The Lensbaby series of lenses has quickly grown in popularity, not only among fine-art and portrait photographers, but also with those of us interested in outdoor photography. Providing some of the creative flexibility of a view camera, these lenses offer the ability to control the quality of focus with a D-SLR.
While I’ve played with previous generations of these lenses, I’ve always been frustrated with issues of repeatability. The results were often interesting, but because I had to manually hold the position and angle of the lens to achieve a certain look, it was difficult to produce consistent results. The Lensbaby 3G eliminates that issue with an innovative design.
With the equivalent focal length of a 50mm lens, the Lensbaby 3G is based on the same principle as the other lenses before it: a lens barrel that can be compressed and bent to change not only the focus point, but also the plane of focus. The big difference, however, is the inclusion of focusing poles that allow for the fixing of the lens position, providing the repeatability that I’ve always desired.
As I love using the lens for close-up work, it was an easy thing to pull the front lens assembly and lock it into position by pressing a single button. I could then frame my subject and fine-tune focus using the barrel-focusing ring, which controlled the multicoated optical glass doublet. Adjusting the plane of focus was easy by just slowly twisting the rotating knobs at the end of the focusing poles.
I achieved the best results by having my camera on a tripod. Though the lens is easily controllable without one, I found that I was able to take my time and fine-tun the look of my image by eliminating the influence of my body moving toward and away from the subject.
The lens includes a series of magnetically levitating aperture disks ranging in ƒ-stops from ƒ/2.0 to ƒ/22. These drop-in disks are easy to place and remove and provide another tool for creatively using depth of field, along with different planes of focus.
The resulting images are distinctive and offer a playful alternative to the traditional close-up or landscape image. The Lensbaby 3G helps photographers play and discover new possibilities for their photography. It not only keeps photography interesting, but it's also a whole lot of fun. List Price: $270.
Contact: Lensbabies, (877) 536-7222, www.lensbabies.com.
Specs Of Note
Focal Range: 50mm
Filter Size: 37mm
Lens Construction: Coated optical glass doublet
Size: 3x3.25 inches
Weight: 5.7 ounces
1 Focusing poles allow for fixed-lens position
2 50mm-equivalent focal length limits barrel distortion
3 37mm filter thread for optional filters
4 Fine-tune focus using barrel focusing ring