What does a Lensbaby do? Welcome to my guide on Lensbaby lenses!
Here’s a question:
How do you elevate your photo and video skills without touching any editing software?
One word: Lensbaby.
The idea was actually born when I was writing an article on freelensing (lens whacking) technique that you can use to create unique shots.
But why free-lens when you can use Lensbaby, right? So this post is for you if you’re looking to learn more about this wonderful creative corner in the world of photography.
I’ll go over what exactly a Lensbaby is, what it’s used for, and the lenses worth considering.
Let’s begin with our definitions.
What Is Lensbaby?
First things first:
What is Lensbaby?
A lensbaby is a type of lens or optic for your camera that creates a plethora of different effects to your photos and videos.
These effects range from creating special bokeh, to soft glow around your subjects, even to manipulating perspectives (for example, tilt-shift photography).
Lensbaby products can come as either just a lens, an optic, or a collection of lenses and optics.
Some of those are compatible with specific types of cameras than others. For example, the Sol 45 lens is compatible with DSLR and Mirrorless cameras, while the Sol 22 is only compatible with Micro 4/3rds cameras.
This brand also manufactures attachments for their lenses.
Their “OMNI Creative Filter System” is a collection of add-ons that attach to your lens to produce additional effects to your pictures, specifically designed with Lensbaby lenses in mind.
And if filters are not what you’re looking for, they offer optic options for you to choose from. Mods galore!
==> Check out my review of the best Lensbaby lenses.
So, which unusual effects are possible with the Lensbaby lens? Let’s delve a little deeper and find out more.
The Effects: What Does a Lensbaby Do?
Lensbaby Sol 45 for Nikon F
45mm fixed f/3.5 Selective Focus Lens
Creative Bokeh Blades add creative effects and texture
8.5º of tilt and center-focus locking ability
Focuses from 14inches to Infinity
46mm Filter Threads
The following optics are Lensbaby’s most popular line of optics.
Let’s start with the Velvet line, a perfect choice for anybody looking to capture dreamy scenes.
They specialize in creating soft glows around the edge of their subjects.
They’re also capable of achieving incredible focus, so you know those close-up shots are gonna look extra sharp
The Edge line is a great choice for anyone who wants more selective control of blurred edges.
As a result, these optics are great for highlighting your subjects.
The effect also produces vivid bokeh particles, and can even manipulate perspectives, making them seem like miniatures.
Another optic specializing in bokeh is the Sweet Spot line. Their specialty, though, is in emulating motion.
What makes the Sweet Spot’s motion stand out so much is its ability to create dream-like compositions, almost like you’re experiencing a dream in real life.
Taking a picture with a Sweet Spot optic is like zooming as you press the shutter button, except your subject does not come out the wrong kind of blurry.
Much like the Sweet Spot, the Swirl line is perfect for, you guessed it, creating swirly effects in your photos.
These optics are great for centering all the attention on your subject. The swirly motion effect emulates moving surroundings while maintaining a static foreground.
The result is a subject that has your full attention as the world around it is in perceived constant motion.
Anybody looking to snag one of these optics can start by trying out either the Composer Pro lens or the Spark lens:
On the one hand, the Composer Pro is made up of a metal ball and socket mechanism that allows the optic to move around the mechanism.
On the other hand, the Spark allow you to squeeze and stretch the lens. Both options are great lenses for beginner photographers.
Where to buy Lensbaby lenses online? Check price and availability on:
(Or their official website page.)
Lens and optic lines aside, let’s talk a little about the OMNI system.
With the main lines described, you might be wondering what other unusual effects are possible to achieve?
Well, the OMNI system comes with a Filter Ring and several Effect Wands to be attached magnetically.
These rings include crystal, stretch, and rainbow filters. They’re add-ons to your lenses that further modify your image, enriching the scene as you see it.
Lensbaby also has an optic swap option, in case you’d like to try something new with your new glass.
But enough about what a Lensbaby can do. At this point, you’re probably thinking how do you use it or which lens of this brand you should buy.
Let’s find out.
What Is a Lensbaby Used For?
Lensbaby Composer Pro II with Sweet 80 Optic for Nikon F
80mm f/2.8 Selective Focus Lens
Creates a sharp spot of focus surrounded by dramatically increasing blur
Highlight the elements you want in your image, while subtly blurring out the rest – in camera
New Composer Pro II lens body features an upgraded metal body for precise tilt and focus cont
Initially, some might think using a Lensbaby is a quick way to make a rather dull shot more interesting. That’s not necessarily untrue.
Using a Lensbaby can definitely spark new ideas that you can explore further. Capturing a different perspective can inspire you to modify your composition into something more inherently interesting.
As any photographer or videographer would know, some of the best shots come out of a moment of inspiration, a vague and daring intuition that trying something slightly differently might accomplish what you want to accomplish.
For example, filming birds on a beach with the Sweet Spot optic on during golden hour might give you the transition shot you needed for your project.
It’s a productive way of getting accustomed to the lensbaby and exploring ideas with a new type of lens or optic. But it’s not its only function.
Capturing a scene organically is a major advantage of using these lenses.
Nothing beats the creative surge of the moment. Having a specialized lens on-hand allows you to create more efficiently and creatively in the moment.
Rather than composing your shots with post-production in mind, Lensbaby lenses give you the option to explore those shots as you take them.
Imagine snapping pictures of a motocross rider mid-air performing a bike flip in front of thousands of attendees using a Swirl optic. Talk about a dare shot!
You’re essentially capturing the dizzying sensation of executing a bike flip in a photograph; the subject perfectly still in mid-air, the audience in motion all around them.
With the Filter Ring, you can mystify your photos and transport them to a different world.
The crystal effect wand can be used to deliver a sense of wonder and fantasy. Pair that up with a Velvet optic, and you’ve fashioned yourself a dream scene.
Place a subject in front of a non-busy background and attach the crystal wand onto your lens. Configure your settings, focus on your subject, and take your picture.
The resulting photo is of a subject in sharp focus, with smooth and glowy edges, a soft bokeh background, and crystal refractions scattered all over the image, evoking a dreamy environment that’s sure to transport the viewer to a different world.
All this with one subject, a background, a Lensbaby lens, and filter ring.
These are just some of the ways you can take advantage of the novel compositions possible with this brand products.
Lensbaby Photography: Thoughts?
Using a Lensbaby really depends on the type of images you want to capture. They’re not made for everybody, but they’re a creative option if you’re looking for a specific effect.
They’re also just fun to use on a whim, experimenting with ludicrous angles and filters.
Many of their lenses and optics are reasonably priced, too; at least, relatively speaking.
(Note: I covered the top 5 bestselling Lensbaby lenses here.)
Disregarding sales, you can get Composer Pro II lenses anywhere between $300 and $450 USD, depending on the optic package.
Optics alone range from $100 to $300 USD, with optic collections starting at $500 USD, and the OMNI System at $100 USD.
If these prices don’t convince you whether Lensbaby is worth it, check out this video by Mike Browne where he breaks down this type of glass’ possibilities with examples.
Where to buy online? Check price and availability on:
(Or their official website page.)
What are your thoughts on these creative photography lenses? Is it more clear now what a Lensbaby does? Happy shooting!