Oh Baby!

Every once in a while you come across something that evokes an exclamation. Whether the exclamation is an audible “oooooh” or just that momentary inner brightening, the result is the same; your "gotta-have-it" switch has been flipped! That’s what happened when I saw the Lensbaby 2.0. (I won’t blather on about all the technical details. Go HERE if you want to read all about it.)  It has no focusing ring, the aperture is set by dropping little magnetic rings into the front of the lens and the optics are intentionally mediocre. The images created using this lens are only partially in focus with blurring everywhere else and rainbow effects glinting off of any highlights. To top it off, it looks kind of silly...like  it belongs on something from Fisher-Price. Why the heck would you pay $150 for that?

 The simple answer is, “because it's cool!”

The softly glowing, ethereal effect that the Lensbaby gives to a photo can be duplicated by someone with a good photo editor like Photoshop or Photo-Paint, but it takes time and a bit of skill to do it. It’s so much simpler to bend and twist the little bellows and let the lens do the work.

I’ve had my Lensbaby 2.0 for about three years now and while I didn't shoot with it as much as I would have liked, it was the go-to tool when I wanted to get a different perspective on a scene. I picked up a Sony A700 a couple of years ago and my Maxxum 7D has been doing duty as a back-up camera. While any lens can be kept on a back-up camera, I have chosen the Lensbaby for the 7D. I allows me rapid access to it and I get a lot more use out of it that way.

I have taken it on vacation, to my granddaughters birth, and out wandering in the garden. It isn't always appropriate to the scene, but when it is, it scores big! If you own a DSLR or a film SLR, the creative doors opened by the Lensbaby are well worth the price of admission.

Update - April, 2009

A new arrival...The Lensbaby Composer. This model produces the same effect asthe 2.0 version, but it does it with a ball and socket assembly containing the lens and focusing mechanism. Yes. Focusing mechanism! This model can be bent into position, focused and locked! Studio flash photography, time exposures and even small aperture/slow shutter shooting are now easily done with the same results as the little bellows-based 2.0. What's more, the Composer has five additional interchangeable lens assemblies (including one that works as a pinhole camera) that provide additional creative paths. The 2.0 is still in use. Using it is more of an art than a science and is just plain fun. Its new sibling, however, opens doors where the old Baby just wasn't tall enough to reach the knob!

Update - December, 2010

Another new arrival! For our 35th anniversary, my Wonderful Wife presented me with a Sony NEX-5. The first accessory I ordered (along with the mandatory extra battery) was the LA-EA1 lens adapter that allows A-mount lenses from my Alpha cameras to be mounted on the tiny NEX body. Since my Lensbabies are A-mount, they now have a compact new home to make it easier to carry a second body with a Lensbaby attached. Since the NEX sports a full APS-C sized sensor, the images are pretty spectacular!

Update - March 2011

The babies just keep getting better! The latest blessed event was the addition of the new Sweet 35 optic. Sadly, this will cause the retirement of my Double Glass optic and its magnetic aperture rings. But there is a bright side! the Sweet 35 optic has a 35mm focal length which is closer to "normal" on an APS-C camera (wide-angle adapter no longer needed) and features a honest-to-goodness diaphragm to adjust the aperture. Optically, it is about the same as the Double Glass, but it is so much easier to control exposure! I keep it mounted in the Composer and attached to my NEX-5 most of the time and it is easy to carry along in a belt-pouch as a second camera on a walkabout. can't wait to see what they come up with next!

Below is a slideshow displaying some of the fun I have had with the Lensbabies!