Lensbaby Soft Focus and FishEye Lens First Impressions

Anyone who has been reading CameraDojo.com or listening to the podcast for a while should now that I might as well go to a meeting every week and say “Hi, My Name is Kerry, and I am a Lensbaby-aholic”. I absolutely LOVE my Lensbaby Composer and the Optic Swap system. When the folks at Lensbaby told me about their new Soft Focus and FishEye lenses, I begged them to get me some of the first off the assembly line. Lucky for me they arrived just as I was packing for a recent trip to New York.

This article is only going to be my first impressions of the lenses since I just got them and haven’t had a chance to use them in more diverse environments yet.

The Setup

For this initial use of the new lenses, I had a Canon 50D which has an APS-C lens so I don’t quite get the full effect of the FishEye lens, but still, it works quite well.

Unfortunately, the weather conditions weren’t ideal either since I had to brave 20 degree temps to walk around getting these shots (may not seem cold to some people, but I live in Southern California). With an overcast sky and snow on the ground, its not as if colors were popping as much as I would have liked, but you can’t beat a morning stroll through East Aurora New York in the morning, so off I went.

The Soft Focus Lens

Ok, this lens is NOT for everyone by any means, however, I absolutely love it! The soft focus lens diffuses the light coming into the lens by filtering through a series of small holes. The goal is not to create a completely defocused image, but to give it a softer quality. When I get home and get some more images, you will see how this can look with portraits. For now, I had limited subject matter to work with to demonstrate with.

The image here of the flower was the one shot I managed to snap off before throwing the camera in the suitcase and heading to the airport. While you can see plenty of detail, there is still a softness to it and the defocused background has a really beautiful look to it.

Here are some more shots with the soft focus lens:

Fish Eye Lens

A fish eye lens is another one of those lenses you don’t tend to keep on your camera much but when you need a REALLY wide angle, nothing can beat them. Since the Canon 50D does not have a full frame sensor you dont get a complete circular effect but the fish eye effect is still plainly visible. With some creative cropping and vignetting, you may not even realize a shot was taken with a fish eye.

Below is an example of a pre and post crop of the same image:

With a little cropping, the really distorted edges are far less noticeable.

Another thing you can do is use a fish eye to capture more of a scene than you could with a regular lens and then us Photoshop’s lens correction to straighten it out somewhat. The following images are before and after the lens correction was applied.

Here are some additional shots taken with the fish eye lens:


If you have a Lensbaby Composer or are thinking about getting one, the Fish Eye and Soft Focus lenses can be a terrific addition to your Optic Swap lens collection. Maybe they are even just the right excuse to go get a Composer now. For me, they are a very welcome addition to my collection and I cant wait to use them even more.

For more information, check out Lensbaby at http://www.lensbaby.com.


Kerry Garrison lives in Castle Rock, Colorado with his wife and two dogs. With 10 years of experience shooting products and 5 years of experience in the wedding industry, Kerry brings a good deal of technical know-how and can explain topics in easy-to-understand terms.

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4 Responses

  1. Drew Zinck says:

    What were you doing in East Aurora, NY? I live right in town. Should have said something about coming out, would have loved to meet up and shoot some.

  2. kgarrison says:

    EA is like my second home. I spend about a week every 4-6 weeks out there. Had breakfast at Taste on Saturday…OMG that was good! I will be back out at the end of Feb, lets get a photowalk together.

  3. Drew Zinck says:

    Sounds good. Let me know dates when you set them and I will block off the time.

  1. December 20, 2009

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