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photoblogography - Just some stuff about photography

Lensbabies

in Olympus E-System , Friday, December 23, 2005

I was pleased (and a little surprised) to recently discover that the Lensbaby "creative" lens is available for the FourThirds mount. I just had to try it. The idea of putting a bad-by-design lens on the front of an expensive DSLR is too appealing to pass up. Although, to be fair, the Lensbaby is actually well designed, well built, and a genuine creative tool. To some extent it is a fully flexible tilt/shift lens, but not really. Basically it is a lens with a "sweet spot", a small area of sharp focus, which softens and distorts away from this spot. By moving the lens around (essentially, it consists of a flexible tube with a piece of glass at the front), this sweet spot can be moved around. This makes it predictable and repeatable, unlike, say, a Holga, although admittedly the "repeatable" part might be pushing things a little. zurich_231205-004549.jpg It isn't particularly easy to use at first. Obviously, it has to be used in full manual mode. Focus is achieved by compressing and holding the tube, usually easier said than done. With a viewfinder of lesser quality than the Olympus E-1, it could get very difficult - probably it is much easier with a 35mm camera. At maximum aperture (f2.0) the depth of field is very shallow, making it even harder. And yes, you can change the aperture, by the ingeniously simple method of snapping on a series of magnetically fixed masks. Although it is easy to go overboard with the Lensbaby, forgetting that any creative tool, including this one, should not control you rather than you control it, it is both fun and rewarding. To see some really creative uses of a Lensbaby, look here.