C'mon, admit it -- if you won one of many lotteries, you'd be purchasing a legitimate tilt-shift lens right after picking up a new Ferrari and buying a chocolate factory. Given that said scenario is highly unlikely to pan out, Lensbaby is stepping in to make the letdown a bit easier to stomach. The Edge 80 Optic is the latest in the outfit's growing Optic Swap system, which is compatible with the Composer Pro, Composer, Muse, Scout and Control Freak, and it's capable of transforming those bodies into "a tilt lens that delivers a slice of sharp focus through an image that falls off to a soft blur." There's a 12-blade adjustable aperture (f/2.8 through f/22), and when not shifted, it's fully capable of taking flat (read: standard) photographs. As the name implies, there's an 80mm focal length, but macro lovers should be aware that you'll need at least 17-inches to focus on your subject(s).

We've been toying with one on our D3S over the past few days, and it certainly does what it says; moreover, it's far easier to justify at just $300. (For those unaware, dedicated T-S lenses can easily top $1,500.) And if you're already invested in the Optic Swap system, it makes even more sense. Granted, it takes some work to compose a shot. You'll need to rely on manual mode, and you'll need to tweak your ISO to match your desired aperture and available light. Leaving the ISO too high while using f/2.8 in broad daylight will result in white captures, while not boosting the ISO enough after dark will leave your shot murdered out. Once you've got your settings right, though, the lens couldn't be easier to operate, and the shift + lock mechanism is as smooth as butter. We threw together a gallery of our favorites taken recently in Hawaii and French Polynesia, so dive in below to see if this piece of kit is deserving of your attention.
Gallery | 33 Photos

Lensbaby Edge 80 Optic sample shots [O'ahu, Hawaii]

Gallery | 19 Photos

Lensbaby Edge 80 Optic sample shots [Moorea, French Polynesia]

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Lensbaby® Introduces the Edge 80 Optic

Edge 80 gives photographers extraordinary creative control over depth of field


Portland, OR – EMBARGOED for February, 14, 2012 @ 9AM EST – Lensbaby, announces today the availability of its 80mm Edge 80 Optic, the newest addition to its Optic Swap System. This new optic is compatible with the Lensbaby Composer Pro, Composer, Muse, Scout and Control Freak, and will transform any of these bending lens bodies into a tilt lens that delivers a selective slice of sharp focus through an image. Like the Lensbaby Sweet 35 Optic, the Edge 80 features Lensbaby's internal 12-blade adjustable aperture.

"The Edge 80 Optic allows photographers to create images with quality that is on-par with some of the best lenses I've ever used. Like a great lens mounted on a view camera bellows, you can make spectacular 'straight' photos with the Edge 80 pointed straight ahead and then, when you want a different look altogether, fluidly tilt the lens to create a razor sharp slice of selective focus through your image," said Craig Strong, Lensbaby President and Co-Founder. For more information, visit the Edge 80 hub.

The Edge 80 provides a flat field of focus that, pointed straight ahead, takes photos that are sharp from edge to edge. Tilting the Edge 80 allows photographers to create vertical, horizontal and diagonal slices of focus through the image. Objects in both the foreground and the background can be in focus within that slice. Photographers can control the size of the slice of focus by changing the 12-blade aperture. For example, f/2.8 will produce a thin slice of focus with abundant blur. F/22 will produce a very wide slice of focus with just a small amount of blur. The Edge 80 allows photographers to quickly and seamlessly change the 12-blade aperture from f/2.8 through f/22, simply by rotating the dial on the front of the optic. An incredibly versatile portrait lens, Edge 80 can also be used to great effect in any situation that lends itself to selective focus – from food photography to giving landscapes a "miniature" appearance. To better understand how tilt, aperture, and focus affect an Edge 80 image, visit the Edge 80 Optic simulator.

With the addition of Edge 80 to the Optic Swap System, Lensbaby provides photographers with yet another way to creatively control depth of field. A photographer needs only to buy one Lensbaby lens to gain access to a system offering 8 interchangeable optics that each give different ways to control depth of field and other creative effects – an unprecedented system within the world of photography.

With the Edge 80, photographers can control a flat field of focus that becomes a slice of sharpness through the photo when the lens is tilted. With Lensbaby's Sweet 35, Double Glass, Single Glass, and Plastic Optics, photographers can control a curved field of focus that brings one area of the photo into sharp focus with other areas at the same depth of field falling off into blur. The Pinhole/Zone plate provides infinite depth of field, the Soft Focus optic delivers a sharp image with a soft overlay from edge to edge, while the Fisheye Optic provides a 160 degree angle of view on the world.

The Lensbaby Edge 80 Optic is available for $300 (MSRP) from www.lensbaby.com, and Lensbaby-authorized photo specialty stores worldwide.