Spark is the latest creative optical lens from Lensbaby. Like other Lensbabies, it has a flexible bendy tube that you push and pull (they say squeeze) to distort the focus points in your photo and create whacky results. It appears to be aimed at the youthful and adventurous photographer, so epz oldie, Peter Bargh, takes a look to see if he can be rejuvenated by the lens.
Lensbaby Spark Features
The Lensbaby Spark is a lightweight lens available in Nikon and Canon SLR lens mounts. The Nikon version tested here weighs just 71g. It has a multi-coated glass doublet (two element lenses paired together) and a flexible tubing that allows a focusing range of approximately 33cm to infinity.
The front has a wide lip with the word Spark and Lensbaby cut out. This makes what could be seen as a toy lens far more attractive looking.
There's a 37mm filter
thread on the front too, so filters or Series VII accessory lenses can be attached to increase the creative options.
Lensbaby Spark Handling
Despite the plastic construction (including lens mount) the Spark attaches to the camera firmly and is easy to handle. The front lip with engraved logo is used to push or pull the lens into position. Unlike the more advanced Lensbaby you cannot lock the position, but it does mean its quicker to aim and shoot, so you are likely to be more spontaneous with results.
thread is plastic so care needs to be taken to avoid stripping the thread when attaching metal threaded accessories.
Lensbaby Spark Performance
Getting good results from the Lensbaby Spark takes some practice. The point of focus, known as the sweet spot, can be varied by pushing, pulling and bending the Spark while looking through the viewfinder. The lens is fixed at f/5.6 so depth of field is limited and when you angle the lens you can control where the focus falls off and by how much. It's a technique that does take a while to master, but once you start to become more confident it's easier to get good results. Certain subjects work better than others too.
I also tried attaching an old super-wide / macro converter with a 37mm series VII ring. These can be picked up on second hand sites or auction sites. As a combined unit this widens the view so the Spark's 50mm focal length becomes nearer a 24mm and with more distortion.
Lensbaby Spark with Series VII Super Wide attached
Lensbaby Spark with Series VII Macro lens attached.
This is a test to determine difference between the Spark (left) and a Nikon 50mm Series E (right) which you can pick up for a similar price. As the Spark is fixed at f/5.6 I set the Nikon 50mm to f/5.6 too. The Spark was at its relaxed position and the Nikon Series E was set to its closest focus. You can go close with the Spark by pushing and extending the tube. Notice the E- Series has a slightly warmer colour balance.
Lensbaby Spark Verdict
The Lensbaby Spark is certainly a fun lens to use. It can take a while (or a certain frame of mind) to achieve results that you'll be proud to share, but once you get into the flow anything's possible. Combined with the right subject and light, Spark does indeed spark the creativity and well worth considering. Its round aperture is perfect for really clean bokeh and something that would normally cost far more to achieve.
||Combined with the right subject and light, Spark does indeed spark the creativity and well worth considering.
Lensbaby Spark Pros
Easy to adjust
No locking so quick and resposive
Threaded to accept accessories
Lensbaby Spark Cons
Harder to get good photos than a normal lens
thread could easily be cross theaded
|VALUE FOR MONEY
Lensbaby Spark Specifications
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|Min Aperture||No Data|
|35mm equivalent||No Data|
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