Saturday, January 9, 2016

Something Old, Something New, Part 2

Last year I shared an image that was taken using my oldest Nikon lens (a 1983 50mm f1.8 AI-S).  With today's post, I'm going one better.  This image was taken with the oldest lens that I still use, the exotic Sima 100mm f2 Soft Focus lens.  I purchased this lens in 1981, and it predates my 1983 switch to Nikon equipment.  Originally I used this lens with the Konica SLRs I was using at the time.  This lens uses a simple T-Mount adapter to attach to the camera, so when I switched to Nikon, I only needed to swap the Konica adapter for a Nikon one.

The Sima lens is a special-purpose soft-focus lens.  It consists of a single plastic lens element mounted at one end of a tube.  This tube slides back and forth inside a second tube that attaches to the camera.  Sliding the one tube inside the other is how the lens is focused.  The single element is why you end up with a soft image.  When I originally used the lens, I noticed my images had a distinct purple flare to them, so I glued a Cokin filer mount to the front of the lens.  A square UV filter in the holder reduces the purple tint and gives a more natural looking effect.

This isn't a lens you are going to use for every photo, but I find it a useful option for bridal portraits.  This lens gives a romantic, ethereal quality to the portraits.  Last month I was second-shooting a wedding for my friends at Platinum Fire Productions.  We had some extra time prior to the start of the ceremony, so I grabbed my soft-focus lens and asked the bride to stand by one of the large windows in the bridal room (soft window light is one of my "go-to" setups for portraits).  No need for any fill light, and no worries about the side lighting emphasizing imperfections.  A minute later I was done, with the lovely example above being one of my favorites.

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