Soft focus filter for portraits.

Discussion in 'Medium Format' started by beverly_hall, Oct 23, 2007.

  1. 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
  2. I don`t think any filter is like a will have to get an adapter or new softar I guess. I too like them for women portraits.
  3. 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 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.
  4. 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. ;)
  5. 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.
  6. 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?
  7. Hoya makes their own version of the Softar for a fraction of the Zeiss price.
  8. 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.
  9. Look at the following thread.

    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.
  10. 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.
  11. One DIY solution (the results of which, admittedly, might not meet your standards) which will only cost you a couple of bucks, is to find an old, marred skylight filter in the "junk drawer" at your local used camera shop and drip small droplets of clear nail polish on its surface. Adjust the density and size of these droplets to taste. Definitely not a Softar, but a total cost of about five dollars.
  12. The approach I took was:

    Find a B60 filter at your favorite online or local dealer, preferably scratched and beat up

    Get a step up adapter, I used a hoyarex 77mm adapter, glue part b to part a. I keep some JBWeld steel around for my photo projects, it dries a real dark gray and works quite well.

    Go out shooting and marvel at the money you saved. (be sure not to tell the wife, as she'll immediately make plans for the "saved" money.)


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