Lensbaby

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Lensbaby LLC
Type Private
Industry Imaging
Founded Portland, Oregon, U.S. (2004 (2004))
Founder(s)
  • Craig Strong
  • Sam Pardue
Headquarters Portland, Oregon, U.S.
Area served United States
35 + Countries
Key people Craig Strong (CCO)
Greg Sharp (GM)
Products DSLR lenses, Mirrorless lenses, optics
Employees 40 (Aug 3, 2012)[1]
Website www.lensbaby.com
The Lensbaby 2.0

Lensbaby is a line of camera lenses for SLR cameras that combine a simple lens with a bellows or ball and socket mechanism for use in special-effect photography. A lensbaby can give effects normally associated with view cameras. The lenses are for use in selective focus photography and bokeh effects.[2][3]

Overview[edit]

Image created with a Lensbaby selective focus lens.

Lensbaby lenses can be used with most cameras that accept interchangeable lenses, mainly DSLR, SLR, mirrorless, 35mm film and PL mount motion cameras.[4][5]

The focus front standard can be manipulated off axis to move the sharpest area of Focus (called the "sweet spot") to almost anywhere in the frame. This allows the important part of the subject to be rendered fairly sharp with everything else out of focus, even if it is the same distance from the camera. The Lensbaby naturally focuses at approximately 2 feet; closer focus is achieved by pushing the front of the lens out, and infinity focus is achieved by pulling the front of the lens toward the base of the lens. There is extreme spherical and some chromatic aberration outside the central "sweet spot".[6] Lensbaby lenses have no electronic components, disabling auto-focus when mounted on modern cameras. The use of auto-focus is further undermined by the spherical aberration in the lens. In most cases Lensbaby lenses require aperture priority or fully manual mode. The Lensbaby can also be used for infrared photography, but does not include an index mark for infrared photography.

History[edit]

Craig Strong, a professional photographer from Portland Oregon, invented the first Lensbaby lens by combining a vacuum cleaner hose body and a large format speed graphic lens. Strong redesigned the original prototype. He then partnered with entrepreneur Sam Pardue to form Lensbabies, LLC. The Original Lensbaby was launched in 2004 at the WPPI tradeshow. Images taken with the Original Lensbaby featured a 'sweet spot' of sharp focus surrounded by directional blur. This effect was achieved through the use of a single element lens. The Original Lensbaby used interchangeable drop-in apertures held in by a rubber o-ring.

In 2005 Lensbaby released the Lensbaby 2.0 an upgrade to the Original Lensbaby which featured a sharper, brighter optic, creating greater contrast between areas of blur and sharpness. The Lensbaby 2.0 used interchangeable aperture disks that levitated in front of the optic using magnets.

In 2006 Lensbaby introduced the Lensbaby 3G which used a threaded rod system in combination with a locking mechanism to allow the flexible lens body to be locked into place for repeatable results.

In 2007, the Lensbaby 3GPL was launched, allowing cinematographers to use Lensbaby lenses on motion picture cameras.

Optic Swap Introduction and Multiple Lensbodies[edit]

In 2008, Lensbaby released three lenses, the Composer, Muse and Control Freak that worked in combination with interchangeable optics. The Muse featured flexible bellows and was similar in design to the Lensbaby 2.0. The Control Freak was an update on the Lensbaby 3G. The Composer introduced a new ball and socket design, which allowed the user to swivel the lens to move the sweet spot. Concurrently, four interchangeable optics were released to be used in conjunction with the Composer, Muse and Control Freak.

In 2010, Scout, the first straight-bodied Lensbaby lens, was released. It featured a 12mm Fisheye optic.

In 2011, Composer Pro, an upgraded version of the Composer was released. Composer Pro was sold with the Sweet 35 optic, a "sweet spot" selective focus optic. Sweet 35 was the first Lensbaby optic to feature internal apertures. It was followed in 2012 by another optic with internal apertures, the Edge 80 optic. The Edge 80 optic produced a slice of sharp focus surrounded by smooth blur, similar to the effect created by a tilt-shift lens.

Products[edit]

Lens bodies[edit]

Lensbaby lenses mount directly onto SLR or mirrorless camera bodies. They have interchangeable drop in optics. Currently the lineup of lenses come with an optic installed.

Composer Pro
The Composer Pro lensbody operates on a ball and socket and allows photographers to use selective focus on a tilted plane.[7][8] This lens body comes with either a 50mm multi-coated optical glass doublet with drop in aperture[9] or a 35mm 4 multi-coated glass optic with 12-blade adjustable aperture.[10]

Spark

Lensbaby Spark

The Spark is the newest iteration of the Original Lensbaby. It contains a fixed 5.6 aperture optic and uses selective focus to create a center of focus surrounded by gradually increasing blur. It comes in either a Canon EF or Nikon F mount.[11]

Muse
The Muse has a design similar to the Original Lensbaby and the 2.0. Its simple design consists of an interchangeable optic attached to a flexible tube bellows. The user both focuses and moves the area in focus by squeezing and bending the lens. It does not hold position and requires the photographer to maintain the focus manually.[12] The Muse is available with a multi-coated glass optical doublet installed, and comes with f/2.8, f/4, f/5.6, and f/8 aperture disks. It is compatible with 35mm cameras and PL mount.[13]

Lensbaby Scout installed with Fisheye Optic

Scout
The Scout does not have selective focus control and is intended for use as a traditional fisheye lens with a very close minimum focus distance.[14]


Optics[edit]

Lensbaby produces 8 different interchangeable drop in optics. Each optic has a varied effect, ranging from a sharp slice of focus, soft focus to pinhole photography.

Edge 80
The Edge 80 is a 80mm drop-in optic with adjustable aperture. Its aperture ranges from f/2.8-f/22 and it has a flat field of focus. The minimum focusing distance of this optic is approximately 17 inches when the optic is extended forward and fully tilted. Its maximum focusing distance is infinity. The Lensbaby Macro Converters screw on in between the optic and lens, it is incompatible with current 37mm Lensbaby accessories.[15]

Sweet 35
The Sweet 35 is a 35mm drop in optic with adjustable aperture. Its aperture ranges from f/2.5−f/22 with a selective spot of focus. It focuses approximately 7.5" to infinity from the front of the optic. The Lensbaby Macro Converters screw on in between the optic and lens, it is incompatible with current 37mm Lensbaby accessories.[16]

Soft Focus
The Soft Focus is a 50mm drop in optic with swappable aperture disks that range from f/2 up to f/22.[17]

Fisheye
The Fisheye is a 12mm drop in optic with swappable aperture disks that range from f/5.6 to f/22. This optic has a 160 degree of view and focuses from .5" from the front of the optic to infinity.[18]

Double Glass
The Double Glass is a 50mm drop-in optic with magnetic swappable aperture disks. The lens glass is a low dispersion, high refractive index, multi-coated optical glass doublet.[19]

Optic Kit
The Optic Kit contains three separate drop-in optics with four separate effects.

  • Single Glass
  • Plastic
  • Pinhole/Zone Plate

[20]


Accessories[edit]

Lensbaby sells wide angle, telephoto and macro adapters that screw onto the 37mm threads. In March 2011, Lensbaby introduced seven optics that a user can swap into and out of any of the in-production Lensbaby lenses[21] Among the new products was a plastic optic capable of producing the distortion and chromatic aberration familiar to Holga and LOMO users, a fisheye lens, a pinhole for infinite depth of field, zoneplate optic for very soft-focus effects, and an uncoated glass singlet.[21]

Macro Converters
The Macro Converters are a set of one 8mm converter and one 16mm converter. The 8mm converter allows a user to focus from 0"-8.13" while the 16mm lets a user focus from 2.25"-6", when stacked they become a 24mm converter which allows a user to focus from 1.63" to 5".

Optic Macro Converter Maximum Close-Focus Distance
(measured from front of the optic to subject in photo, in inches)
Maximum Close-Focus Distance with Macro Kit Lenses Stacked
(measured from front of macro lens to subject in photo, in inches)
Double Glass +8mm 8.13 1.9
+16mm 6 1.7
+24mm 5 1.5
Sweet 35 +8mm 3.25 N/A
+16mm 2.25 N/A
+24mm 1.63 N/A
Edge 80 +8mm 13.25 N/A
+16mm 10.62 N/A
+24mm 9 N/A
Fisheye +8mm 0 N/A
Soft Focus +8mm 6.13 1.7
+16mm 4.38 1.4
+24mm 3.5 1.2
Single Glass +8mm 7.63 1.8
+16mm 5.5 1.6
+24mm 4.5 1.3
Plastic +8mm 5.5 1.6
+16mm 4.38 1.4
+24mm 3.5 1.2

[22]

Accessory Kit
The Lensbaby Accessory Kit contains four accessories that at one point were sold separately but now (with the exception of the Creative Aperture Kit) are limited to purchase in a kit.

  • Macro Lenses
    • +4 lens
    • +10 lens
  • 0.46x Wide Angle Converter
  • 1.6 Telephoto Converter
  • Creative Aperture Kit

Each item in the kit is compatible with all Lensbaby optics except for the Sweet 35, Edge 80, Spark and Pinhole/Zone Plate. [23]

Creative Aperture Kit
The Creative Aperture Kit are disks that drop into Lensbaby's all non-adjustable aperture optics. The kit is sold as either pre-cut shapes(birds, diamonds, heart, dripsplat, slots, star, swirly, sunburst, whirlpool) or blanks. [24]

0.42x Super Wide Angle
The 0.42x Super Wide Angle converter screws onto the 37mm threads of most Lensbaby optics except for the Sweet 35, Edge 80, Spark and Pinhole/Zone Plate. The converter also has 52mm threads for 52mm filters and step up rings. [25]

Step Up/Shade
The Step Up/Shade was created to fill the gap of Lensbaby lenses incompatibility with standard step-up rings. This Step Up/Shade is 37-52mm and will fit on any of Lensbaby's 37mm threaded optics and allows for any 52mm filter to be screwed onto the front of the Step Up/Shade. [26]


Discontinued Products[edit]

Original Lensbaby
The Original Lensbaby is a flexible camera lens that creates an image that has an area of sharp focus surrounded by graduated blur. The lens is the initial springboard for the products to follow, the initial principal of shifting in the in-focus area by bending the flexible lens tube in any direction.

Specs of the Original Lensbaby[27]

  • 50mm focal length
  • Manual Focus
  • Fixed optical glass element
  • Drop in aperture (f2.8, f/4, f/5.6, f/8)
  • 7" Minimum focusing distance
  • 2.25x2.5, 3.5oz

2.0

The 2.0 is the second generation of Lensbaby lenses, it improved on the initial design of the Original Lensbaby by adding additional apertures and improvement in the optical glass doublet.

The Lensbaby 2.0

'Specs of the 2.0'

  • Coated, high refractive index, low dispersion optical glass doublet
  • 50mm focal length
  • Manual focus
  • drop in aperture (f/2-f.8)
  • 10" minimum focusing distance
  • 2.25" x 2.5", 3.6oz[28]

3G
The 3G is a third generation selective focus SLR lens from Lensbaby. It is an upgraded version of the 2.0 with additions of three focusing rails that emerge from the camera mount and pass through the focusing collar. There is a trigger button on the focusing collar that releases three pins that engage the focusing rails and lock the 3G in a bent position. Once the lens is locked in place, additional fine focus can be achieved by turning the barrel focusing ring which moves the optic in and out like a normal manual focus lens. While the lens is locked the three focusing rails can be adjusted to move the sweet spot around the image.

Specs of the 3G

  • Coated optical glass doublet (the same optic as Lensbaby 2.0)
  • 50mm focal length
  • 37mm filter size
  • 12" minimum focusing distance
  • 3"(7.62 cm) x 3.25"(8.89 cm) wide, 5.7oz(161.6g)
  • drop in aperture (f/2-f/22)

[29]

Control Freak
The Control Freak was modeled after the 3G, the lens allows the user to compress and bend the lens and then lock it in place once the desired focus is achieved. Once in locked position the focus can be adjusted with the three posts and the barrel focusing ring.

Specs of Control Freak

  • Drop-in Double Glass optic
  • Manual/Fingertip Focus
  • Drop in aperture disks (f/2-f/22)
  • Minimum Focus from 9"(23 cm)
  • Maximum Focus to infinity
  • 2.25"(5.7 cm) x 2.5"(6.35 cm), 3.7oz(104.9g)

Composer

The Composer was the first Lensbaby lens to feature a ball-and-socket style body coupled with a manual barrel focus. Unlike the original design, the lens stays in position with a locking ring around the base.[30]

Lensbaby Composer with its aperture disks

The Composer's stability also allows for the long exposures usually needed for pinhole photography.

Specs of the Composer

  • Drop-in Double Glass optic
  • Drop in aperture disks ( f/2.8-f/22)[12]
  • Minimum Focus from 18"(45 cm)
  • Maximum Focus to infinity
  • 2.25"(5.7 cm) x 2.5"(6.35 cm), 3.7oz(104.9g)
  • Manual Focus

[31]

Compatiblity[edit]

Lensbody Mount Compatibility[edit]

Lensbaby lenses are compatible with a variety of products and are sold with various third party mounts. The chart below visualizes the available combinations of Lensbaby lenses and third party camera bodies in existence.

Lensbody Nikon F Canon EF Sony Alpha Olympus 4/3 Pentax K Sony NEX Samsung NX Micro Four Thirds Canon FD Leica R Screw Mount (M42) Pentax 67 Mamiya 645 Minolta Manual Contax/Yashica Olympus OM
Composer Pro Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No No No No No No No
Spark Yes Yes No No No No No No No No No No No No No No
Muse Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No No No No No No No No No No
Scout Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No No No No No No No No No No
*Composer Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No No No No No No No No No No
*Control Freak Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No No No No No No No No No No
*Composer with Tilt Transformer No No No No No Yes No Yes No No No No No No No No
*3G Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No No No No No Yes Yes No No No
*2.0 Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No No Yes Yes Yes No No Yes Yes Yes
*Original Lensbaby Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No No Yes Yes Yes No No Yes Yes Yes

*discontinued

Camera Compatiblity[edit]

Nikon[edit]

Nikon Camera Models:

D100, D90, D80, D70, D70s, D60, D50, D40, D40x

D3000, D3100, D3200, D5000, D5100, D5200 D7000, D7100 D200, D300, D300s D3, D3x, D3s, D4 D600, D700, D800, D800E
Works in aperture priority mode ø ø
In-camera light meter works ø ø
Only works in manual mode with no in-camera light meter ø ø ø ø

Canon[edit]

Canon Camera Models: Rebel Series, KISS Series 1D, 1Dx, 1D MKiiiN, 5D, 5D MKii, 5D MKiii, 6D, 7D 60D, 60Da, 50D, 40D, 30D, 20Da, 20D, 10D 1000D, 300D, 350D, 400D, 450D, 500D, 550D
Works in aperture priority mode
In-camera light meter works
Only works in manual mode with no in-camera light meter ø ø ø ø

Sony Alpha/Minolta Maxxum[edit]

Sony Camera Models: A900, A850, A700, NEX series Sony A580L*, A580*, A560L*, A560*, A550*, A500*, A450*, A390* A380*, A350*, A330, A300*, A290*, A230, A200*, A100* A77*, A65*, A55*, A35*, A33*, A58*, A99* Dynax Series*, Maxxum Series*, xi Series*, si Series*, i Series* 9000*, 7000*, 5000* RD-175*
Works in aperture priority mode ø ø ø ø ø
In-camera light meter works ø ø ø ø ø
Only works in manual mode ø ø

*Camera body needs to have the shutter lock mechanism turned off in order to function with a Lensbaby lens.

Leica[edit]

Lensbaby only provides a mount for the Leica Digilux 3 at this time.

PL/Motion Picture[edit]

In order to use a Lensbaby with your digital video camera, you will need to use an adapter. The following companies make adapters which have been tested and used successfully with a Lensbaby: P+S Technik, Redrock M2, Brevis35, Letus35 and SGpro. To use an adapter with the PL mount Lensbaby, you will need to choose an adapter that will attach to your camera (has the correct thread size, for example 72mm or 82mm) and features a PL Mount on the other end. You can also use an adapter with a digital video camera and an SLR mount Lensbaby; in this case you will need to choose an adapter that will attach to your camera and features an SLR (for example, Nikon) Mount on the other end.

Olympus[edit]

Olympus Camera Models E5, E3, E30 E450, E420 E520, E510, E500 E620, E600, E-PL1, E-PL2, E-PL3, E-PL5 E-P1, E-P2, E-P3 E-PM1, E-PM2, OM-D E-M5*
Works in aperture priority mode
In-camera light meter works
Only works in manual mode ø ø ø ø ø ø ø

*Please note: The Composer with Tilt Transformer is not compatible with the Olympus OM-D E-M5.

Panasonic[edit]

Panasonic Lumix Camera models GH1, GH2, GH3 G1, G2, G3, G5, G10, GF1, GF2, GF3, GF5 GX1
Works in aperture priority mode
In-camera light meter works
Only works in manual mode ø ø ø ø

Product Comparison[edit]

Optic Swap System[edit]

The Lensbaby Optic Swap system makes it possible to change the look and feel of digital images by changing out the optic instead of the lens. With the exception of the Sweet 35 and Edge 80 optics, the optic swap tool which is included with every optic as the lid of the optic case. The tool must be aligned with the notches of the optic and twisted counterclockwise to remove the optic.
The Sweet 35 and Edge 80 optics are inserted by aligning them with the dot on the lensbody and twisting it into the locked position. To remove them, push the optic into the lensbody and turn to release it.

[32]

Product Effects[edit]

Lensbaby products vary in the effects they produce, the table below illustrates the diversity of creative options that can be obtained when using the Lensbaby system.

Tilt Sweet Spot of Focus Slice of Focus Fisheye Pinhole/Zone Macro Soft Focus Toy Creative Aperture
Composer Pro, Muse, Spark, Composer* Sweet 35 Optic, Double Glass Optic, Plastic Optic, Single Glass Optic, Edge 80 Fisheye Optic Pinhole/Zone Plate Macro Kit, Macro Converters, Fisheye Optic, 0.42x Super Wide Angle Soft Focus Optic Plastic Optic, Single Glass Optic Creative Aperture Kit


*Discontinued

Selective Focus[edit]

Most Lensbaby products utilize a technique called selective focus, the original technique[33] requires coming close to the photograph's subject and opening the camera lens to a wide aperture. This gives a shallow depth of field and creates a look where the main subject is sharp and everything in the front and back of it is blurred. With Lensbaby lenses and optics the selective focus becomes moveable and acts as a spot of focus on one main object, unlike traditional techniques, objects at the same DOF will also be out of focus if so desired by the user.[34]

Example of selective focus

Sweet Spot vs. Slice[edit]

With the exception of the Soft Focus optic, Fisheye optic, Edge 80 optic and Pinhole/Zone Plate, Lensbaby products traditionally create a sharp round spot of focus with a ring of blur that transcends. The Edge 80 optic creates a different effect more similar to a traditional tilt shift lens DOF. The Edge 80 creates a 'slice' of focus which transcends typical DOF and creates sharp focus from edge to edge in a slice of an image while blurring out the rest of the image.[35]

Creative Apertures[edit]

Playing off of the utilization of drop in apertures that The Original Lensbaby started, Lensbaby released the ability to create custom drop in apertures. Traditional aperture disks came standard with different sized holes cut into the center, these could be swapped out with a magnetic aperture tool. Because of this the ability to add customized disks was a natural progression of the original concept. Lensbaby offers precut disks in various shapes that had been selected in a contest. Current shapes offered in the custom kit are; swirl, birds, sunburst, splat, flower, heart, star, waves, slats. Blank disks are also still offered at this time by the company.[36]

Tilt[edit]

With the exception of Scout, Lensbaby lenses allow photographers to tilt the lens moving the selective focus spot around to the desired location. Unlike a tilt shift lens, Lensbaby lenses do not shift perspective, they simply change the plane of focus. [37]

In Movies and TV Shows[edit]

Lensbaby products have been used in the following films, television shows.

Movies[edit]

TV[edit]

Shorts[edit]

Last Day Dream [38]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Wendy Culverwell (2012-08-03). "Lensbaby Clicks with Fans". Portland Business Journal. Retrieved 2013-05-22. 
  2. ^ Alain Briot (August 2007). "Reflections on Photography & Art - 8: Exercising your Creativity". Luminous Landscape. Retrieved 2011-11-28. 
  3. ^ Andy Westlake (June 2011). "Lensbaby Composer Pro / Sweet 35 Review". dpreview. Retrieved 2011-11-28. 
  4. ^ "Lensbaby FAQ". Retrieved 2011-11-28. 
  5. ^ "Lensbaby Composer". Retrieved 2011-11-28. 
  6. ^ Jackson Lynch (2009-08-24). "Faux Photoshop: Articulating Lens Lets You Art Up Pics on the Fly". Wired. Retrieved 2011-11-28. 
  7. ^ Jim Fisher. "Lensbaby Composer Pro Review". Retrieved 2013-05-22. 
  8. ^ "Lensbaby Composer® Pro with Sweet™ 35 Optic". 
  9. ^ "Lensbaby Double Glass Optic". 
  10. ^ "Lensbaby Sweet 35; Optic". 
  11. ^ "Lensbaby Spark". 
  12. ^ a b Josh Root. "Lensbaby Composer, Muse, Optic Swap System Review". Retrieved 2011-11-28. 
  13. ^ "Lensbaby Muse". 
  14. ^ "Lensbaby - Scout". Retrieved 2011-11-28. 
  15. ^ "Lensbaby - Edge 80". Retrieved 2013-05-23. 
  16. ^ "Lensbaby - Sweet 35". Retrieved 2013-05-23. 
  17. ^ "Lensbaby - Soft Focus". Retrieved 2013-05-23. 
  18. ^ "Lensbaby - Fisheye". Retrieved 2013-05-23. 
  19. ^ "Lensbaby - Double Glass". Retrieved 2013-05-23. 
  20. ^ "Lensbaby - Optic Kit". Retrieved 2013-05-23. 
  21. ^ a b "Lensbaby - Optic Swap System". Retrieved 2011-11-28. 
  22. ^ "Lensbaby - Macro Charts". Retrieved 2013-05-23. 
  23. ^ "Lensbaby - Accessory Kit". Retrieved 2013-05-23. 
  24. ^ "Lensbaby - Creative Aperture Kit". Retrieved 2013-05-23. 
  25. ^ "Lensbaby - 0.42x Super Wide Angle". Retrieved 2013-05-23. 
  26. ^ "Lensbaby - Step Up/Shade". Retrieved 2013-05-23. 
  27. ^ Joe Farace (2005-04-01). "Shutterbug - Lensbaby 3G Review". Retrieved 2013-05-24. 
  28. ^ "DP Review - Lensbabies launches Lensbaby 2.0 for brighter, sharper, faster selective focus photography.". 2005-03-22. Retrieved 2013-05-24. 
  29. ^ Frederick Rassmusen (July 2007). "Lensbaby 3G Review". Retrieved 2013-05-24. 
  30. ^ Martin Bailey (2009-06-17). "The Lensbaby Composer - Initial impressions". Retrieved 2011-11-28. 
  31. ^ D. Travis North (2010-06-09). "Shutterphoto.net - Lensbaby Composer, Crazy, Fun and Inspirational - Review". Retrieved 2013-05-24. 
  32. ^ Sahlin, Doug (2011). Digital Landscape and Nature Photography For Dummies (1st ed.). Retrieved June 3, 2013. 
  33. ^ Elinor Stecker-Orel (2007-12-10). "Adorama - Selective Focus". Retrieved 2013-06-03. 
  34. ^ Guy Prives (2012-09-18). "DIY Photography - Lensbaby Spark: Selective Focus On The Cheap - Lens Review". Retrieved 2013-06-03. 
  35. ^ Janice Chen (2012-02-15). "ZD Net: New Lensbaby Edge 80 Optic brings high-quality optics and sharp tilt-shift". Retrieved 2013-06-03. 
  36. ^ Dan Bracaglia (2010-11-04). "Popular Photography: Lensbaby Offers User-Designed Creative Aperture Disks". Retrieved 2013-06-03. 
  37. ^ Alice Truong (2012-04-30). "Forbes: Lensbaby Makes Tilt Shift Simple (and Affordable)". Retrieved 2013-06-03. 
  38. ^ "Last Day Dream - Chris Milk". Retrieved 2013-06-04. 

External links[edit]