Tag: Lensbaby

Lensbaby Optic Swap System Review January 2017

Lensbaby Optic Swap System Review

Lensbaby Optic Swap System ReviewLensbaby Optic Swap System Review January 2017

My Lensbaby Optic Swap System Review is based on my experiences using a Lensbaby Composer mounted on an Olympus Four Thirds Camera, the E400.

Lensbaby Optic Swap System ReviewWhat’s in the bag?

The Lensbaby Optic Swap System comprises of three interchangeable optics as listed below

  • Plastic Optic
  • Single Glass Optic
  • Pinhole/ZonePlate

Included with this are the aperture discs in a case which incorporates the magnetic tool to remove them from the optic.

Lensbaby Optic Swap System Review

The Mount.

The Composer works on a simple idea of a ball and socket.  You manually focus using the focussing ring on the Composer, to then adjust the angle of the lens you simply twist the locking ring and start to swivel and tilt until the desired effect is obtained.  You then rotate the locking ring to secure the lens and take the photo.

By adjusting the angle that the lens is in relation to the camera body alters the area of focus, creating a small ‘sweet spot’ (as Lensbaby aptly named this) of focus.  You are bending light!  This relies on the lens fitted, as the lens focusses the beams of light onto the camera sensor.

Lensbaby Optic Swap System Review

The Composer is a hybrid of aluminium and plastic and was designed as the mid-range entry into the world of Lensbaby, with the Muse being the entry level and Control Freak as the high-end mount.   Subsequently the Composer has been replaced by the Composer Pro II mount with an all metal body and improved swivel/tilt capabilities.  The Muse came with the plastic optic as standard, the Composer Pro II and Control Freak are supplied with the double glass optic.

The Optics

Lensbaby Optic Swap System Review

Each optic comes supplied in its own sturdy plastic container, complete with protective lens cloth.  The lid of the container is the optic swap tool, having 3 lugs that lock into place to remove the optic from the Lensbaby mount.

Simply take the lid of the container, adjust the Composer so that the optic is sitting flush, whilst holding the mount securely, locate the 3 lugs into the 3 corresponding slots.  Apply light pressure and twist gently – the optic will be loose of the mount.  To fit another optic, simply drop it into the mount and use the optic swap tool to lock it into place.

The Plastic Optic is the basic lens in the range, giving a very soft focus effect on the images.   The clarity of this can in all honesty be a little disappointing to photographers new to Lensbaby.   I would recommend starting out with the Single Glass Optic to gain confidence and experience.

As mentioned above, the Single Glass Optic is (in my opinion) the better optic to begin your journey, as the glass lens gives a much clearer image.  The closest you can focus with these lenses is 50mm, the maximum is infinity.  The depth of field is dependent on the size of aperture disc inserted, the larger the hole, the shallower the focal point is in the image.

Pinhole/ZonePlate has an ethereal effect and is best used in brightly lit controlled environments, using a tripod for long exposures to allow enough light for the image.  This can take a little time to get used to and work with, but the results are very worthwhile.

As this is not a true optic or lens (see images below) you cannot use the swivel/tilt that the Lensbaby system is known for.  As described earlier, to bend the image, a lens is required for the effect.

The name Pinhole is reminiscent of the early days of photography, with pinhole cameras and long exposure times/slow shutter values.

Pinhole gives an effective aperture of F/177, ZonePlate works at F/19.  It is possible to take photos using ZonePlate whilst out walking, best effects are created using a tripod and in more controlled conditions.

Changing the Aperture

(Or how to adjust your Depth of Field)

Insertion/removal of aperture discs is also something which is easily done whilst you are outdoors, but again with great care.  Inserting the discs is simple – select the aperture you require and drop the disc in front of the optic, F number face up.

Lensbaby Optic Swap System Review

They plastic coated and magnetised.  Inside the optic body are 3 metal ‘retainers’ which secure the disc in front of the lens.  To remove, first take the end cap off the removal tool to expose the magnet and then place the magnetic tool onto the aperture disc and gently withdraw.

The larger the hole, the smaller the ‘F’ number on the disc resulting in a shallow depth of field.  The smaller the hole, the larger ‘F’ number on the disc resulting in an increased depth of field.  In simple terms, if you have an increased depth of field, more of the image is in focus.  The shallow depth of field results in lots of beautiful blurring.

The Lensbaby Optic Swap System is an introduction into the world of Lensbaby, there are other optics available for this system, listed below.

  • Double Glass Optic
  • Sweet 35
  • Edge 50
  • Edge 80
  • Fisheye (complete with bespoke aperture discs)
  • Super Wide Angle 0.42 X
  • Wide Angle/Telephoto Kit

Lensbaby also have the following range of accessories to compliment the system.

Creative Aperture Discs

With the Creative Aperture Disc used, you are able to create images with stunning bokeh, in the shape of hearts, stars and swirls to name a few.

Lensbaby Optic Swap System Review
Macro Adapters +4 and +10

These are designed to fit on the optic allowing for extreme close up work, allowing for magnification of the subject by +4 and +10.  Coupled with the shallow depth of field and sweet spot, some very amazing photos can be created at this magnification level.

Lensbaby System Bag

Designed to allow you to attach additional bags to as your Lensbaby Optic and Accessory collection grows.  Each bag holds up to 4 of the Optics in their containers and has a zip fastener, shoulder strap and secure pockets on the inside of the top of the bag.

Composer Protective Case

Simply a toughened case, which has a clamshell opening to protect your Composer and Optic.  This has a zip fastener and is padded on the inside.  Highly recommended.

Lensbaby have also written a book on this niche in photography which is available to buy from many online retail stores.

Lensbaby Optic Swap System Review

Lensbaby Optic Swap System Review – in Summary

Although updated by Lensbaby, I am more than happy with my pre-loved Composer, proving the build quality of the mount, locking into position as you would expect.  I have no plans to replace this for the foreseeable future; the reliability of this illustrating how good the Lensbaby brand is.

I am a little unsure why Lensbaby made the plastic optic, as I have never been completely satisfied with the results from this lens.  The Optic Swap System is an affordable, fun way to grow your creativity and skills with whilst you are taking photos that stand out from the crowd.

Lensbaby Optic Swap System Review January 2017

This system is very lightweight, therefore easily carried whilst walking/hiking, swapping lenses is very simple to do on the fly, just be careful not to allow any dust or debris to enter the camera.  It is a very well made, durable system.

To grow my creativity and further my understanding of the Lensbaby Optic Swap System, I have just purchased a Control Freak mount to further feed my passion for that elusive ‘sweet spot’ within the world of macro photography.  This will be fun and I will be sure to share my adventures with you.

For further inspiration please see my previous article


Thank you for reading my Lensbaby Optic Swap System Review.


Happy Clicking!




4 Ways You Can Grow Your Creativity Using Lensbaby Optic Swap System

4 Ways You Can Grow Your Creativity Using Lensbaby Optic Swap System

Lensbaby Optic Swap System – Seeing in a New Way

So you’ve bought your Lensbaby Optic Swap System and have thought to yourself ‘what can I do with this, what kind of photos can I create?’ Read on for suggestions on 4 ways you can Grow your Creativity using Lensbaby Optic Swap System.

As explained here the Lensbaby Optic Swap System is a different approach to D-SLR photography, as the image bends, so do the rules!

Below there are 4 ways you can grow your creativity using Lensbaby Optic Swap System

This is not meant to be comprehensive or exhaustive, merely suggestions to encourage you in the art of using the Lensbaby Optic Swap System and find your own niche.


Ever seen those wonderful photos where the background is out of focus, where the lights are mere blobs but enhance the overall image?  If so, this is Bokeh

The Lensbaby Double Glass Optic is a good choice for creating magical photos, simply select an aperture 4 Ways You Can Grow Your Creativity Using Lensbaby Optic Swap Systemdisc with a low number (F2.0) or even just the optic alone.

The aperture relates to the amount of light hitting the sensor in the camera and the focal point of the image, otherwise called Depth of Field  The lower the number, the more light hits the sensor and the point of focus is very shallow, blurring the background.

This is particularly effective for creating stunning portraits, where you would focus on the features of the model’s face, the background bokeh helps to enhance the overall photo.

For even greater bokeh, try the Lensbaby Creative Aperture set.  This is a set of aperture discs, but with shapes cut out in place of the aperture.  Stars, love hearts – all there to help you develop your creative edge.


Looking for that creative edge?  Thought about trying your hand at Tilt-shift photography? Choosing a mount such as the Lensbaby Composer Pro II or Control Freak, combined with the Edge 50 or 80 optics is a great way to produce photos that really stand out from the crowd.  You can use other optics from the range as your confidence and creativity grows.

4 Ways You Can Grow Your Creativity Using Lensbaby Optic Swap SystemThis is achieved by choosing your subject matter very carefully.  I have found for best results you are looking for a scene with good depth.  Ideally, you need subject matter in the foreground, mid-ground and background.  Focus on your subject, then start tilting!

Using the ball and socket system on the Composer series of mounts, you tilt and swivel the lens until you have your ‘slice’ which is the selected part of the image which is in focus.  Lock the Composer and using the right aperture for the depth of field, you should have an image which in the ‘slice’ looks miniaturised.  This is due to the angle that the lens has been bent to, creating a very narrow area of the image which is in focus.

This type of photography is great for promotional product images also, used in conjunction with a wide aperture, creating a narrow depth of field can give some great perspective photos.


Back to photography basics with this.  Lensbaby produce an optic called Pinhole/Zone Plate.  This part of the blog focusses (sorry, no pun intended!) on Pinhole only; the Zone Plate is covered elsewhere within this website.

Pinhole is not strictly an optic, as there is no lens, just a very small hole in the housing of what we will call ‘the optic’ for ease.

Subsequently, this does not allow much light in as the aperture of Pinhole is F/177 so very small, hence the name.  This optic gives the 21st Century photographer a chance to simulate 19th Century creativity.4 Ways You Can Grow Your Creativity Using Lensbaby Optic Swap System

Due to the very small aperture, the camera needs to be used in a very stable, secure place, such as mounted on a good tripod to allow a long exposure or slow shutter speed, thus avoiding any camera shake.  It also gives best results in brightly lit conditions.  As there is no lens in this optic there is no advantage to being able to tilt the mount as it cannot bend the image.


As strange as it may seem, you hold the key to the 4 ways to grow your creativity using Lensbaby Optic Swap System.  Relax, go with your instincts, let go of the rules, focus on the unfocused and let your creativity take control.  Further inspiration can be found here.

In no time at all you will find your niche with the Lensbaby, your work will become as identifiable as your signature, developing your own, unique style.  You will start to look at objects and scenes with fresh eyes, looking for the ideal tilt-shift opportunity, or soft focus imagery, opening up a whole new world to you!

With your niche firmly created, why not look to make some money from your images?  How to Make Money from Stock Photos is a good guide to helping you find the right platform for your work.

Thank you for reading this article and I hope that these 4 Ways You Can Grow Your Creativity Using Lensbaby Optic Swap System has inspired you!

Happy clicking!





Lensbaby Composer – Edge 80 Optic

Lensbaby Composer –  Edge 80 Optic is a little different from the others in the optic swap system as it does not require the separate aperture discs supplied with other Lensbaby Optics.  This, doubled with the tilt-shift effect makes it a very good lens to start your collection with as you will build up your confidence with this in no time at all.

The aperture is controlled on the lens, via the built in aperture blades.  This differs from other Lensbaby optics as they have separate aperture discs that you insert.  There are 12 sturdy aperture blades in the Edge 80, from F2.8 to F22 giving a very workable range for the depth of field.

Robin – Olympus E400 and Lensbaby Composer with Edge 80 Optic. The focal plane is straight, no tilt and close focus used.

The Edge 80 is a very straightforward lens to work with. It has the additional feature of a close focus lens, which is activated by pulling the ring at the front away from the camera.  This adjusts the focal point as it has moved the lens further away from the sensor.  This can be utilised as a ‘zoom’ lens or, for best effect, a close up or macro lens.  This works best with the tilt angle set to zero, or to maximum of 19º.

Used in conjunction with the Lensbaby Composer, the Edge 80 works very much the same as a traditional lens if the focal plane is in line with the camera.  However, if you unlock the Composer and adjust the angle to up or down, left or right, you then achieve the ‘slice’.  This gives a very narrow depth of field, blurring the background of the image.   With the right subject matter, the image takes on a new perspective; miniaturised, a diorama.

Waterfall, Olympus E400 and Lensbaby Composer with Edge 80 Optic. Note that the focal plane is tilted, giving the ‘diorama effect’.

Focusing is as always, via the focusing ring on the Lensbaby Composer, which moves the optics in the lens away or toward the camera.  As stated before, it is very important to adjust the diopter or viewfinder in manual mode (there is an adjustment knob or lever beside the diopter) as this will affect your ability to get the subject in focus.

Due to the nature of the Edge 80, it is a more expensive lens within the Lensbaby range, however good quality used lenses can be sourced via reputable internet marketplace sellers, such as Amazon, Ebay, Gumtree and online camera retailers.  The build quality is very robust and this optic will last you for many years to come.

Happy Clicking!