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!