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Lens Characteristics: Soft-Focus
The blurring that occurs both in front of and behind a subject serves to isolate it and gives the image a delicate, floating feeling, without detracting from the overall expression. While focal length and aperture both influence the amount of soft-focus produced, it is ultimately the lens' remaining aberration and aperture blades that create an attractive or unpleasant soft-focus. Beautiful soft-focus is said to be generally smooth, not irritating, without lines and other distractions.

Beautiful Soft-Focus
A beautiful soft-focus is generally said to start from the in-focus area of a subject and gently transform into an evenly blurred background, giving a feeling of distance that is not distracting and lends the image a soft nuance.
 
A beautiful soft-focus lends a feeling of realism and depth.
 
A delicate soft-focus makes a subject look more attractive.
 
Unattractive Soft-Focus
When soft-focusing causes lines to become doubled, it is called a "double line" effect and is the most common form of an unattractive soft-focus. If a fixed light source is used, light reflecting off background surfaces can become multi-sided like the shape of the aperture blades, which can be unattractive, depending on the shape of the lens' aperture.
 
Doubled lines cause the background to become distracting and unattractive.
 
Unattractive soft-focus can also be caused when aperture-like shapes clutter the background.
 
Aperture blades change the soft-focus look.
The shape and number of aperture blades has a large effect on the soft-focus produced. A large number of aperture blades creates a circular aperture that produces a beautifully rounded, delicate soft-focus.

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