“Soft” focus and “Selective” focus are two different things. One is used to create a romantic or dreamy mood while the other is used to direct the eye to something specific within the image. Both techniques are important in photography and becoming proficient in each can help you become a better photographer.
Lensbaby, the company that makes several different selective focus lenses – such as the Composer – also offers a soft focus optic that is used with the Composer to create a dreamy soft focus effect.
Using it (3 out of 5)
This review takes a closer look at this lens and what it can do for your photography. First off, to use the Soft Focus Pptic, you remove the basic Composer optic using the black plastic cap of the soft focus lens container. There are three prongs on the cap, which fit into holes in the Composer. A quick twist and the lens pops out (read the accompanying instructions to learn how to do this properly). You then insert the soft focus lens (and aperture rings to control exposure and soft focus effect) and use the cap to lock it in.
Obviously, since the only way to control the aperture is via the aperture rings, it’s best to set the camera to either aperture priority automation or manual exposure. The Soft Focus Optic unlike other Lensbaby optics, provides a series of small holes in the aperture ring. You can vary the soft focus effect not just by changing aperture sizes, but also by using an aperture ring to block some of the small holes. The lens works at a 50mm focal length, but keep in mind the multiplier effect of your camera can make the apparent focal length a bit different. The optic comes with three special multi hole soft focus aperture rings and is compatible with the company’s Composer, Muse and Control Freak lenses.
The Lensbaby system has three basic types of components: lenses (the three just listed), optics (such as the soft focus optic and others) and accessories (which can include telephoto and wide angle lenses and close up diopters that mount on the front of lenses).
Price to value (4 out of 5)
A Lensbaby Composer sells for $270. The Soft Focus Optic is an additional $89.95. Soft focus lenses from major camera makers can cost about the same or more although this is an unequal comparison since each has different strengths and weaknesses. A Lensbaby Composer provides selective focus options a normal camera lens can’t and a Canon or Nikon soft focus lens can be operated as a normal camera lens when desired, something the Composer won’t do nearly as well. If you have a need for dreamy soft focus effects, the Lensbaby Composer and Soft Focus Optic is a great combination. It produces a beautiful soft effect.