Freelensing means you take photos with the lens detached from the camera but held in place and moved around to focus. This also lets extra light in sometimes causing light leaks and giving a vintage look and feel. You only need to move the lens a few millimetres (fractions of an inch), and doing it this way, there’s not much risk of dust getting in to the sensor. If you want lightleaks or the super-macro kind of effect, you will need to hold the lens a little bit further away (probably no more than a finger width, though). This is a bit more risky if you’re worried about dust, so try not to hold the lens away from the camera for too long and only do it in a dust-free environment.

Here’s an example by Luke Roberts:

More freelensing images on Flickr.

(thank you Karin, via

15 Comments leave a comment below

  1. Let the Vaughan Oliver revival begin!

  2. such a cool technique, hard as crap to be consistent with

  3. Seems like it rides on the back of the tilt/shift fad. At least it’s done in camera which seemingly take more artistry than a photoshop filter or iPhone app.

  4. Cheaper than a Lensbaby too!

  5. Some of the results are amazing. Tempted to do this with my old Canon 350D to avoid getting my 5D II dusty.

  6. Be aware of the caveats:

    * increased chance to get dust in the camera
    * increased chance to drop either the lens or the camera body or both
    * depending on the lens and body you might be able to damage the connector if you are not careful or slip
    * might be addictive ;-)

    If you don’t mind to spend money take a look at the Lensbabies which start at $100

  7. This is why i stick to 35mm/120 photography :)

  8. Does anyone know the advantages/disadvantages to using a lens with larger/smaller imaging circle for this?

    I shoot with a 50D. I have both EF and EF-S lenses – am I going to get better results with either mount because of the size of the circle let through to the sensor?

  9. won’t the operating system be affected if the lens isn’t mounted properly and not making contact with all the sensors etc? And as novel as this approach is, some of us have been doing this with tilt shift lenses for years ;)

  10. Not sure about the software – I would assume you just will not get any autofocus and lens data – much like building a pinhole camera out of a lens cap. The camera will still operate and capture an image – it will just do so without the lens attached.

    Yes – similiar to using tilt/shift perspective control lenses, but different in that it’s a bit more organic – and far, far cheaper. Also similiar to using a perspective control lens system such as a lens baby – who just released a mount for nikkor lenses on smaller format sony cameras allowing more range of motion than available on even most tilt shift lenses.

  11. Just tried it with my 50mm f1.8 and manual on my 50D. Able to change the plane of focus easily and quite easy to handhold. Focusing requires almost 3 hands but the image is still sharp and does give you lots of options.

    Sensor dust is an issue, and I didn’t have light issues, but I was not bending the focal plane very far. Fun experiment.

  12. @Kyle: I don’t think that consistency is what you want to achieve when freelensing, because the beauty of the result lies in its randomness indeed.

  13. Cool, I’ve done this 5 years ago with my SLR. Where as I could have a manual aperture to shoot in low light and get really neat blurs on film.

    But on a DSLR, I’m not sure I’d do that to my 5D just yet.

  14. Thanks for the post. My wife is a wedding photographer so I sent her the post, as I thought she might be interested. She was and had to try it out straight away! She blogged the photos from the wedding she tried it at here….

    Anything that looks like it was a tilt-shift lens is actually freelensed! Thought you might like a look. Thanks again.

  15. Remarkable things here. I’m very happy to see your article. Thanks a lot and I am looking ahead to contact you. Will you kindly drop me a mail?