Is software manipulation getting too much use? Could we do with getting back to making our effects in camera? Some companies think so and Lensbaby are one of them as they have produced the Lensbaby 3G. A selective focus lens that gives you the chance to change the point of focus before shooting.
Lensbaby 3G Specification
- Lens: Multi-coated optical glass doublet
- Focal Length: Approx 50mm
- Focus Type: Manual/Fingertip with 2 additional types of fine focusing
- Aperture Type: Interchangeable levitating aperture disks
- Apertures: f/2, f/2.8, f/4, f/5.6, f/8, f/11, f/16, f/22
- Minimum Focus: Approx 12in
- Maximum Focus: infinity
- Size:7.6cm x 9cm
- Weight: 161.59g
Lensbaby 3G Features
The Lensbaby is a cross between bellows cameras and tilt-shift lenses and is the third generation. The idea is that the lens creates a small point of focus that can be manoeuvred around the frame by adjusting the three arms attached to the lens. The aperture is interchangeable and the Lensbaby comes with a selection of metallic apertures ranging from f/2 to f/22 which can be easily changed if a deeper or shallower depth of field is necessary.
Made to a high standard, the Lensbaby is available in different mounts and is compatible with Canon EF, Nikon F, Minolta, Sony, Pentax, Samsung, Olympus, Panasonic and Leica. It has three arms with screw threads and three knobs on the outer ring which are there to grab onto when adjusting the lens into focus. The two extra knobs on the bottom of the lens are for unlocking the lens and giving it the freedom to move around to get in focus. Once in focus, the focus point or "sweet spot" can be manoeuvred around by flexing the bellows with the fingers. A small button on the top right of the lens locks it into position and any fine tuning can be done by screwing or unscrewing the threaded arms. When the locking button is pressed, it does have a tendency to slot into place knocking it out of focus slightly.
Once the dynamics of the lens are understood, the principles are pretty easy to use. Only specific photography can be done with something like this. A particular point of focus has to be present in the image to focus on and this should, theoretically, be great for macro photographers, but the close focus is not very good at 30cm. However, macro and wide angle attachments are available and simply screw onto the front of the Lensbaby.
The apertures slot into the front of the lens and float a few millimetres away from the front element and they are removed with a small magnet which is provided attached to the container that the apertures come in.
An example of the blurring made by a wide aperture. This image is at f/2 with the focus on the watch face. Shutter speed was 1/160 second.
This image is also f/2 with the focus point changed to the cap of the hip flask. Which was empty. Shutter speed remained the same.
The image at f/8 needed the shutter speed reducing to 1/5 second. Blurring also starts to dissipate as depth of field brings things into focus.
The image at f/22 shows no blurring and the 4 second exposure includes light from the modelling bulb.
Lensbaby 3G Verdict
The Lensbaby is a specialist lens but can produce some very nice pictures. The selective focus area would be great for food photography, still life and once you are adept at using it, portraits. Wedding photography calls for a lot of selective focusing, so photographers in that area may also find this lens useful.
Don't be fooled by what essentially looks like an attachment. This is an expensive piece of kit that is an extension of your personal lens collection and at £200, you want to consider if you will use this lens enough to warrant the price as it is very easy to look at it and not take it seriously. I enjoyed using the Lensbaby 3G and if it is given a little patience, the pictures produced can be eye catching and colourful.
Lensbaby 3G Plus points
Lockable lens for better focusing
Fine tuning focus
Lensbaby 3G Minus points
Locking procedure can slip out of focus
Image can look in focus in viewfinder and be out of focus in final image.
Unsure if price warrants the product
The Lensbaby 3G costs around £199 and is available from the ePHOTOzine shop here.