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Lynny Lens & Lensbaby Spark Comparison Review

Lynny Lens & Lensbaby Spark Comparison Review - Gary Wolstenholme test the Lynny Lens & Lensbaby Spark side-by-side to see how they compare.

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Category : Interchangeable Lenses
Product : Lensbaby Spark
Price : £70
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Features
Handling
Performance
Verdict
Specification
Spark
Lensbaby Spark

Taking a look at the Kickstarter funded Lynny Lens system, it would be churlish to ignore the similarities to the Lensbaby system, which has been establish for some time now. In this review we will look at the major features, performance, handling and image quality of each system, comparing them side-by side.

For purposes of the comparison we will be using the Lensbaby Spark against the basic Lynny lens. They are similarly priced in the US with the Lynny being available for $75 including shipping and the Lensbaby Spark costing around $80. UK customers will be stung with import duties and taxes if importing a Lynny lens, raising the price to just over £100, whereas a Lensbaby Spark can be picked up from a UK supplier for just under £70.
Lynny Lens 85mm (3)
Lynny Lens

Lynny Lens & Lensbaby Spark Comparison Features

After ordering a Lynny lens, we received it packaged in a large padded envelope around six week later. No other packaging or instructions were supplied, which instantly had me checking to ensure the product hadn't been damaged in transit. Conversely the Lensbaby comes protected inside a small protective cardboard box fitted with front and rear lens caps. A small black velour-like pouch is also supplied in the package for keeping the lens clean and protected when not in use.

Where the Lynny lens excels is with its fast aperture, which is roughly equivalent to f/1.4. Although this fast aperture makes shooting in low light conditions possible, it also makes it difficult to control the selective focusing effect, as the sweet spot is very small and not very well defined in the viewfinder. The Lensbaby Spark's aperture is equivalent to f/5.6, which results in a dimmer viewfinder image and will require higher ISO settings when shooting in low light conditions. However, the limited aperture makes the sweet spot of focus much more pronounced, making this lens easier to get to grips with.

When ordering a Lynny lens you can specify which camera you want to attach it to. The lens then comes supplied with a metal T mount for your camera. The advantage of this system is that the lens can easily be adapted for different camera formats, unfortunately the screw mount makes attaching and removing the lens to and from the camera tricky, as the Lynny prefers to unscrew from the mount. The Lensbaby Spark has an integrated plastic lens mount, which makes attaching and removing the lens easier, but it cannot be easily adapted for other camera systems. This will only be an issue for owners of more than one camera system though.

The Lynny lens has a focal length roughly equivalent to 85mm, which may be a little too telephoto for photographing general scenes. Kits that include wide angle and telephoto converters can be purchased at extra cost and the adapters screw into the 37mm filter thread. The Lensbaby Spark has a focal length roughly equivalent to a 50mm lens, which may be more useful for general photography due to its wider field of view. The Spark also has a 37mm filter thread for filters and adapters to be attached. Lensbaby also offer a range of different optics which can be switched with those supplied in the spark, offering many more creative options.
Lensbaby Spark Nikon Mount (1)
Lensbaby Spark

Lynny Lens & Lensbaby Spark Comparison Handling

Both lenses are focused in the same way. To focus further away, the lens body need to be compressed and to focus closer the lens body needs to be stretched.

The lens barrel on the Lynny lens is made from a curved rubber tube which require a fair amount of effort to compress and even more effort to stretch. The amount of effort required can result in shaky hands, which in turn makes focusing very difficult indeed. Saying that, compressing the tube is much easier as fingers can be placed on the front of the tube to compress it in a squeezing motion. Stretching the tube is made more difficult by the lack of anything substantial to hold onto, and although the rubber material used is soft, it isn't the most grippy due to its smooth finish.

The lens baby spark has a large plastic grip around the front of the lens and the optics are suspended by concertinaed rubber bellows. The bellows are much easier to make fine movement with as they provide just the right amount of resistance. The plastic grip makes extending the bellows for close focusing a relative pleasure also, making it much easier to control the effect.

Both lenses allow the optics to be tilted to change the plane of focus and although the range of off-axis movements offered by the Lensbaby are more limited than with the Lynny, is is still enough to move the sweet spot of focus from one extreme to another of the picture area on a full frame SLR. The Lynny can be moved further from the centre, but controlling how much tilt is achieved can be tricky due to the nature of the rubber tube, which tends to jump from when position to another as pressure is applied. It has to be noted that both lenses can be tricky to master, but I believe most people will gets to grips with the Lensbaby quicker, with less frustration.
Lynny Lens 85mm (8)
Lynny Lens

Lynny Lens & Lensbaby Spark Comparison Performance

If these lenses were to be judged on how blurry a scene can be made, the Lynny lens wins hands down, thanks to its larger maximum aperture. If however, the results should be judged by how pronounced the sweet spot of focus is and how easy it is to control the effect produced, then the Lensbaby is a clear winner here.

Images from the Lynny lens have low levels on contrast and a general hazy, soft appearance across the frame. If this is the effect you prefer, then it could well be suited to you. The Lensbaby Spark has a clearly defined sweet spot of focus that can easily be moved around the frame. As the in-focus area is more clearly defined, it makes the overall effect of the lens more pronounced, rather than just appearing blurry.

Images produced by the Lensbaby Spark have better colour and contrast than those produced by the Lynny lens too. Colour fringing around high contrast edges is present with both lenses, but more pronounced with the Lynny. Photos were taken with a Nikon D700.

Lynny Lens   Lensbaby Spark
Pavillion
Pavillion 1/5000 sec | f/1.4 | ISO 200
  Pavillion
Pavillion 1/1000 sec | f/5.6 | ISO 200
Fountain
Fountain 1/6400 sec | f/1.4 | ISO 200
  Fountain
Fountain 1/1000 sec | f/5.6 | ISO 200
Gravestone
Gravestone 1/200 sec | f/1.4 | ISO 200
  Gravestone
Gravestone 1/60 sec | f/5.6 | ISO 800
Canal
Canal 1/5000 sec | f/1.4 | ISO 200
  Canal
Canal 1/500 sec | f/5.6 | ISO 1250
Bench
Bench 1/125 sec | f/1.4 | ISO 200
  Bench
Bench 1/40 sec | f/5.6 | ISO 400
Snow scene
Snow scene 1/160 sec | f/1.4 | ISO 200
  Snow scene
Snow scene 1/100 sec | f/5.6 | ISO 800
Car
Car 1/60 sec | f/1.4 | ISO 200
  Car
Car 1/100 sec | f/5.6 | ISO 800
Pulleys
Pulleys 1/30 sec | f/1.4 | ISO 1600
  Pulleys
Pulleys 1/15 sec | f/5.6 | ISO 3200

Lynny Lens & Lensbaby Spark Comparison Verdict

Whether you prefer the look created by the Lynny lens, or the Lensbaby Spark will be down to subjective judgement. I'm sure as many folks will like the effect produced by one as much as the other.

In separating these two optics it really comes down to the design and handling of each lens. The spark feels like a better designed product, made with ease of use in mind, whereas the Lynny always feels a bit home-brew by comparison. As the Lynny was conceived as a DIY project, this is hardly surprising, but work needs to be done on making the effect more controllable and the design more refined before it can expect to commend a similar price to the competition.

Lynny Lens Pros

Bright aperture
Metal T Mount
37mm filter thread

 
 

Lensbaby Spark Pros

Easy to control
37mm filter thread
Clearly defined sweet spot of focus
Focusing grip
Supplied with lens caps and pouch
     

Lynny Lens Cons

Poor packaging
Difficult to control
Sweet spot of focus not very well defined
Rubber tubing not the easiest to grip
 

Lensbaby Spark Cons

Aperture is on f/5.6
Range of movements more limited than with the Lynny lens
 

    Lynny Lens   Lensbaby Spark
FEATURES    
HANDLING    
PERFORMANCE    
VALUE FOR MONEY    
OVERALL    

Lynny Lens Specifications

ManufacturerLynny
General
Lens Mounts
    Lens
    Focal Length85mm
    Angle of ViewNo Data
    Max Aperturef/1.4
    Min Aperturef/1.4
    Filter Size37mm
    35mm equivalentNo Data
    Internal focusingNo
    Focusing
    Min FocusNo Data
    StabilisedNo
    Construction
    Blades0
    Elements2
    GroupsNo Data
    Box Contents
    Box ContentsLens, Adapter
    Dimensions
    Weight108g
    Height57mm

    View Full Product Details

    Lensbaby Spark Specifications

    ManufacturerLensbaby
    General
    Lens Mounts
    • Nikon AF
    • Canon EOS
    Lens
    Focal Length50mm
    Angle of ViewNo Data
    Max Aperturef/5.6
    Min ApertureNo Data
    Filter Size37mm
    35mm equivalentNo Data
    Internal focusingNo
    Focusing
    Min Focus33cm
    StabilisedNo
    Construction
    Blades0
    Elements2
    Groups1
    Box Contents
    Box ContentsNo Data
    Dimensions
    Weight71g
    Height48mm

    View Full Product Details

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