like a softar.....you will have to get an adapter or new softar I guess. I too like them for women portraits.

JDM von Weinberg , Oct 23, 2007; 11:54 p.m.

B+W sell a whole range of 35mm camera lens filters that are Softar Is or IIs. They are expensive.

There are also diffusion filters of different kinds available in Cokin filter holder square format, including some indicated as Softar.

Adorama, for example, has an actual Softar 58mm filter for sale at http://www.adorama.com/US%20%20%20%20257926.html for less than the price you indicate. What is the filter size on your existing Softar? I don't know whether a stop-down ring would interfere with the effect, though it is supposed to be insensitive to aperture, so maybe it would work.

Kelly Hughes , Oct 24, 2007; 12:07 a.m.

There was a site that did comparisons of several softening filters. I didn't save the link, but Google should turn it up if you're interested. I remember that I liked the look of the Tiffen SoftFX2 best, and got one of those for my 645/645N family. I also seem to recall that the FX2 was the easiest to "imitate" with a DIY version.... spraying aerosol hairspray in the air and breezing a UV filter through it and hoping for an even dispersal. Didn't work well? Wet wipe it away and try again. Sounded fun, but I didn't feel like getting sticky so I just bought one. ;)

Ronald Moravec , Oct 24, 2007; 12:12 a.m.

Nothing works the same and get the #1 as more magnification is required for smaller format and the results will be equal or MORE soft. I would tell you softar 1/2 if there was such a thing.

Actually when you get digital, create a dup layer in ps, apply gaussian blur 5 to 8 pixels and then adjust the layer opacity to get exactly what you want. You can also erase or lower the soft effect in the eyes lips and clothing and leave the skin glowing. Digi got all over film for this.

I don`t bother with any filter. Have a Imagon for my Leica which puts the my softars to shame. digi is better yet.

Try what I said before you buy anything.

beverly hall , Oct 24, 2007; 09:48 a.m.

Referencing response from Ronald, Zeiss Hasselblad Softar filters are as follows: #1 - least softness #2- middle softness - #3 - most softness. So to get "more magnification for smaller format," 35mm, would I get the #3 rather than #1 for same effect as #2 w/medium format? I do not want 'more' softness than I get now - it is enough.In your reply above, you imply that the #1 gives 'more' softness, but actually #3 is the most. I am saving your suggestion for ps in case I ever get it, but for now, just want to get filter..easier than learning ps. Am assuming "Imagon" is a Leica lens..not a filter...nothing I can adapt to my Nikon D80?

Mike Earussi , Oct 24, 2007; 10:37 a.m.

Hoya makes their own version of the Softar for a fraction of the Zeiss price. http://www.thkphoto.com/products/hoya/sdef-07.html

Oskar Ojala , Oct 24, 2007; 11:52 a.m.

Either get a second hand softar that's large enough (might be hard) or get a portrait lens for your Nikon that can use your current softar or do the soft effect in post-processing digitally.

Regarding option 2, I find that I have no trouble using a B50 softar with my Nikkor 50/1.4 and with the DSLR crop that makes for a suitable portrait lens. If your softar is B60, then you're in luck, most portrait primes will work well with that. 18-200 is not a good portrait lens IMO, too slow, too many compromises and the whole focal length range isn't needed.

Nadine Ohara - SF Bay Area/CA , Oct 24, 2007; 06:43 p.m.

Look at the following thread.

http://photo.net/bboard/q-and-a-fetch-msg?msg_id=00JGL6

In my tests, the Pro 4 set of filters comes the closest to the Zeiss. However, what I ended up doing was having a custom adapter ring made to step from a Bay 60 filter to my Canon 58mm lens. $80 from E.K. Grimes in Woonsocket, RI. 401-762-0857. Works great for me. I use the #2 Softar with my Canons. Or haunt e-bay.

Nadine Ohara - SF Bay Area/CA , Oct 24, 2007; 06:56 p.m.

Also, so far, I don't think Photoshop can duplicate the effect of the Softar. Its just, well--too digital. However, I'd be very interested if someone could show me a way to do it.

As for smaller formats needing less softening--just hold the Softar over your Nikon lens and take pictures. Do you like the effect? That's the test.


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