Anyone using a Lensbaby?

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by hoffy, May 27, 2013.

  1. hoffy

    hoffy Member

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    Greetings all,

    Recently I have been thinking of getting a Lensbaby of some description to use on one of my 35mm rigs. At this stage, it would more than likely have to be for my Minolta AF setup (so, heavens forbid, I can also use them on my Pixel Exciter).

    Anyhow, I have been looking at the range and must admit there is a tad more choice available now then a few years ago!

    Does anyone here use a Lensbaby? Can anyone give me first-hand experience of using these lenses and lens bodies on a Film camera? Is it worth while getting the more modern gimbal type designs as opposed to the older bellows?

    While what I have seen has been digital centric, I do think that they would work really well on 35mm film as well

    Cheers
     
  2. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    No. I looked at one. Then I moved on.
     
  3. winger

    winger Subscriber

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    I haven't tried them, but I've heard that they're fun to play with, but they don't always do what you hope they will (won't replace a tilt/shift, for example). If you're looking for a not-quite-one-trick-pony, I guess they'd be on the list. Though I've thought about getting one of the ones that'll fit Pentax. Not every model fits all brands, IIRC.
     
  4. Mainecoonmaniac

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber

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    I bought one used on eBay and used it for a few months. I didn't like it so I resold it in eBay. I didn't like the smeary look. I sought the look of a Petzval lens. Go to flicker for some samples.
     
  5. Newt_on_Swings

    Newt_on_Swings Member

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    You can try to hold up a lens to the camera without mounting and shoot, I think people call it free lensing to get the same effect. I think there are also tutorials to make them out of a spare lens and toilet plunger for a few bucks. id try that route before actually buying a product which may create an effect Id only use a few times.
     
  6. Richard S. (rich815)

    Richard S. (rich815) Subscriber

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  7. hoffy

    hoffy Member

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    Thanks - That indeed might be worth while trying. I have a few lenses at home that would be suitable donors. I could possibly also get away with an enlarger lens as well

    Cheers
     
  8. Richard S. (rich815)

    Richard S. (rich815) Subscriber

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    Or do as I did and buy it used from those who do not like it. Got mine for about $35 on eBay a few years ago.
     
  9. Nathan Riehl

    Nathan Riehl Member

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    I have a Scout with the 12mm fisheye. It's fantastic. I shot my final assignment for my B/W class with it on my N2020.
     
  10. rco3

    rco3 Member

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    I have a Lensbaby 2.0 Muse in Nikon mount with the doublet glass optic and the soft-focus flat-field optic. I also eventually got the closeup kit, tele extender and wide angle adapter. Sometime soon, I suspect that I'll get the new 80mm f/2.8 flat-field optic.

    I quite enjoy using mine; I find that the restrictions and modifications that it provides represent a useful framework within which to work, some resistance against which to struggle. It's more like a Stratocaster than a Les Paul. It doesn't suit every subject, of course. The surface pseudo-profundity ("ooh, shallow DOF! exaggerated blur and subject isolation!") of the "sweet-spot" effect is itself a challenge, daring the photographer to go beyond the obvious and clichéd and find a way to use the effect to legitimately enhance the photo. I find this to cause me to spend more time looking at aspects of my imagery that I otherwise mightn't, and honestly some of my favorite photos have been taken with the Lensbaby. I'm sure that's just because I'm a lousy photographer, so don't get excited.

    I also like the organic feeling of the Muse's accordion/bellows focusing. There's an immediacy to it that I like. The doublet optic is not a replacement for a 50mm f/1.8 Nikkor in any respect. It's not meant to be. The spherical aberration off-axis is deliberate and heavy. You can control it with aperture. It's not subtle. If you're thinking it's a poor man's T/S system, keep looking. This is an effect, a deliberate and controlled distortion. Some folks hate it. The BBC engineers who first tried recording Hendrix spent hours trying to get rid of the distortion in his guitar. Some folks hate Hendrix. Me, I like my Lensbaby. Probably means I'm an unimaginative photographer who can't differentiate between gimmickry and meaning. I should just use Instagram on my iPhone and leave the real photographers alone.

    As for gimbal vs. bellows, it's simple: tripod or not? The Muse (bellows) is useless on a tripod. It has no purpose other than handheld. The ball version is probably somewhat usable handheld (never tried one), but is essential for tripod use. I love using my Muse for close work - I've been known to put it on an inch or so of extension tube and get some really nice results. Of course, it's just a gimmick and "nice" as far as my work goes is about equivalent to the first-culled crap from a real photographer. I suggest you avoid the LensBaby like a Day-Glo Holga TLR. Save your money, get a Leica. They have very little distortion, and what they do have is really really special and actually does improve your photographs.
     
  11. hoffy

    hoffy Member

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    Haha! This response has made my day! Somehow I think others might not get your subtle humour!

    I have to admit that after reading some responses both here and elsewhere on the net, I am a bit confused. People seem to ohhh and ahhh when certain deliberate effects and methods are tried in photography, but immediately discount a lensbaby as a gimmick. I am sure that if these were first marketed 150 years ago, they would be totally acceptable.

    My intention, if I do end up getting one, is it will be just another tool to use when photographing cars and bikes. I have come across a photographer on Flickr is doing wonderful things with a Lensbaby Muse at rod shows, which quite frankly, has inspired me.

    Thanks for the feedback on the Muse Vs Composer. I'll keep that in mind when choosing which way I go (if I do bite the bullet).

    Cheers
     
  12. Mainecoonmaniac

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber

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  13. Dr Croubie

    Dr Croubie Member

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    I've got one (well, two, and a whole crudload of optics), but i've only so far used it on my 7D, not film.

    Points to note:
    Bodies, there's currently 4 styles:
    Bellows: Lensbaby original, Lensbaby 2.0, Muse, Spark are all the same. The first two are fixed-lens, the last two are optic-swap. Frankly, the spark was just a Muse in a new package. They all work the same, as mentioned previously, handheld-only.
    Bellows with lock: 3G and Control Freak. Same as the bellows, you can swing it any way you want, but then you can lock it and fine-tune it exactly how you want, great for tripod and macros. The 3G was even available in MF (like P67, with a 100mm lens). Control Freak is the newer 'optic swap' version, 35mm only. I started with Muse and liked it so much I bought a Control Freak. Been meaning to on-sell the Muse but too lazy.
    Ball: Composer and Composer Pro (same thing, just black. Maybe metal). Also in 'Tilt Transformer' style (where the front bit comes off or something) to use Nikon F lenses on digital mirrorless.
    Straight: Scout. Just a simple back/forward focussing to keep the 'sweet spot' in the centre.

    Optics: 50mm Plastic, Single Glass, Double Glass (in order of increasing "traditional" IQ), Soft Focus, Pinhole/Zoneplate. 12mm Fisheye, 35mm, 80mm. I've got all but the 12/35/80mm versions.

    Then there's all the accessories: wide, ultrawide, tele, macro closeup, they all work as well as any others. I've had good success with the Lensbaby Macro lens mounted on my EF 50/1.8 II with a step-down ring.

    Now, with metering, you're going to have a problem with TTL (at least, I did). On my digital I only really use Live-View, the metering is always correct. Using the Viewfinder the metering can be off by a few stops (at least with digital I can chimp). Same as using a normal Tilt-Shift lens can throw off the metering. So either use an external meter, or TTL meter with it centered, and AE-lock or transfer the values to Manual metering. Or maybe you're lucky and moving it won't mess with your TTL metering.

    As to whether or not you like 'the look' is totally up to you. To me it's the same as Fisheye, or really narrow DOF portraits (even birds), or 'miniature' using a Tilt-lens the 'wrong' way. Sometimes it's good, sometimes it really adds to the photo, sometimes it gets very very overused (like those mobile-phone pictures that just blur the top/bottom of a picture to make it look like a tilt-lens was used to make it look miniature. Those shit me sometimes).
    But hey, if you like it, do it. It's just like porn on the internet, no matter what you make there's someone, somewhere, who'll like it...
     
  14. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    "Anyone using a Lensbaby? "

    No. You're joking, right?
     
  15. M Carter

    M Carter Member

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    I've got a Vanessa & Louvier print, emulsion on metal, that at least appears to be a lensbaby or some kind of soft tilt lens. It's a gorgeous print, however they did it (one of the few "original" pieces of art I own).

    They're tools. I dremeled the lens from a Holga, mounted it to a spring on a rail clamp, and shot a music video with it - tilt-shift holga with "film burn" from the open sides. Looked really beautiful. If I shot everything with it, it would be a gimmick though.