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LENSBABY 2.0 Digital Lens

LENSBABY 2.0 Digital Lens

A Creative COW Product Review

Jim Harvey reviews:LENSBABY 2.0 Digital Lens

Jim Harvey Jim Harvey
JHV Digital
New York, USA

©Copyright 2006 Jim Harvey and Creativecow.net. All Rights Reserved
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I
n this article, CreativeCOW.net contributing editor Jim Harvey reviews LENSBABY 2.0 Digital Lens and questions readers, "Ever want to take those dreamy photos that have a shallow depth of field but didn't want to invest in the Photoshop time or the mess of Vaseline® on your filters or worse yet the expense of a View camera? Read on for one of the most fun items I've come across in quite a while. I confess that this review took three times longer than usual because I have been so busy playing with my Lensbaby!..


Lensbaby 2.0Every now and then some little bit of gear comes along that just changes the way you work. No, check that, something that changes the way you look at things. The Lensbaby 2.0 is just such a piece of equipment. This little accessory lens is just beyond fun, beyond trick, it's really addictive. Once you begin to play with it, you'll find yourself making excuses to use it in your work. All of a sudden your style will begin to incorporate blurred shallow depth of focus shots that will begin to become more and more sophisticated and organic the more you play with the lens.


But what exactly IS a LENSBABY? Well, it's a lens, but it's also a tilt camera ... or is it a bellows lens? Actually, it's a little bit of both and something more basic and friendly. As it comes out of its little sack, it's an F2.0 lens housed in a flexible tube that attaches to your Nikon, Canon, Olympus, Pentax, Leica, Minolta film camera or DSLR. There are other mounts available, so the good people at LENSBABIES have a whole list of available cameras at their website:

Lensbaby So how does it work? It's simple really, you just attach it to your camera, manipulate the focus by squeezing the lens against the tubing and find your focus "Sweet Spot". While it sounds simple enough, it does take a little time to get a handle on actually making the photograph that you're looking for. Fortunately, the learning curve is short enough that you'll be very pleased in short order. Using a digital camera is probably a better idea, as you'll get that instant feedback and you can burn hundreds of photos while getting the hang of manipulating the lens. (Believe me, you WILL be shooting more than you ever would imagine once you get this lens. It's positively addicting!)
http://www.lensbabies.com/



Flowers On bicycle
Wedding bouquet

Magical results from the Lensbaby 2.0 are easy to achieve




LeafFlower
Floral bouquet


The photographs that you'll be making with the Lensbaby 2.0 are nothing short of magical. They throw away that idea that everything must be perfect and perfectly focused. We have become hypnotized by pixel counts and resolution charts. Take a moment to read or listen to any group of videographer's, photographers etc., and you'll hear all the comments about how sharp this lens is compared to that. The Lensbaby photos are exactly the opposite. More blur than sharpness, the ability to move that “sweet spot” around. An hour with this lens and you'll be positively giddy with the results that will present themselves to you.

For product shots, the Lensbaby 2.0 is priceless. At first blush, you might think “why do I need this when I can do this in Photoshop?” Well, you CAN do this in Photoshop at the cost of probably an hour or so of very careful masking and handwork, while you can do it instantly with the Lensbaby 2.0. Working with Photoshop is great fun for those of us who love Photoshop and daunting for those of us who aren't so Photoshop Savvy. With the Lensbaby 2.0, even a Photoshop knot-head can make extremely shallow DOF photos that are incredibly creative and interesting. And you can vary the shot simply by squeezing your fingers a little differently each time.



For those who are spec happy, the following is LENSBABIES Spec Sheet:

  • Available in mounts for Canon EF, Nikon F, Pentax K, Olympus E1, Minolta Maxxum, Olympus OM, Canon FD, Leica R, Minolta Manual, Sigma, Contax/Yashica, and Screw mounts
  • Focal Length: right around 50 mm
  • Focus Type: Manual - fingertip, actually
  • Optical element: coated, high refractive index, low dispersion optical glass doublet
  • Aperture Type: Interchangeable levitating magnetic apertures
  • Apertures: f2.0, f2.8, f4, f5.6, f8
  • Nominal Focus: approximately 18 inches
  • Maximum Focus: infinity and beyond
  • Minimum Focus: approximately 10 inches (achieved by pushing on the back of the focusing collar
  • Size: 2.25" high x 2.5" wide
  • Weight: ~3.6 oz.
  • Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price: $150


The Original Lensbaby is a bit less expensive, but for the extra $50 dollars or so, I think you get a great deal more flexibility with the Lensbaby 2.0. The Lensbaby 2.0 is brighter and faster than the original and also has better optics with a coated LD doublet. The Original Lensbaby is a single uncoated glass element. The aperture rings on the 2.0 systems are also held in place with a magnetic system that floats the aperture ring above the optic. This is a very clever system that takes simplicity to a new level yet delivers exceptional performance. They are removed with the mini lens pen and never touch the glass. I have to say here that if you are pressed for cash, the Original Lensbaby will work just fine. Go up to the website and check out the original gallery to see what I'm talking about.


Photoshop will set you back about $650.00. A Jar of Vaseline will run you around a buck or two and you have to clean everything up afterwards. (Unfair comparison, I know. Yes, you can do lots more with Photoshop). However, the only way that I know to make this effect is either with Photoshop (expensive), Vaseline (messy) or the Lensbaby (Fun, inexpensive, portable, no cleanup required). The LENSBABY 2.0 will set you back about $150.00.

Lensbabies and case
The Double Macro Set will set you back a whopping $30.00. This is better than fast food!



You can add some very inexpensive accessories to the LENSBABY 2.0, so you'll have even more flexibility (a set of Macro Lenses is only $30.00). They come in a nice little padded pouch and extend the capabilities of the Lensbaby 2.0 quite nicely. You get a +4 and a +10 lens, which gives you three ranges of MACRO. The +4 enables you to focus from 6" to 13". The +10 lens gives you 3.5" to 5" and if you stack them together you can focus from 2" to 3". The Macro lenses are amazingly sharp for such inexpensive glass. They WILL deliver excellent results. At first, I didn't think that the Macro Set would be of any real use as the Lensbaby 2.0 focuses fairly close to begin with. After using it, I've changed my mind and wouldn't venture out without my Macro Set in the camera bag as well.


Close up with shallow DOF
The Macro System allows for extreme close up with shallow DOF



In Conclusion

If you are at all interested in taking your photography to a different level then you should really check out the Lensbaby 2.0. They have a rock solid guarantee that I doubt they've ever had to honor. (If you don't like your Lensbaby, send it back within 30 days and they will refund your money). It's nice to find something that is simply FUN to use and does what it claims to do. This is one of those things.

5 Cows
I predict that you will be looking all over the studio or house for things to photograph when you get this lens. I am STILL looking for daily excuses to use this marvelous tool!


All Photos © JHV Digital/Jim Harvey unless otherwise noted
Lensbaby 2.0 and accessories courtesy of Lensbabies.com
Child in Flowers courtesy of Lensbabies.com © Kirsten Hunter
Bouquet Photo courtesy of Lensbabies.com © Sherie Steinberg Coté
Second Bouquet photo courtesy of Lensbabies.com ©Craig Strong

©Copyright 2006 Jim Harvey | Creative Cow
All Rights Reserved


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