The Soft Focus Optic Swap Macro Kit – What's In The Bundle And What Makes It Special
Ok, it's true. I own a lot of photography gear, including several cameras and standard lenses, as well as almost every lens, optic, and Omni created by Lensbaby. Don't even get me started on photography bags! I have more parcels to hold my enormous photography collection than I do handbags! But to be fair, I do use everything (well, maybe not all the bags). Admittedly, some collect dust more than others. But behind my obsession with accumulating photography gear is a strong desire to carry a minimal kit while optimizing my creative options. Yes, you heard correctly. I love my photography tools, but ultimately, for me, it's about keeping my kit small and lightweight so that I can spend more time creating and less time complaining about a sore back and pondering over which lens will be the right lens to help me make magic. I often say that I wish there was ONE lens that would do ALL THE THINGS. One of the many reasons I've been drawn to Lensbaby photography tools is that, in addition to their unique creative effects, they tend to be small and compact.
Additionally, many of the lenses and optics in their line-up can be used for multiple genres, and that is always a win for me.
What's In The Bundle
When I first learned about this new Lensbaby macro bundle – The Soft Focus Optic Swap Macro Kit - my ears perked up. Macro is one of my favorite photography genres, so I was excited to see what this bundle offered me. The bundle contains a Composer Pro 2 (CP2) in your chosen camera mount and two optics - the Sweet 50 optic and the Soft Focus II optic. Included in the kit are four drop-in creative aperture discs for use with the SFII.
Additionally, this bundle contains Lensbaby's three macro 46 thread filters, which allow you to give your Lensbaby's 46 thread optics macro capabilities. The filters, which add magnification to your subject at +1, +2, and +4, can be used individually or stacked as desired by the artist. As a final touch, Lensbaby also included a branded lens cleaning cloth. Let's take a few minutes to go into more detail on each of the components of the kit and what makes them special.
Composer Pro 2
The Composer Pro 2, the foundation of the Lensbaby Optic Swap System, is what allows you to make images within a wide range of creative effects while still maintaining a small gear-carrying capacity. The CP2 acts as your housing or body for all of the optic swap optics. The CP2 can be manually moved in pretty much any direction allowing you to rotate and adjust your optic, front to back and side to side, thus also changing your area of focus. This handy little device is also how you manipulate and control the focus of all of your interchangeable optics. Additionally, the CP2 may also be locked in place if you prefer to keep your optic stationery as you work. Lensbaby suggests keeping your CP2 straight while using the SFII optic for best results. After spending time with the CP2 and Sweet 50 combo, I prefer to keep the CP2 straight with that optic as well. However, I always encourage you, as the artist, to experiment and discover what you enjoy most and what works best with your unique vision. Inserting into and removing the optics from the CP2 is a simple process.
Detailed instructions can be found on the Lensbaby website.
Sweet 50 And Soft Focus ii – What They Have In Common
Today I will be discussing the two optics that are part of this macro bundle, the Sweet 50 and Soft Focus II. I love that Lensbaby bundled these two optics together because the 50mm focal length is so versatile. At 50 mm, you can photograph a variety of genres, including street, landscape, portraiture, still life, documentary, and more. Both optics have aperture rings ranging from f/2.5 – f/22, allowing the photographer to create images with varying depths of field. Both optics are small and lightweight, and each, when inserted into the Composer Pro 2, offers the photographer its own special magic. Like all Lensbaby optics and lenses, the SFII and Sweet 50 are manually focused by the photographer.
"Macro is one of my favorite photography genres, so I was excited to see what this bundle offered me."
Sweet 50 – The Sweet Spot
The Sweet 50 provides a sharp, sweet spot of focus that grows larger or smaller depending on the aperture you choose. A gradual blur radiates outward from the sweet spot of focus, creating depth and dreaminess to your Image.
Soft Focus II – The Soft Glow
The Soft Focus II offers a gentle, soft glow that is maximized when the optic is opened up and gradually decreases as you close down the aperture. The SFII also has the unique attribute that even within the soft glow, there is underlying sharpness to the subject. The photographer then has the option of post-processing to bring out that sharpness, even in images immersed in a glow, by adjusting clarity, texture, and contrast. This allows the photographer as many creative opportunities as their imagination allows. And let's not forget those fun aperture discs that Lensbaby included for use with the SFII.
Lensbaby has spiced up the Soft Focus II even further by including the capability to add aperture discs that attach to the optic via tiny magnets. As mentioned above, each kit contains four creative aperture discs. Three of those discs have tiny holes (from small to large, depending on the disc), as well as a starburst disc. Each disc, dependent on your subject and available light, adds in-camera magic to your Image by introducing flares, textures, and interesting bokeh. The aperture discs can be easily placed in the optic and then removed using the magnetic end attached to the aperture disc container. The aperture discs may be layered if desired, offering the artist many creative possibilities.
I hope by now I have convinced you how fun this little bundle is and the range of opportunities you have for being creative, but I am not done yet. Now for the icing on the cake - the macro filters! As mentioned above, this bundle contains three macro filters with magnifying capabilities of +1, +2, and +4. They can be used individually or stacked. I have used them in all different combinations.
There are a few ways to turn a non-macro lens into a lens with macro capabilities, but using macro filters is my favorite method because it is most convenient for me. The filters attach directly to the lens itself, meaning that you can put them on and take them off easily and at a moment's notice. There is no need to remove your lens to apply macro converters or extension tubes between your camera and lens. The macro filters can be applied to an SFII optic which also contains aperture discs. As mentioned earlier, I am all about carrying a small kit, and a convenient kit is just as important to me. Macro filters allow me to maximize my creative opportunities while transitioning easily between macro photography and non-macro photography.
Another plus – you can use these macro filters with any of your 46 filter thread optics and lenses - such as the Sol 45, Twist 60, most of the Edges, and all of the Sweets.
The filters do not work with Edge 35.
Lensbaby has included a large, Lensbaby-branded Chartreuse lens cleaning cloth in this bundle. In my opinion, a photographer can never have enough lens cleaning cloths. This brightly colored version means it will always be easy to find.
The Soft Focus Optic Swap Macro Kit checks all the boxes – compact, lightweight, versatile, and endless possibilities to express creativity. This kit gives me the ability to pack my camera with my CP2 and either the Sweet 50 or the SFII attached while placing the additional optic, macro filters, and aperture discs into a pocket or a small camera bag. I am ready for a day of creatively photographing all my favorite genres, including macro photography, easily and without causing unwanted physical discomfort. Ultimately that means more fun and more photographs! I love this new bundle, and I have a strong feeling you will too. Enjoy and #shootextraordinary!
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Melissa Bissell is a fine art photographer, Lensbaby Ambassador and Educator, Click Community Mentor and Click Pro Elite. She is happiest when traveling with her camera and Lensbaby lenses, or quietly photographing flowers at home. Melissa has been published in several magazines and blogs, and was a finalist in the 2018 and 2020 Click Magazine Voice Collection. Her travel photography was selected for the 10-Spot photography gallery exhibit in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, February 2019. Melissa and her husband of 28 years make their home in Massachusetts. They have three adult children and an 8 year old labradoodle.