Canon FD Resources - Short Telephoto lenses
New FD 85mm f/2.8 Soft Focus


Soft focus New FD 85mm f/2.8

Among the top five manufacturers, not many of them are offering a dedicated soft focus lens within their lineup (aside from Canon, I think only Minolta has such a lens as well..). This special application lens from Canon fills the need for additional soft focus shooting capabilities in 85mm "portrait" lenses of which before its availability, such effects can only be achieved by means of soft focus filters.


Another major advantage is that this lens can also be used for general photography as well. In the normal setting, high-contrast, sharp pictures can also be photographed. Set in one of the soft focus settings, all types of aberrations other than spherical aberrations are minimized and the amount of light in the peripheral area is optimally compensated for.

This ensures uniform brightness and a consistent degree of softening over the entire picture area. Varying the distance between the front and rear lens groups adjusts the degree of softening. There are four adjustment positions: normal, soft-focus 1, 2 and 3. Focusing can be accomplished while in the "normal" setting by turning the lens ring. Sliding the same ring outwards switches over to a soft focus setting.

Under most photographic situations, one would expect a lens must have high optical quality in order to produce sharp, crisp pictures, and usually photographers strive for the best possible sharpness. This unique soft-focus lens from Canon, however, creates beautiful and "romantic" pictures by slightly blurring the image. Soft focusing techniques are especially effective when shooting portraits and scenery, as they suffuse the entire scene with a soft, mellow atmosphere.

The most important point to keep in mind when using a soft-focus lens is that you are not shooting out-of-focus pictures although the images when view from the negatives with the naked eye, do look like blurred ones. You must also try to focus as accurately as possible, even though the resulting image is soft-focused.

A less expensive and conventional way to achieve a soft-focus impression is to attach a special softfocus filter (known as Softmat types) to a conventional lens. If this is the case, why would we require a soft focus lens ? Because, conventional method of attaching a soft focus filter does not create soft-focus effects over the entire picture area, though; it merely causes halos around the highlights. Filters provide only a slight blur; to attain profound soft-focus effects consistent over the entire picture area, a dedicated type soft-focus lens presents a significant advantage in the eventual image captured.

The diagrams below show the lens construction of the FD 85mm f/2.8 soft-focus lens. The upper diagram shows the lens set for normal photography. The lower diagram illustrates how the front and rear lens groups are positioned when the lens is in the soft-focus 3 setting. (Note: There are three degrees of soft-focus: 1, 2 and 3.) Varying the distance between the lens groups causes consistent soft-focus effects to be obtained over the entire picture area.


The strong point of this lens is that soft-focusing is done by varying the distance between lens groups, similar to the concept of a zoom lens. Precise focusing is thus possible in the normal setting, just as it is with conventional interchangeable lenses. In addition, the lens features excellent operability with its one ring operation system for both focusing and soft-focus adjustments.

This lens has a strong external resemblance of a zoom lens and sometimes, it can create a misunderstanding from an inexperienced sales assistant who may regard it as a used zoom unit (try your luck...). The degree to which you will want to soften the picture will depend on your preference and subject. Normally, picture contrast decreases in proportion to the degree of softening. Various techniques can be used to compensate for this flattened contrast, such as increasing contrast with special lighting. Since aperture size greatly influences the softening effect, it is also important to carefully control the aperture setting. With all these factors to consider, adjusting the degree of softening to achieve optimum artistic results is certainly not easy to master. After practice and experience, however, you too can use the 85mm soft-focus lens to give your pictures an impressionistic mood.


Focal length: 85mm
Aperture ratio: 1:2.8

Lens construction: 4 groups, 6 elements
Coating: S. S. C. (super spectra coating)
Angles of view: Diagonal 28~30' Vertical 1 6° Horizontal 24°
Distance scale: (m) 0.8 (magnification 0.1 2X) to 10 .
OO (ft) 2.75 to 30.OO
Focusing: Helicoid
Soft focus adjustment: O (Normal), 1, 2 and 3 - Four marked
Minimum aperture: f/22 A
Diaphragm: Automatic
Filter size: 58mm
Hood: BT-58
Function: Auto Aperture, Full aperture metering (AE operation when used with ALL Canon automatic SLR cameras.
Length x max. diameter: 69.6 mm (Normal) x 70 mm
Weight: 375g

The current version of the EF Soft Focus lens is an autofocus EF 135mm f2.8 Soft Focus. Obviously, it cannot be used with any of the previous FD based Canon SLR cameras. Like the FD 85mm version, it is also a high quality telephoto lens for normal use, a portion of the optical system can be moved when necessary to vary the degree of spherical aberration for a beautiful soft focus effect.

A glass-molded aspherical lens is used for the aberration-generating element. Two degrees of softness can be selected according to the application, and the degree of softness can be further adjusted by varying the aperture size.

Mount: Canon Autofocus EF mount; Closest focusing Distance: 1.3m, Construction: 7 elements in 6 groups; angle of View: 18 degree; Focusing adjustment: Rear Focusing System with AFD; Filter size: 52mm; Length X Diameter x Weight: 98.4mm x 69.2mm; 390g.

Canon EOS SLRs | Canon EF lens Resources

| Back | Main Index Page of Canon FD lenses
| Back | Main Index Page of Canon A & T Series SLR Models

| Message Board | for your Canon A-Series SLR camera(s)
| Message Board | for your Canon T-Series SLR camera(s)
| Message Board | for your Canon T90 SLR camera
| Message Board | for your Canon F-1(n) SLR camera
| Message Board | for your New Canon F-1 SLR camera

| Message Board | for your Canon Optics in a shared environment
| Message Board | Specifically for Dispose or Looking for Canon Photographic Equipment

about this Site

MIR Logo.gif

Home - Photography in Malaysia

Copyright © 2000. leofoo ®. MIR Web Development Team.

Site Maintainance Editors: Kaipin, Terry Carraway, Gerry, Winston, Tom & IRwin (Dr Strangelove); Credit: Richard Yeow, general manager of Canon Marketing for his continual support; Mr. Philip Chong, who volunteered to be a Maintainer of this site; Mr. Vincent Thian, an AP (Associated Press) photographer for contributing some of the great images appeared in this site; Mr CYLeow, photo-editor of The Star newspaper for some of his images used; my nephew EEWynFoo for helping so much of the tedious scanning works. And TO ALL THE CANON GURUS: Thank you for helping so much with the input of so much of invaluable information at the various Canon Message Boards. Site created 'unfortunately again with a PowerMac.