Inexpensive Lensbaby Lenses with Fuji X Mount

If you've looked at photography gear you'll know lenses are expensive. They outlive the camera body and the good glass costs a lot. If you're looking for tack sharp photos from corner to corner the Lensbaby lenses are just the opposite. Lensbaby lenses are manual focus and the Sol 45 has a sweet spot of focus and the rest is distorted, purposely out of focus. It's adds creativity and fun to photography. What I love with the Fuji XT3 (and the XT5 I'm hoping to get any time now) is that it has focus peaking. I think all mirrorless cameras have this option. My Canon R had it and I had a lensbaby lens for that camera. I sold all of my canon glass and camera to get the Fuji GFX 50sii. It's now $800 off, but I've really enjoyed it since March so I have no regrets with unloading my Canon gear to have a medium format camera. But the Lensbaby lenses I have are for my XT3 so I'll get back to the original thoughts I have for the Sol 45 with a crop sensor lens.

lensbaby sol 45 Fuji XT3 XT4 X series camera lens review in nature Salt Lake City Utah Davis County Michelle Deppe
Michelle Deppe nature Salt Lake City utah Davis County tree lens baby sol 45 and Fuji XT3 XT4 lens review
Michelle Deppe XT5 lensbaby sol 45 beach lens review
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I'm a portrait photographer but I love to be in nature and take landscape photos. The Sol 45 works well with backlighting and especially light coming behind trees. The bokeh isn't uniform and creates movement in the image. It's more of an impressionistic look, which I like to play with.

How to Use Sol 45

You can buy the Sol 45 for Canon EF, Nikon F, Sony E, Sony A, Pentax K, and Fuji X cameras. If you're not used to manual focus it's a bit of a learning curve, but quite fun. Remember to go to your menu and find "shoot without lens" because your camera will not recognize the lens. Also your camera will not record the the f stop because it's not a native lens and it's manual focus with no electronics.

Getting started

Here are some suggestions from Lensbaby's website to get started with the Sol 45.

You'll want to make sure your diopter is properly adjusted so that what you see through your viewfinder matches your own personal eyesight - so what you think looks in sharp focus, actually is. (If you don't use the viewfinder but just use the LCD, you don't need to worry about this step). Most cameras have a little dial or slider next to the viewfinder. Put a straight lens on your camera and point it at a blank, neutral wall. Rotate that little dial back and forth until the grid and any digital read-outs on your screen come into sharp focus (don't worry about the wall). Now you can be confident that what looks in focus through the viewfinder, really is.

You'll be able to shoot on either Manual or Aperture Priority (AV) mode and still have your camera choose the right shutter speed for a properly exposed image. You WON'T get a properly exposed image if you shoot in Auto or other modes.

Once the diopter set for your eyesight and the camera in the correct mode, it's as simple as Tilt. Focus. Shoot.

There's a small lock symbol on the Sol lens body. When engaged, your circular area of focus will be in the center. To move the focus off-center, rotate the lens away from the locking symbol. Tilt the lens in the direction you want to focus - keep in mind, it won't be sharp until you rotate the focus ring which is your next step.

How to Focus:

Focus is controlled by theFRONT MOST ring. Simply rotate to focus. With a tilt shift lens you can start with the lens focused on the center and find that spot of focus. I like to use the peak focusing with red highlights to see what's in focus.

A Bonus Feature

Oh yeah, I almost forgot. There are 2 blades that move across the lens that add an effect in your image also. The Sol 45 has Bokeh Blades. These blades sit in front, but out of the way of the lens. Simply drag them in front of the lens with your finger, and your bokeh - the bright spots in the out of focus area of your image - will take on texture based on the shape & orientation of the blades. You can change the orientation of that texture (horizontal, vertical, diagonal) by rotating the entire blade mechanism. To do this, rotate your focus so the optic is situated all the way down into the lens. Then push the base of the hinged arms in whichever direction you want to rotate the mechanism.

In most cases, the textured bokeh effect will be more pronounced when you have a subject closer to the camera, and a lot of bright out of focus highlights in the background, as in the images below. The link below takes you to the Lensbaby website with videos and examples of how to use it.

Hope these tips help you! Have fun exploring the Sol 45 Lensbaby.