Lensbaby Soft Focus Optic


The creative folks at Lensbaby have been busy coming up with more lenses for their innovative Optic Swap System. According to Lensbaby, the Soft Focus Optic “…creates a velvety soft image perfect for portraits, flowers, landscapes, or any subject that needs a soft touch.” So how does this offering fare? As a user of other Lensbaby products, I was eager to find out.

I mounted the Lensbaby Composer (sold separately for $270) and the Soft Focus Optic on my trusty Nikon and put it to the test. The Composer handles the pivot (to choose the selective focus area) and focusing tasks, while the Soft Focus Optic produces the effect. My test results yielded a mixed bag. For example, in most of my test shots, the highlights were blown out, which produced the soft focus effect. In a few shots where the lighting was even and the subject had some lighter areas, the soft focus effect was quite nice. If you like the blown-out look, then you’ll be happy with the Soft Focus Optic. If you’re not a fan, you can use the optic when photographing neutral colors and achieve the soft effect without the blown-out highlights. When using a flash, you’ll get a pretty cool light pattern coming off the highlights, which can be a lot of fun.

The Soft Focus Optic works well if you have complete control over lighting or if you’re capable of relinquishing control and having fun with the shoot. Either way, with some patience and experimentation, you’ll get something you like out of it.—Mike Mackenzie

Company: Lensbaby Inc.
Price: $89.95
Rating: 3.5
Hot: Nice soft-focus effect; flash patterns in highlights
Not: Blown-out highlights and light areas are overkill