Not just moments ago, I posted an article about Lensbaby's new Sweet 35 lens for their Optic Swap system. If you're looking for a cheaper way to get into some make-shift tilt-shift photography, here's that popular DIY Tilt Shift Photography Tutorial from Make Magazine. On Flickr it's also coined as the 'plunger cam'. Nothing like real $2000 dollar TS lenses, but you'd be surprised at some of the images that have been snapped using this technique. If you don't want to use a cheap plunger, more professional versions of this has been made with Volkswagen CV Joint Axle Boots.
Obviously you'll lose all camera to lens communication, so this DIY is best used with Manual focus and manual aperture lenses. Since it's just a floating lens on a rubber bellows it's not so important which camera mount you choose. You can find a bunch of old manual lenses under $10 dollars to start to having fun with this project over on eBay.
The video above shows off a brief overview of LensBaby's interchangeable optics system such as their 'Composer' and 'Tilt Transformer'. The LensBaby optic swap system allows you to switch to different lenses with slightly different tilt-shift like effects from pinhole, zoneplate, dreamy, soft focus, vintage, fisheye, and more. Although it produced fun and creativity, I personally was not a fan of having to swap out Aperture discs. They do offer adapters that will allow you to mount manual Nikon lenses but only for MFT (Micro Four Thirds) systems and Sony NEX cameras. Well, I have to admit they've come a long way from where they originally started years ago and have just recently introduced a new 35mm Optic Lens with 12 blade adjustable Aperture and will work with Canon EF mounts. Now we're talking!
The new 'Sweet 35' optic is definitely something i'd rock just to get out and get creative. Besides the smooth bokeh you'll get from a 12 blade aperture, it has a minimum focusing distance of just over 3" inches. From F/2.5 - F/22 dialed in on the optic you can get select focus or most in focus, along with that trademark Lensbaby blur. On Full Frame Cameras, there could be a slight vignetting, but that just adds more to the popular artistic throw back look people are going for. More about Lensbaby's Optic Swap system can be found here: http://lensbaby.com/optics.php
The new Lensbaby Sweet 35 optic available for pre-order here (don't forget you'll also need the additional adapter).