Lensbaby Tilt Transformer photos & mini review

Started Oct 6, 2010 | Discussions
GiantGinkgo New Member • Posts: 15
Lensbaby Tilt Transformer photos & mini review

I picked up the Lensbaby Tilt Transformer with Composer this weekend, after B&H opened from its long holiday closure. The store employee that helped me thought it was an awesome product once he learned about the Nikon lens compatibility and felt it would be great for shooting video. (He hadn't seen or heard of it before me ordering it at the counter.)

So far I've been using a couple of very old Nikon 50mm AI lenses with it, a f/1.2 & f/1.4. It'll definitely take some time to master using the tilt focus shift properly (for more subtle effects), but it is a lot of fun pushing it as far as it can go to get the miniature feel that's all the rage these days.

The build quality overall is very good on the Tilt Transformer. It looks pretty good with the big old Nikon glass (both have scalloped metal rings), and it is sturdy enough not to drift with either a heavy 50mm f/1.2 or 85mm f/1.8 mounted on it, without locking the position down. The composer is nicely made out of metal, and it is a lot easier to focus than my old Lensbaby 3G, but doesn't feel quite as 'extreme.'

There is one issue with my copy that will probably make me see if I can swap it for another copy. The post that locks the lens on the mount might be a tad bit too thick; on a couple of my lenses (the 50mm f/1.4 and a 35mm) it doesn't really want to lock unless you rotate it all the way to the fully open aperture position. If you aren't careful, the lens can pop off when you're adjusting the focus or aperture via the rings on the lenses! I'm still trying to figure out what the difference is between the ones that lock perfectly and the ones that almost lock.

Here are some early photos I've taken with it on my G1...

Photo above shot from inside of a moving train...

It is a sharp combination, at 100% in Aperture I can see the individual bricks of the buildings in the middle...

The aperture was much smaller for the picture above, which helps minimize the tilt effect.

I like the dreaminess of shooting with the 50mm f/1.4 wide open...

-- hide signature --
sean000 Veteran Member • Posts: 7,726
Re: Lensbaby Tilt Transformer photos & mini review

Thanks,

That squirrel is hilarious! I especially like the "Waiting at Ditmars" shot.

I'm planning to get the Tilt Transformer with Composer soon. I have a number of Nikon lenses that I already use on my GF1 with a conventional adapter. I have created effects like this in Photoshop (and I believe the Oly cameras have a Diorama feature, right?), but when it comes to blur I think the kind created with a lens will always look better than the kind created by software. It's also a lot more fun for me to see the effects as you compose rather than spending time getting the blur in post-processing.

In addition to creative focusing/de-focusing, I am hopeful that I can use it to control perspective to some degree for architecture shots using my Tokina 12-24mm f/4 (stopped down to get everything in focus). I'm sure it is probably difficult to get the precise control you get with a standard PC/Tilt-Shift lens, but it seems like it ought to work well enough for some shots.

Sean

 sean000's gear list:sean000's gear list
Olympus E-M1 II Olympus 12-40mm F2.8 Pro Olympus 40-150mm F2.8 Pro Samyang 7.5mm F3.5 Fisheye Olympus OM-D E-M5 +6 more
saghost Senior Member • Posts: 1,520
Re: Lensbaby Tilt Transformer photos & mini review

sean000 wrote:

Thanks,

That squirrel is hilarious! I especially like the "Waiting at Ditmars" shot.

I'm planning to get the Tilt Transformer with Composer soon. I have a number of Nikon lenses that I already use on my GF1 with a conventional adapter. I have created effects like this in Photoshop (and I believe the Oly cameras have a Diorama feature, right?), but when it comes to blur I think the kind created with a lens will always look better than the kind created by software. It's also a lot more fun for me to see the effects as you compose rather than spending time getting the blur in post-processing.

In addition to creative focusing/de-focusing, I am hopeful that I can use it to control perspective to some degree for architecture shots using my Tokina 12-24mm f/4 (stopped down to get everything in focus). I'm sure it is probably difficult to get the precise control you get with a standard PC/Tilt-Shift lens, but it seems like it ought to work well enough for some shots.

Sean

I thought perspective control was generally done with the shift function... The tilt transformer seems to be great fun, but is only tilt - no shift. There are other options out there which are conceptually similar, but only shift with no tilt. I haven't seen one that is both in the wild yet - my be difficult to manage getting all the adjustments in while staying rigid.
Walter

OP GiantGinkgo New Member • Posts: 15
Re: Lensbaby Tilt Transformer photos & mini review

Thanks sean000!

I agree, I much prefer doing the tilt effect practically, it is fun to experiment with and being able to accurately see it in real time helps a lot. I love the bokeh of the Nikons I have...

Being able to shift the plane of focus is really handy for photographing items like food. With the 1.2 lens fully open, I could keep more parts of a fruit basket in focus than I could normally. This is where the tilt function rocks.

-- hide signature --
OP GiantGinkgo New Member • Posts: 15
Re: Lensbaby Tilt Transformer photos & mini review

Walter,

You're right about the lack of the shift function, which would be nice for architecture shots. I haven't had a chance to tripod mount the camera and see how the tilt affects the scene in relation to perspective, if it all.

Still, I've found that I really enjoy the Tilt Transformer so far. I'll play around with the Composer component later, it has really insane defocus shifts.

-- hide signature --
sean000 Veteran Member • Posts: 7,726
Re: Lensbaby Tilt Transformer photos & mini review

saghost wrote:

sean000 wrote:

Thanks,

That squirrel is hilarious! I especially like the "Waiting at Ditmars" shot.

I'm planning to get the Tilt Transformer with Composer soon. I have a number of Nikon lenses that I already use on my GF1 with a conventional adapter. I have created effects like this in Photoshop (and I believe the Oly cameras have a Diorama feature, right?), but when it comes to blur I think the kind created with a lens will always look better than the kind created by software. It's also a lot more fun for me to see the effects as you compose rather than spending time getting the blur in post-processing.

In addition to creative focusing/de-focusing, I am hopeful that I can use it to control perspective to some degree for architecture shots using my Tokina 12-24mm f/4 (stopped down to get everything in focus). I'm sure it is probably difficult to get the precise control you get with a standard PC/Tilt-Shift lens, but it seems like it ought to work well enough for some shots.

Sean

I thought perspective control was generally done with the shift function... The tilt transformer seems to be great fun, but is only tilt - no shift. There are other options out there which are conceptually similar, but only shift with no tilt. I haven't seen one that is both in the wild yet - my be difficult to manage getting all the adjustments in while staying rigid.
Walter

Rats. I've never used a PC lens, so I wasn't sure whether it was the shift, the tilt, or both that was required. I was hoping just the tilt would provide some degree of perspective control since it would allow you to keep the sensor parallel to the building while tilting the lens to capture more of it. I guess there is more to it.

Sean

 sean000's gear list:sean000's gear list
Olympus E-M1 II Olympus 12-40mm F2.8 Pro Olympus 40-150mm F2.8 Pro Samyang 7.5mm F3.5 Fisheye Olympus OM-D E-M5 +6 more
Diane B Forum Pro • Posts: 20,700
Tilt, no shift

You're right saghost. I shoot with a Canon TS on my 5d and occasionally on the G1 ( but only selective focus there) and have the TT and added the Focus Front (plus I have the original Composer in 4/3 that I use an adapter with in G1 and GF1). You cannot use the TT which is tilt only for perspective control. That requires shift.

However you can, with patience ( just like the patience it requires to work with a TS to control the perception of more DOF--really the wedge of focus) have a lot more control over the tilt/focus wedge than one would think as the OP is saying since the EF TS have very controllable tilt with degrees/knobs to adjust.

I'm thoroughly enjoying mine. I had been shooting the TT with my FD lenses (24, 28, 35 mostly, tried 50) and a Fotodiox Nikon to FD adapter which is like using a 1.4x extension tube. I got a used Nikon 35/2 this week since its a FL I like and am enjoying it too--plus the Focus Front.

Good little review.

Diane

saghost wrote:

sean000 wrote:

Thanks,

That squirrel is hilarious! I especially like the "Waiting at Ditmars" shot.

I'm planning to get the Tilt Transformer with Composer soon. I have a number of Nikon lenses that I already use on my GF1 with a conventional adapter. I have created effects like this in Photoshop (and I believe the Oly cameras have a Diorama feature, right?), but when it comes to blur I think the kind created with a lens will always look better than the kind created by software. It's also a lot more fun for me to see the effects as you compose rather than spending time getting the blur in post-processing.

In addition to creative focusing/de-focusing, I am hopeful that I can use it to control perspective to some degree for architecture shots using my Tokina 12-24mm f/4 (stopped down to get everything in focus). I'm sure it is probably difficult to get the precise control you get with a standard PC/Tilt-Shift lens, but it seems like it ought to work well enough for some shots.

Sean

I thought perspective control was generally done with the shift function... The tilt transformer seems to be great fun, but is only tilt - no shift. There are other options out there which are conceptually similar, but only shift with no tilt. I haven't seen one that is both in the wild yet - my be difficult to manage getting all the adjustments in while staying rigid.
Walter

 Diane B's gear list:Diane B's gear list
Olympus OM-D E-M5 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM1 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX85 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8 Apple iPhone XS Max +1 more
tedolf
tedolf Forum Pro • Posts: 28,308
Re: Lensbaby Tilt Transformer photos & mini review

Wow, that is really wierd. The effect is very pronounced.

 tedolf's gear list:tedolf's gear list
Olympus PEN E-P5 Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 9-18mm F4.0-5.6 Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm 1:4-5.6 Samyang 7.5mm F3.5 Fisheye Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 14-42mm 1:3.5-5.6 II R +9 more
yoshi Contributing Member • Posts: 709
Re: Lensbaby Tilt Transformer photos & mini review

Man, just when I thought I had convinced myself NOT to get one I 'accidentally' clicked on this thread - lol.

Guess I'll be dusting off some Nikkor glass soon

Ron Rodenmeyer New Member • Posts: 2
Re: Lensbaby Tilt Transformer photos & mini review

You DID pick up the Composer as well, correct? If you're using old Nikkors, do you need the Composer and not just the Tilt Transformer? I'm thinking of getting the TT to use with my GH1 and have some old Nikon glass, so I wonder if the Composer (which is, from what I understand, a 40mm Nikon mount pancake) is necessary.

Thanks for the review, and I really like the photos.

OP GiantGinkgo New Member • Posts: 15
Re: Lensbaby Tilt Transformer photos & mini review

Ron,

I did pick up the Composer part as well, because optically it is completely different than working with the Nikon lenses, but it definitely isn't necessary.

The Composer's optic that it comes with has much greater distortion than the Nikon lenses, due in no small part to the incredible simplicity of the lens assembly (Two lenses!). It seems to me to be sharper than the older Lensbaby 3G I have, at least when fully open at f/1.6.

The composer main lens can be swapped out with different effect lenses, which can really change the results as well. I believe that currently it isn't possible to purchase the Composer if you only pick up the Tilt Transformer, which is one of the main reasons I got both.

An important note about the 40mm Composer Pancake: We were hoping we could mount it on an old Nikon FE body (or a Canon DSLR with a converter), but it is very similar to the old super-wide Nikkor NAI fish-eye lenses: the lens protrudes too deeply into the camera, running into the mirror.

We also tried mounting it on a Fotodiox Nikon to M4/3 adapter, and while it did work, it didn't really seem to fit properly. The Composer felt like it was going to get stuck...

I think overall I'll probably use the Tilt Transformer with the Nikon lenses most of the time, but I like keeping my options open!

Ron Rodenmeyer wrote:

You DID pick up the Composer as well, correct? If you're using old Nikkors, do you need the Composer and not just the Tilt Transformer? I'm thinking of getting the TT to use with my GH1 and have some old Nikon glass, so I wonder if the Composer (which is, from what I understand, a 40mm Nikon mount pancake) is necessary.

Thanks for the review, and I really like the photos.

-- hide signature --
Aex Regular Member • Posts: 399
Re: Lensbaby Tilt Transformer photos & mini review

Mate, do you have any portrait-ish sample of the Transformer + Composer wide open?

What is the minimum focusing distance?

GiantGinkgo wrote:

I picked up the Lensbaby Tilt Transformer with Composer this weekend, after B&H opened from its long holiday closure. The store employee that helped me thought it was an awesome product once he learned about the Nikon lens compatibility and felt it would be great for shooting video. (He hadn't seen or heard of it before me ordering it at the counter.)

So far I've been using a couple of very old Nikon 50mm AI lenses with it, a f/1.2 & f/1.4. It'll definitely take some time to master using the tilt focus shift properly (for more subtle effects), but it is a lot of fun pushing it as far as it can go to get the miniature feel that's all the rage these days.

The build quality overall is very good on the Tilt Transformer. It looks pretty good with the big old Nikon glass (both have scalloped metal rings), and it is sturdy enough not to drift with either a heavy 50mm f/1.2 or 85mm f/1.8 mounted on it, without locking the position down. The composer is nicely made out of metal, and it is a lot easier to focus than my old Lensbaby 3G, but doesn't feel quite as 'extreme.'

There is one issue with my copy that will probably make me see if I can swap it for another copy. The post that locks the lens on the mount might be a tad bit too thick; on a couple of my lenses (the 50mm f/1.4 and a 35mm) it doesn't really want to lock unless you rotate it all the way to the fully open aperture position. If you aren't careful, the lens can pop off when you're adjusting the focus or aperture via the rings on the lenses! I'm still trying to figure out what the difference is between the ones that lock perfectly and the ones that almost lock.

Here are some early photos I've taken with it on my G1...

-- hide signature --

=============================
My photos: http://www.fluidr.com/photos/testdasi/random

Ron Rodenmeyer New Member • Posts: 2
Re: Lensbaby Tilt Transformer photos & mini review

Thanks for the info!

GiantGinkgo wrote:
Ron,

I did pick up the Composer part as well, because optically it is completely different than working with the Nikon lenses, but it definitely isn't necessary.

The Composer's optic that it comes with has much greater distortion than the Nikon lenses, due in no small part to the incredible simplicity of the lens assembly (Two lenses!). It seems to me to be sharper than the older Lensbaby 3G I have, at least when fully open at f/1.6.

The composer main lens can be swapped out with different effect lenses, which can really change the results as well. I believe that currently it isn't possible to purchase the Composer if you only pick up the Tilt Transformer, which is one of the main reasons I got both.

An important note about the 40mm Composer Pancake: We were hoping we could mount it on an old Nikon FE body (or a Canon DSLR with a converter), but it is very similar to the old super-wide Nikkor NAI fish-eye lenses: the lens protrudes too deeply into the camera, running into the mirror.

We also tried mounting it on a Fotodiox Nikon to M4/3 adapter, and while it did work, it didn't really seem to fit properly. The Composer felt like it was going to get stuck...

I think overall I'll probably use the Tilt Transformer with the Nikon lenses most of the time, but I like keeping my options open!

Ron Rodenmeyer wrote:

You DID pick up the Composer as well, correct? If you're using old Nikkors, do you need the Composer and not just the Tilt Transformer? I'm thinking of getting the TT to use with my GH1 and have some old Nikon glass, so I wonder if the Composer (which is, from what I understand, a 40mm Nikon mount pancake) is necessary.

Thanks for the review, and I really like the photos.

Kadoorie Junior Member • Posts: 35
Re: Lensbaby Tilt Transformer photos & mini review

Hi guys

i think I am 4 years late but this is the only post I found of the subject. I purchased a TT last week. I tried with several ais nikkor lenses and really like the effect. On some light background shots I found a small spot, similar to dust on sensor spot, in the middle; it can be eliminated by LR easily but still annoying.

Do you have the same issue or just I got a bad item?

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