How to Use Lensbaby Optics

The Lensbaby line includes a wide variety of optics. The Lensbaby Optic Swap system makes it possible for you to change the look and feel of your digital images by changing the optic.

With the exception of the Sweet 35 optic, which was introduced in March 2011, you use the Optic Swap Tool, which is also the cover for the optic case. Align the tool with the notches in the optic and turn counterclockwise to remove the optic.

Reverse the procedure to remove the optic prior to installing a different optic. Install the Sweet 35 optic by aligning it with a dot on the lens body, and then twisting it into the locked position. To remove the Sweet 35, push the lens into the lens body, and then turn to release it.

The other factor is the size of the sweet spot, which is controlled by the aperture. A large aperture (small f-stop value) nets a small sweet spot of focus. The sweet spot of focus gets larger when you use a smaller aperture (larger f-stop value).

Every optic except the Pinhole/Zone Plate and the Sweet 35 uses a magnetic aperture disc. To remove an aperture disc, you touch the Aperture Disc tool (which also doubles as a storage device for the aperture disc) to the disc currently in the optic and remove it. Drop the desired aperture disc into the lens optic, and it develops a magnetic attraction.

To change the aperture on the Sweet 35, rotate the barrel and align the desired f-stop number with the dot on the lens body.

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Following are some commonly used optics:

  • Double Glass optic: This is the sharpest optic available for a Lensbaby. The lens offers a tack-sharp sweet spot of focus. This optic is great when you’re photographing landscapes or waterfalls. The landscape is readily identifiable, but the image has a dreamy painterly look to it. The lens has a focal length that is the 35mm equivalent of 50mm.

  • Single Glass optic: This optic has a single piece of glass. It’s not as sharp as the Double Glass optic. This optic works well when you’re photographing flowers. The lens has a focal length that is the 35mm equivalent of 50mm.

  • Soft Focus optic: The optic yields an image with evenly soft focus. This optic is also useful when photographing flowers or trees. The lens has a focal length that is the 35mm equivalent of 50mm.

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  • Fisheye optic: This optic gives you a very wide view. When mounted on a full-frame camera, it has a dark vignette around the edges, just like the fish-eye optic your uncle may have used on his 35mm camera. The lens gives the traditional barrel distortion. The lens has a focal length that is the 35mm equivalent of 12mm.

  • Sweet 35 optic: This is the first Lensbaby optic with an adjustable aperture, just like a traditional camera lens, that has 12 blades. You can change the size of the sweet spot of focus by turning the barrel of the optic to the desired f-stop value. This optic has an aperture range from f/2.5 to f/22. The lens has a focal length that is the 35mm equivalent of 35mm.

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  • Pinhole/Zone Plate optic: This optic yields an image that’s identical to the old Pinhole cameras.

  • Plastic optic: This gives you a dreamy, ethereal image. The Plastic optic works best when photographing on an overcast day or in even shade. Images photographed with the Plastic optic, which is uncoated, have wonderfully saturated colors.

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