First Impressions of the new Lensbaby Soft Focus ll Optic

I was over the moon to receive to receive Lensbaby’s latest new optic for beta testing a few weeks ago. When it arrived I was in a busy spell with little spare time and when I did have time the weather was horrendous – if you are in the UK you’ll know that the high winds and torrential rain of recent weeks were definitely not outdoor photography weather! Fortunately I have managed to make some time to shoot with it although I can currently only share first impressions rather than in depth feedback.

Before I share my thoughts here’s a little info…
The soft focus ll is a new and upgraded version of the original soft focus optic, it fits into all the current and older optic swap lens bodies (Composers etc) but it also available in a straight body. It has an aperture range of f2.5 to f22 and also comes with four magnetic drop in aperture disks, three of these have a pattern of holes distribute the sharpness and glow of the optic in different ways and the fourth is a fun sunburst bokeh disc. Due to time restrictions I haven’t fully tested these but I did have some fun using them with fairy lights.

I mentioned before that when I receive a beta product from Lensbaby I’m under no obligation to do anything in return, I just need to try it and advise if I find any faults. So any thoughts I share on products are my honest opinion. And honestly, the first time I took it out I felt quite indifferent to it, I sort of liked it but I didn’t feel that it would often make its way into my camera bag.

But then I used it for some still life photography at home and I fell a little bit in love with it. All the images below were shot at f4 or wider. At f4 there’s a lovely softness and sometimes a bit of glow around edges and at wider apertures there’s an added haze. There’s a lovely gentle feel to the images and I felt drawn towards quite minimal compositions, I also felt a real pull towards black and white.

Last week I was desperate to try it again outdoors, the weather was against me but I decided to walk in the rain and hopefully manage a few shots. And I fell even more in love with the Soft Focus II optic, the softness at f4 was perfect for the damp and murky weather.

And I never expected to say this about anything but I actually think this lovely little optic might just replace the Velvet 85 as my all time favourite Lensbaby!

You can find out more about the optic over on the Lensbaby website and you can use my Lensbaby Ambassador code wBroughton to save 10% – unfortunately this discount isn’t available during the launch period for the optic but if you’ve stumbled across this post when its not brand new feel free to grab a saving.

{Please note that there affiliate links in the post, I may earn a small commission on purchases.}


  • Jay

    I’d love to see comparisons to the Velvet !

    • Janet Broughton

      I think Craig might have discussed the differences in one of the launch videos. I’ll shoot some for my own curiosity when I have some time to spare, my gut instinct is that they feel very different when shooting with them.

    • Terry Timmons

      Kathleen Clemons did this at Lensbaby Shoot Extraordinary Conference 2020. Look up the video on YouTube, it’s titled My Velvet Journey.

      • Janet Broughton

        Jay was referring to a comparison between the brand new optic and a Velvet lenses – but regardless of that anything of Kathleen’s is worth a watch!

  • Karen White

    Gorgeous pictures with this new Lensbaby optic. I am very tempted!

    • Janet Broughton

      Thanks Karen! It really is a joy to shoot with!