BUILD AND DESIGN
Unlike all previous Lensbaby products, the Tilt Transformer isn't a lens but is essentially just a lens mount adapter with a ball swivel. Like the previously reviewed Lensbaby Composer, the Tilt Transformer allows you to move the front of the lens freely and then keep it in place with a locking ring.
Lensbaby Tilt Transformer Specifications:
While previous Lensbaby lenses are available in all standard DSLR mounts, the Tilt Transformer is only available for Micro Four Thirds and Sony α NEX cameras because of the short flange back distance on those cameras. In non techno-geek speak the Tilt Transformer sticks out from the camera's mount by almost an inch. If you move a lens mount that far forward on a Canon or Nikon camera then the lens can't focus. Since the Micro Four Thirds (Olympus Pen series and Panasonic Lumix G Micro series) cameras and Sony α NEX cameras have a shorter distance from the back of their lenses to the front of the image sensor, you can attach the Tilt Transformer to these cameras and then attach a Nikon lens or a Lensbaby Composer. Like all Lensbaby models, The Tilt Transformer requires manual focus.
The Tilt Transformer consists of a metal lens mount for either Micro Four Thirds or Sony α NEX, a metal swivel ball, a metal locking ring to control the tilt, and a metal Nikon adapter plate. As previously mentioned, you can also purchase the Tilt Transformer with the modified version of the Lensbaby Composer. The Composer features a double glass optic and aperture disks that can be changed by manually swapping the magnetic disks with the included magnetic tool.
If you've never used a Lensbaby before then you'll be pleased to know it's pretty straightforward after learning to use the locking ring. The Lensbaby team includes an extremely short "user guide" in the box but you might not need it. The easiest way to use the Tilt Transformer is to compose your image with the lens in its normal position, manual focus on your subject, then twist the locking ring and move the front part of the lens so the "sweet spot" is where you want it. You will want to twist the locking ring back into position to hold the lens when you're shooting unless you feel comfortable holding the lens all the time.
The size of the sweet spot or "focus slice" is dependent upon your depth of field. In other words, an aperture of f/2.8 produces a very thin slice of focus with significant blur, while f/16 produces a very wide slice of focus with a much smaller amount of blur. The more extreme the angle of tilt and the brighter the aperture are the thinner that focus slice appears in the image.
On a related note, it's worth mentioning that the Tilt transformer tilts more than the standard tilt-shift lenses I've used. This makes it easier to achieve extreme blur with a very small/thin focus spot. In addition, this might be helpful if you want to use the Tilt Transformer for architecture shots.
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