As announcement after announcement come in, excitement in the photographic industry rarely hits the pitch that it does when Photokina rolls around. Lensbaby has used this stage to announce their first micro 4/3 and Sony NEX dedicated offerings in the form of a combined Tilt Transformer and Composer for each of the subsequent mounts. Being that I do not have, nor have access to a NEX 3 or 5, I’ll be writing about my experience with the micro 4/3 mount Lensbaby Tilt Transformer/Composer combo. Combining the optical playground that is the Lensbaby Composer with the ability to replace the composer element and mount any Nikon F mount lens to gain a multitude of tilt-able options is just what we’ve needed to see in a micro 4/3 mount, a versatile, affordable, different and really, really fun option. Read on for a few test shots and examples…
I’ve recently posted a new article reviewing the NEX-5 and Lensbaby Tilt Transformer HERE.
I have gone on and on about the need for more affordable optical choices in a dedicated micro 4/3 mount as so many of the current lenses are either quite expensive, especially when comparing them to their larger, dSLR system brethren, or kinda ‘meh’… slow and generally uninspiring. I’ve also rambled about how excited I’ve been with the ability to utilize just about any 35mm lens on a micro 4/3 body via an adapter leaving me in a kind of system limbo. I love it, yet get frustrated by it, then I love it again… Not being entirely tied to the micro 4/3 system has my eye wandering as new MILC system cameras are announced, but the introduction of third party lenses (finally Panasonic and Olympus!!!) shows that the m4/3 bunch are realizing they need to start broadening the offerings, especially if they’re not listening to the majority of users screaming for fast, small (and realistically priced) lenses. This Lensbaby offers not only a relatively affordable choice, but one that will double as an Nikon F Mount adapter! With the Composer front element, this lens is a 40mm f/1.6 optic!!! This of course crops to an 80mm equivalent field of view, but an 80mm f/1.6 lens with the ability to selectively focus and doubling as an F mount adapter… When the standard Lensbaby Composer element is removed, the Tilt Transformer acts as a lens conversion mount which will enable any compatible Nikon lens to function as a tilt lens would. Think macro with a controlled slice of focus enabling you to shoot an entire bug in focus at f/2.8 or f/4! Or, create the tilt miniature “effect” with a fisheye or a super telephoto lens! If you prefer to avoid the tilting portion of the deal, center your lens and lock it down with the locking ring on the Tilt Transformer and viola! You have yourself an F mount adapter, or a 40mm (80mm efov) f/1.6 portrait lens!
While F mount adapters have been available for the micro 4/3 system for a long time, a dedicated Lensbaby has not. If you’d caught my original post on mounting an EF mount Lensbaby Composer to my GF1 by way of an EF>m4/3 adapter, you may know that it has been possible to mount one of these cool optical tools to your micro 4/3 camera already. Where I saw a less than perfect marriage when it came to output (in the way of overly pronounced chromatic aberrations when the EF mount Composer, used via the adapter, was tweaked to its extremes, etc) this new, dedicated m4/3 mount Lensbaby has addressed that. I’ve been playing around with this new Tilt Transformer for the last month and I have to say, it is a lot of fun. Not owning any F mount lenses myself, I’ve been using a borrowed Nikon AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 D lens as well as the Lensbaby Composer front element (40mm f/1.6). Of course, like all other 3rd party lens adapters which disable the electronic connection, the GF1’s (nor any micro 4/3 camera) AF system is not compatible with the Nikon lenses so it is a manual focusing experience, but truth be told, AF on a tilt lens setup would be more frustrating and inconsistent than useful I’d think. This is a lens to be used for fun, and right out of the gate, it’s what you get.
Lensbaby’s mantra of “selective focus” is about as succinct and self defining as I could put it. When you manipulate your Lensbaby, you are altering the plane of focus by adjusting the angle with which the lens elements relate to the sensor. It doesn’t take long to see and understand how to do this. It also provides unique and fun results just as quickly.
The Lensbaby Micro 4/3 Tilt Transformer is compatible with the line of Lensbaby optics as well as their add ons. The tilt transformer/F mount adapter will be available for $250, and with the Composer front element which includes the higher quality double glass optic, will bump it up to $350 and is available to purchase from major photographic retailers, or straight from the source through Lensbaby – http://lensbaby.com/
Happy shooting everyone!
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Hi, what focal length should the add-on lens in order to achive decent tilt miniature effect? Or is the composer good enough for it?
Any focal length is capable of achieving the Tilt/mini effect, it just depends on your working distance. For the best (easiest) results, it helps to be shooting from a vantage point above what you want to make look ‘mini’ so depending on how far you are, any focal length could be capable. I think the Composer offers a great field of view. Being a 40mm lens and equaling the field of view of an 80mm lens on a full frame camera, it provides a great “portrait” focal length which by my experience on the GF1 has been a good focal length. I think if I were to personally buy a Nikon F mount lens to fit to the TT, I would look for a decent wide angle lens (anywhere from a fisheye or 14mm rectilinear to a 30mm or so) or zoom that had a decent wide angle on the wide end, which would provide a nice wide to standard equivalent field of view which I think would be very versatile for a tilt mini type effect (or look at the wide angle add on optics from Lensbaby which would be a nice, affordable option to fit to the Composer if you felt you needed to go wider).
Which camera and lens(es) do you have?
Hi, thanks for the answer.
I currently using a GF1 and own 20mm F1.7, 14-45mm F3.5~5.6 and two old Canon FD. I guess i will have to buy a lensbaby with composer and borrow some Nikon lenses to see the differents.
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For many, many, many Lensbaby shots although I don’t see data. Some are really great shots and some are meh…
Yes, I’ve seen Russ’ shots before. Great examples of what can be done with a lensbaby. Like so much of photography, it is the eye and mind behind the equipment that enables the gear to shine.
Actually the Lensbaby site has tons of photos in its gallery up at the top of the page where you can mix/match different LB components and see shots produced by you picks.
First of all, thank you very much for your blog and the tons of useful tips you give !
I have a GF1 too and I’m starving at the Lensbaby Tilt Transformer + Composer kit for micro 4/3 but I have several questions you might be able to answer, if you have time.
– Do you know if I can put my 20mm pancake on the transformer with an adapter ? Have you already tried ?
– Do you have example of pics with the lensbaby 40mm + GF1 ?
– You wrote than the AF is not working with the nikon lenses, but what about with the lensbaby basic lense ?
Thank you VERY much !
You’re very welcome and thank you for reading through!
To use the 20mm (or any micro 4/3 lens) on the Lensbaby Tilt shift adapter, you would need a micro 4/3 to Nikon F mount adapter, and as far as I know, it doesn’t exist, nor ever will because the image circle that the smaller m4/3 lenses throw is not nearly large enough to ‘work’ for a full frame capable mount like a Nikon F, let alone deal with the deeper flange distance, etc, so unfortunately, no, the 20mm pancake won’t work with the Lensbaby TT.
Yes, some of the shots in the slideshow above are shot using the 40mm (80mm equivalent) Lensbaby Composer front element. The birdhouse, flowers and basketball hoop were all shot with the Composer, wide open. I’d suggest at least trying the composer element out if you purchase the tilt transformer, it is lightweight, low profile and comes with their double glass optic which can provide very good image quality.
Any current 3rd party lens that I am aware of for the micro 4/3 system completely disable any automated function (AF, electronic aperture control, image stabilization, etc) so no, unfortunately for AF you’d need a dedicated micro 4/3 lens (or a couple of the 4/3 standard lenses with special adapter I believe…don’t quote me on that though).
That being said, I think a tilt lens is much more usable with manual focus anyway. I think that even if they were AF compatible, I’d shoot by manual focus anyway as they kind of need a fine tune to get the focus where you want it.
Thank you, you !!
You convinced me to get one TT set, congratulations 🙂
Next on my wish-list, the fisheye !
Best from Paris
YES… this is my wish list 🙂
They are fun!
i’m waiting my adapter to come… i have ordered by online 🙂
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So what has a greater affect on blur: the large aperture (F1.6), or the tilting degree?
Well, the aperture itself controls the sweet spot as it were, meaning the larger the aperture, the smaller spot in the center of the frame ‘in focus’ blending further and further out of focus as you move to the edges and corners of the frame, and the tilt will skew the actual plane of focus while also smearing the out of focus area into a more abstract blur if that makes sense. When tilted to the extreme, the tilt affects the focus regardless of the aperture being used, although the smaller the aperture, the more likely that even at these extreme tilts, you will still have some ‘in focus’ area to play with. The degree of tilt on a Lensbaby is much more than that of a traditional tilt lens, so after a certain point, it becomes more “artistic” I’d say, than traditionally useful in situations one would utilize a tilt lens.
I am enjoying your website enormously. Thanks!
I wish the new NEX-N5 was compatible with the Sweet 35… the mix of new focus method, focal length and aperture control would make it a super combination!
By the way, you say the standard Lensbaby is 40mm/F1.6 equivalent for M4/3. Please correct me if I am wrong, but isn’t it 50mm/F2 for full frame (100mm/F4 M4/3 equivalent)?
Thank you! Hopefully I can continue to ramble entertainingly.
Yeah, I too wish that the Sweet 35 were compatible with the tilt transformers. You are correct in your focal lengths, but because of the design and extra optical correction on the tilt transformers (for the nex and m4/3) it is optically designed to be a shorter focal length with a larger max aperture as a result. One of the benefits to a much shorter flange distance 🙂 If you are to convert the standard composer from the various mounts to be fit to a NEX or m4/3 camera via an adapter, it would have the same angle of view as a 100mm lens without any of the wide angle add on lenses, etc.
Cheers and thanks again,
Thanks for the info. I had no idea that the mirrorless versions had a larger aperture. Interesting.
Anyway, off to play for the first time with my Sweet 35 that just arrived! 🙂
The Lensbaby is rapidly becoming my default lens!
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I wish more reviews were like this one and your post about using the Lensbaby with the EF adapter. I’ve been looking around seeing if I want to go for LB’s latest Composer Pro for m4/3, with the discontinued and less expensive but hard to come by Composer + my decades old Nikon lenses, or get an LB for my Canon and use a m4/3 adapter for my “real” camera. You lay things out pretty well as a user, and your reviews shake things out for me, although it’s still a 3-way tie while I’m off playing with my Holga lens (which is a serious threat to my “good” lens), some c-mount stuff, and vaseline.
Thank you so much for the compliments. As you mention you have three different approaches.
I’d say, if you can get two birds with one stone by going with an EF mount LB Composer, and use an adapter to get it on your micro 4/3 cams, that might be the jack of all type option.
If you plan to use the LB primarily on your m4/3 bodies, I’d determine if you feel you would prefer to invest in LB optics, or would get more use out of your F mount optics. The main reason to go with the newer Composer Pro (vs the Tilt Transformer + Composer front) would be to gain access to all of the newer lensbaby optics (namely the fisheye, sweet35 and edge 80). If you’re okay with foregoing (and don’t plan to buy any of) those three, I think the TT+Composer front is the way to go.
Good luck with the decision and enjoy whatever you end up with.
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