The Joy of Lensbaby

Whilst trying to keep content on a website it can be difficult to share things without coming off like a sales pitch so I’m going to stop trying and just talk about some of the things we in the store actually use and like to play around with from day to day. These aren’t sponsored and we’re not getting a kickback for any posts.

One of those items is the Lensbaby lens system. Lensbaby lenses have been around for some time and as such many people overlook them when searching for something new with which to shoot. I (Joshua) happen to really enjoy shooting with mine (I have the Lensbaby Pro w/ Sweet 35 Optic*) and wanted to share them for those unfamiliar.

The cool thing about these lenses is that they allow for distortion in lens that is typically done in post-processing. Anybody hears me rant about photography knows that editing is the bane of my photography and anything I can do in-camera I’m going to do in-camera.

We currently have 5 versions of the Lensbaby in Nikon right now in store so I decided to throw them into the lightbox in order to see the differences easily. The five we have are the Spark, Muse, Composer Pro w/ Sweet 35 Optic, 12mm Fisheye & the 5.6mm Fisheye. (The spark isn’t pictures because I didn’t want to take it out of the box and it’s essentially a cheaper version of the earlier Muse).

Lensbaby Selection

The Spark/Muse are tension based and as such can be a little difficult to use when you want to acquire a clean sharp focus and slow-ish shutter speeds. This is also a soft-focus lens. An example;

Lensbaby Muse

Next I shot with the Composer Pro w/ the Sweet 35 Optic and it’s got a few rings on it which allow you to keep the lens where you want it forgoing the tension system used by the Muse/Spark. I keep mentioning the Sweet 35 Optic because Lensbaby lenses, 5.6 Fisheye notwithstanding, use an Optic-Swap system so you can buy a base (such as the Pro) and then swap out the actual optics.

An example with the Sweet 35 in the Composer Pro;

Lensbaby Sweet 35

The Composer Pro is easier to shoot with and thus easier to get a sharper shot. The Sweet 35 is also not a soft-focus lens as is clearly seen in this shot.

Now the Fisheye lenses are a little weird to me because they’re clearly designed for crop-sensor cameras (I have a Nikon D800 so I don’t use them) but I’m playing with the D7000 at the moment for these photos so I figured I might as well shoot with them as well. First is the 12mm and then the 5.6mm;

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The ring outer ring on the 5.6mm is odd to me but for Fisheye these are extremely Fisheye. For actual lenses they aren’t horribly priced and significantly better than the after-market adapters that people tend to use to fake fisheye shots.

You’ll notice I didn’t review the Edge Lenses (50mm/80mm) or the newest Velvet 56mm Lens as I don’t have any of those to play with and thus review. I have played with the 80mm Edge in the past and I remember enjoying it but honestly it’s been long enough that I can’t justifiably review it currently. I likewise played with a Rep’s version of the Velvet 56 when it first came out so the same stance applies there as with the Edge lenses.

Overall I’ve always been happy to have one of these in my kit because they’re relatively cheap (Velvet debatably notwithstanding) and offer a completely different type of shot than my standard lenses. We rent the Composer and have a few left for sale if you want to give one a try or add something new to your kit.

* I bought the Composer Pro and the Sweet 35 was a gift a few years back so none of this is sponsored content. My gear was paid for so don’t think I’m just shilling here.