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the beautiful world of the lensbaby

At 1.45 on Friday afternoon the post arrived through the letter box of my flat and there was a “sorry we missed you” card from a well known courier service, now I know for a fact that they weren’t sorry they missed me and I’m (90%) sure that they didn’t even try to drop off the parcel that was now waiting for me in the (not so) local collection point.

This would usually annoy me but on the card it said from San Francisco and the only thing I was expecting from the states this week was 2 Lensbaby lenses this was great except I also had to be at a BBC shoot at 2pm! So I drove as fast as I could, picked up the parcel and whilst on my way to the location I opened up the box and had a look inside.

Just as a side note, I’m very geeky I get very excited about technology, lenses and new stuff! This isn’t the first time I seen a lensbaby , I shot with one a few years ago and it was the Control Freak version which was a lot of fun to use although at the time it was mounted on a lens adapter in front of a Sony ex1 which made it interesting to operate.

But with the advent of DSLR’s this really is a great time for lens baby to flourish and for people like me to make use of them!

So I got to the location and showed the BBC team the new lenses and they said great lets use them on some of the location shots! And so we did.

Lensbaby kindly sent me the Composer and the Muse to play with and what’s amazing about these lenses is that you can take out the optics and switch them around. So alongside this I got a fisheye optic and a soft focus optic which all have adaptable apertures (check this link to their website for more info

The Composer retails at around £170, the Muse £70, fisheye £100 and soft focus £65.

Lensbaby have been around for a while now and on youtube and vimeo there are many many videos shot with 5d’s, 7d’s, Nikon cameras etc… but I haven’t really heard many people talking about them, so what are they like?

Well I have been using the composer with fisheye optic for most of the week and im hooked! Now you wouldn’t just use this lens for a shoot as that would be crazy but as an accent shot, it excels its just fun and looks a little mental! I like it a lot because it’s not too serious and yet it can produce stunning shots if used in the right way. And for under £300 to get a fish eye that is this crisp is pretty amazing!

The nice thing about the Composer is that you can lock the movement of the lens into a static position where as the Muse is always moving and for video that can become a bit tricky.

The build quality is great the separate aperture rings are fun if a little tricky to use on location (wind and rain is tough to deal with at the best of times!)

The soft focus optic is also really nice although I have struggled with it a bit, for stills it seems amazing but for video I wasn’t really shooting anything that was enhanced by that look so I haven’t used that as much.

Downsides to the lenses, I had a look at a few sites that were talking about Lensbaby and one of the recurring themes is that these effects can be achieved in post… and yes you pretty much can create these effects in post but its more than just an effect as with all lenses the specific look and feel comes down to the skill of the operator and in this respect using the Lensbaby as an additional tool in the cinematographers arsenal is the point. For me personally it is much more fun going out with the lens and adapting the shot to the lens rather than shoot your stuff go back to the edit suite and then click a few buttons!

Overall Lensbaby lenses are exciting, different and pretty cheap, they aren’t suitable for every shot but they will be their if you want that unique look and feel that only these lenses can give, and most importantly they are a lot of fun.


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