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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

It’s The Lens, Baby!

Create ethereal selective-focus photos in-camera with lensbaby lenses and optics

Labels: LensesGear

This Article Features Photo Zoom

Axel Heimken
“This picture was taken with a Canon EOS-1D Mark III and a Lensbaby 2.0 during a competition of athletes in Portugal. The athletes like the style of the Lensbaby because it shows them in a way they see themselves, a little bit rough and edgy. I use the Lensbaby in sports photography because it creates a more live atmosphere. It ‘paints’ the typical scenes at a start or before a race; that’s the reason I used it in this picture. The imperfect technical aspect of a Lensbaby—a picture wide away from glossy high-tech pics—characterizes athletes and sports perfectly, in my opinion."

The Gear
The Lensbaby system is essentially two components—the lens itself and the swappable optics. Three different lens models are available to accommodate different shooting styles.


Composer, Control Freak, Muse
Our favorite is the ball-and-socket-design Composer, which offers a solid balance between simplicity and control. Tilt the lens to position the “sweet spot” and tension keeps it in place.

For even more precision, the Control Freak lets you lock the lens tilt, then fine-tune it by adjusting three screw posts, making this lens a great option if you plan to do a lot of macro setups.

If you’d rather shoot fast and flexible, the Muse, an evolution of the popular Lensbaby 2.0, doesn’t lock down, allowing you to quickly change your sweet spot for sports and action subjects fast (though you have to manually hold the lens to keep its angle).

Once you’ve selected the right lens design for you, you can start thinking about which optics you’ll want to use. The Lensbaby Optic Swap System currently includes three optics for selective focus and three additional optics for other cool effects. There are also accessories for macro and wide-angle photography.

The Lensbaby website has a cool optical comparison tool that previews the effects of the different optics at a variety of apertures. Go to www.lensbaby.com/optic-comparison.php.

1. Double Glass Optic
The sharpest Lensbaby optic, with minimal diffusion.

2. Single Glass Optic
Lensbaby describes this optic as similar to what you’d find in an antique camera, with a soft effect.

3. Plastic Optic
Holga and toy camera aficionados will love this optic, the softest in the system, for really dreamy images.

4. Pinhole/Zone Plate Optic
This switchable optic lets you experiment with pinhole and zone plate effects.

5. Soft Focus Optic
Unlike the other optics in this system, which have a “sweet spot” of relative sharpness, Soft Focus produces even softness throughout the image.

6. Fisheye Optic
Get an expansive 160-degree field of view. Designed for the Composer lens, it can be used with the Muse and the Control Freak with an optional adapter.

7. Macro Kit
This kit includes two filters for +4 or +10 magnification. Focus from 2 to 13 inches.

8. Wide Angle/Telephoto Kit
Two converter lenses—a 0.6x Wide Angle and a 1.6x Telephoto—expand the creative possibilities of the Lensbaby’s standard 50mm focal length to 30mm (wide) or 80mm (tele).

Super Wide Angle (not shown)
Want to go even wider? This 0.42x converter lens gives you a 21mm equivalent.

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