A Creative Challenge! 5 Fun Lenses for Creative Photographers

The modern photography world is filled with camera lenses that are incredibly sterile. Couple that with the image quality from cameras, and it gets even more boring. We can tell you from experience that it’s sometimes hard to tell the difference between one 50mm lens and another. That’s why so many folks reach for vintage lenses. But there are a bunch of fun lenses out there. Lensbaby is just one great manufacturer for products like these. And trust us, use one of these and you’ll be creating differently in no time!

Reader Exclusive Deal: Lensbaby currently has 15% off across the board on all products at their store. But if you use our links to their store and enter promo code phoblog you’ll get an extra 10% off. That’s 25% off their products.

This piece is presented in partnership with Lensbaby. We’ve independently and ethically reviewed all the products in this round-up already without sponsorship. And we worked with them to recommend a few key gems to you.

The Phoblographer’s various product round-up features are done in-house. Our philosophy is simple: you wouldn’t get a Wagyu beef steak review from a lifelong vegetarian. And you wouldn’t get photography advice from someone who doesn’t touch the product. We only recommend gear that we’ve fully reviewed. If you’re wondering why your favorite product didn’t make the cut, there’s a chance it’s on another list. If we haven’t reviewed it, we won’t recommend it. This method keeps our lists packed with industry-leading knowledge. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Pro Tips on Using Eclectic and Fun Lenses on Your Camera

Here are some pro tips for using fun lenses by Lensbaby:

  • Lensbaby makes well built, manual focus lenses. The intention isn’t always sharpness: it’s often the opposite. The careful, slow, and creative photographer will truly make these lenses work.
  • We encourage you to use every tool you’ve got available to you. Lensbaby optics make you think and see differently. Use off-camera lights, LEDs, props, and a lot more. Try using projectors too!
  • Don’t want to spend a while editing? Create a custom profile in your camera to compensate. Fujifilm has film simulations. Sony cameras can have profiles that look more like Kodak film. Panasonic has profiles to look like Kodak movie film. OM system cameras have tons of art filters. And Nikon has creative profiles too!
  • The Composer Pro II uses Lensbaby’s own optics, which are very solid. It’s the closest thing to a true tilt-shift that’s available on the market for most camera systems.
  • Stop, slow down, and be creative. Trying to capture a moment? Set up beforehand. Trying to create a moment? Well slow down and try everything. (And make sure you have a patient model.)

Lensbaby Velvet 56

The Creative Formula: The Lensbaby Velvet 56 is a lens that sticks to a very classic aesthetic. Years ago, you had to stop a lens down to get the sharpest performance. The Velvet 56 pays homage to that. The good thing is that you don’t need to spend a lot of time editing later on. Your photos will have a gorgeous glow to them. We think you’ll really like it with a camera that shoots great black and white photos or offers a vintage look.

In our review, we state:

“The colors on this lens and the way it handles skin tones and skin in general is absolutely incredible. If I didn’t want to do a lot of skin softening in post-production or if I simply wanted something that works great with skin in general this would be my go-to lens.”

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Lensbaby SOL 45

The Creative Formula: The SOL 45 is a fascinating beast of a lens. During our review, we made some beautiful images with this lens. It’s a combination of a tilt-shift and aperture shaping lens. It’s easy to have a lot of fun with it. And we suggest you take it into a studio and try it with some LEDs or strobe. Just remember it has a fixed f3.5 aperture.

In our review, we state:

“Focusing the Lensbaby Sol 45  is done manually and there is no zone focusing scale. Your best bet is to use focus peaking and focus magnification to ensure that you’ve got the subject accurately in focus. That gets more difficult the more you shift the focus away from the center of the lens. But at the same time, you get a cool effect.”

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Lensbaby Twist 60

The Creative Formula: The closest thing that Lensbaby has to a true Petzval lens is the Twist 60. That means that you’re going to get a sharp center and all the swirly bokeh around the edges that we love! The colors are accurate right out of the camera. And that means that if you’ve got a custom profile loaded, then it will render it as is!

In our review, we state:

“Overall when it comes to image quality, you should really consider that this isn’t a conventional optic. It’s modeled after the old Petzval lenses and will deliver swirly bokeh. To that end, it’s best used by putting your main subject right in the center where the lens is sharpest. When you nail the focusing correctly, this lens is very sharp. But otherwise you’ll be left frustrated if all you care about is 100% perfect sharpness.”

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Captured with the Lensbaby Twist 60

Lensbaby Composer Pro II with Edge 50

The Creative Formula: The best thing about the Composer Pro II with the Edge 50 is the pure quality you can get. It acts like a tilt-shift lens. So with that in mind you can play around or have full intention with what you want. Either way, you’ll need to work slowly and carefully. But the images are worth it!

In our review, we state:

“The Lensbaby Composer Pro II and Edge 50 optic can help you deliver really, really awesome image results providing you’re open to experimenting with the creativity it allows. Optically speaking, what you’ll really want to pay attention to here is the Edge 50 Optic; it can hold its own with many other lenses out there.”

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Lensbaby Composer Pro II with Edge 35

The Creative Formula: The Edge 35 is probably one of our favorites on this list. It’s using the Composer Pro II system and can deliver beautiful photos! It’s got a 35mm f3.5 optic. Plus it boasts beautiful lens flare and gets just enough of your subject in focus for you to really adore it!

In our review, we state:

“The bokeh is really the best thing about the design of the Lensbaby 35mm f3.5 Edge. With eight aperture blades, it isn’t like the 11 the Sony G Master lenses offer but it’s still nice and creamy. Portrait photographers will make the most of this as will anyone who really likes focusing up close and personal on stuff. Tilting the focusing just makes things more and more bokehlicious if you’re into a specific look. Some of the work involved with the Lensbaby 35mm f3.5 Edge is just about messing around and experimenting to see what works. Most photographers can think in terms of straight and linear focusing planes: thinking in terms of shifted planes is rough.”

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Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.