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© Ute Reckhorn

© Ute Reckhorn

First Impressions of the new Lensbaby Soft Focus ll Optic

  • 4 min read

I was over the moon to receive Lensbaby's latest new optic for beta testing a few weeks ago. When it arrived, I was in a busy spell with little spare time, and when I did have time, the weather was horrendous - if you are in the UK, you'll know that the high winds and torrential rain of recent weeks were definitely not outdoor photography weather! Fortunately, I have managed to take some time to shoot with it, although I can currently only share first impressions rather than in-depth feedback.

Before I share my thoughts, here's a little info...
The soft-focus ll is a new and upgraded version of the original soft focus optic. It fits into all the current and older optic swap lens bodies (Composers etc.) but is also available in a straight body. It has an aperture range of f2.5 to f22 and comes with four magnetic drop-in aperture disks. Three of these have a pattern of holes that distribute the sharpness and glow of the optic in different ways. The fourth is a fun sunburst bokeh disc. Due to time restrictions, I haven't fully tested these, but I enjoyed using them with fairy lights.


I mentioned before that when I receive a beta product from Lensbaby, I'm under no obligation to do anything in return. I just need to try it and advise if I find any faults. So any thoughts I share on products are my honest opinion. And honestly, the first time I took it out, I felt quite indifferent to it, I sort of liked it, but I didn't feel that it would often make its way into my camera bag.

But then I used it for some still life photography at home, and I fell a little bit in love with it. All the images below were shot at f4 or wider. At f4, there's a lovely softness and sometimes a bit of glow around edges, and at wider apertures, there's an added haze. There's a lovely gentle feel to the images, and I felt drawn towards quite minimal compositions. I also felt a real pull towards black and white.


Last week I was desperate to try it again outdoors, the weather was against me, but I decided to walk in the rain and hopefully manage a few shots. And I fell even more in love with the Soft Focus II optic, the softness at f4 was perfect for the damp and murky weather.


"And I fell even more in love with the Soft Focus II optic, the softness at f4 was perfect for the damp and murky weather."

The Velvet also does amazing things with bokeh, but it gives less of a swirl effect and more bubble effect. I feel like the Velvet really shines in any situation, but I'm more likely to reach for it for macro images or portraits with clean backgrounds. The sharpness of the velvet lenses is controlled by your aperture, so wide open you will have a beautiful soft glow all over, and as you stop down, you will achieve more sharpness in the center. The Velvets natively can shoot macro at 1:2, so they are amazing for capturing macro photography without needing additional accessories.


And I never expected to say this about anything, but I actually think this lovely little optic might just replace the Velvet 85 as my all-time favourite Lensbaby!

You can find out more about the optic over on theLensbaby website, and you can use my Lensbaby Ambassador codewBroughton to save 10% - unfortunately, this discount isn't available during the launch period for the optic, but if you've stumbled across this post when its not brand new feel free to grab a saving.

{Please note that there are affiliate links in the post. I may earn a small commission on purchases.}



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Janet Broughton

Janet is a photographer and texture creator living in the North West of England and loves to shoot still life, creative landscapes, and the occasional portrait. She is inspired to celebrate the often unnoticed beauty in the ordinary things that surround us through her photography and shoots mostly with Lensbaby products and vintage lenses. She finds that manual focus forces her to slow down and connect with her subject and Lensbaby lenses and optics help her to express herself creatively.



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