Lensbaby Double Glass

F-stop selection pack
choosing the F-stop the old-fashioned way!

It’s rather like a vintage car! OK the technology has moved on making it much easier to manoeuvre, and more comfortable to drive – but hey! there’s still something special about your first car! It’s the same with the Lensbaby. It is easier to make friends with your Lensbaby today, but it’s still worth a look back. Rather like an automatic versus a manual gear change …. you can learn a lot by understanding your gear box ;o)
But don’t be put off by this hands-on way of selecting the F-stop. The Sweet 50 and Edge 80 have the usual rotation rings! There’s no need to panic, just read on!

So – back to 2013:
The bundle I got contained more than I have ever fully explored (I am revisiting the box of goodies now!) There was the Composer Pro body, of course, and the basic 50mm “double glass optic” was in place and ready to go. Then there were two more optics in the box – a wide angle lens, and a telephoto.

The three slot-in optics for the original Lensbaby
The three slot-in optics for the original Lensbaby

And then there was a really ‘retro’ piece of kit. The Aperture adjustment was made by hand. Yes – you dropped the numbered aperture rings into the optic, using a small magnetic ‘pointer’ – shown in the photo at the top of the page. It all closed up into an easily portable little pocket ‘key’.

The full selection of F-stop settings, with the magnetic 'key'
The full selection of F-stop settings, with the magnetic ‘key’

OK it may sound quite medieval, but it taught me so much about aperture settings! Like the manual gear system … you learn fine tuning by doing it. But in reality I most often just work with the default 50mm setting of the Double glass optic and find it works fine ;o)
Along with the basic aperture rings I also got a set of creative aperture disks

A set of 9 special effects rings for the Lensbaby
A set of 9 special effects rings to add visual interest to your Lensbaby shot

Writing this, I’ve been checking their website, and I was interested to discover that the 50mm “double glass optic” together with these creative aperture disks are now available on the Lensbaby website as “Creative Bokeh Optic”. If you check it out here:
and there’s a video at the bottom of this page: that demonstrates how to place any aperture disk into the 50mm optic.
The final part of my original bundle was a case with 2 macro rings: screw-in lenses for +4 and +10 magnification. You can use each separately, or use both together to get a breathtaking macro shot!

2 screw-on macro filters for the Double Glass optic
2 screw-on macro filters for the Double Glass optic +4 and +10

So what did I do with all this treasure?
I was a little overwhelmed, to say the least! And for the longest time I didn’t try to swap out the optics. There wasn’t much online help, especially videos, so I kept the 50mm “double glass optic” in place, and experimented with the basic aperture rings, and then the macro rings. I love being able to create effects in-camera, the results are qualitatively different from post-production on the computer.
There’s a link at the bottom of the page to a Flickr album with all my posted shots, but here I’ve chosen a few shots from some pretty early sessions. Firstly it was winter and indoor shooting was warmer – and also it was easier to play with the aperture rings indoors too. So flowers were a good choice. And I quickly found that the +4 macro ring was something that worked well for me, with the 2.8 or 4 aperture rings. The shots are pretty much SOOC with just a small crop in some cases, and a signature added.

orange rose shot with the Lensbaby
Lensbaby 2.8 and +4 macro. It gives a natural gentle softening away from the sweet-spot focus. And the colours are nice and rich.
Marigold shot on glass
Lensbaby 2.8 and +4 macro. Shooting indoors on glass, with a light source under the glass and the gentle silky bokeh is there.
A red and yellow rose
Lensbaby 2.8 and +4 macro. A red and yellow rose

These macro settings are so helpful if you need a background blur because the background is inconvenient or distracting. I shoot a lot in a bay window with the garden beyond, and it means I don’t have to mask or clone stamp out the background! Here it was the stalk and leaves that become a gentle blur, leaving me all the space to the left to play with for the composition … or just to leave as negative space.

soap bubble marbles
soap bubble marbles, again shot with the Lensbaby 2.8 and +4 macro.

And then there is the Lensbaby bokeh! Effortless and quite magical. Of course since 2013 we’ve gone on a bokeh quest, and found old lenses, and manufactured new ones with bokeh as a central feature of the lens performance – but back in 2013 it was new to me. And it can still take my breath away!

All those 4 shots were taken in the first weeks of getting my first Lensbaby and were straight on, I think, with little use of the ball to roll the optic. There are just so many more! I have made an album on Flickr of all the shots I have posted that use this original “double glass optic” – so you can wander through many more ;o)

As a final offering here’s a shot I took using the telephoto optic with the 2.8 Aperture ring. Here there’s the fly-away zoom effect in the autumn trees behind the stone pillar. This was shot in 2015.

Lensbaby telephoto optic at Leith Hall Aberdeenshire
Lensbaby telephoto optic at Leith Hall Aberdeenshire

And to bring me more up-to-date, I began to play with the 50mm double glass optic again while I was researching for these articles – here is a shot I posted in July 2018 with the F2.8 aperture ring.

clematis fence shot
clematis fence shot with the basic F2.8 ring

I hope you have enjoyed this brief look back at the world as seen through the Lensbaby in 2013. The Flickr album covers the shots I posted from 2013 and more are being added all the time, right up to the present, as I am now using this original optic regularly! … but for these articles the time moves on to 2015, when I took my adventures with the Lensbaby to the next level.
I met with the Sweet 50 optic

Flickr holds Elisa’s online Photo Gallery
© 2019 Elisa Liddell