Trying out a Lensbaby

Besides the various gear and all those backpacks I mentioned picking up in a prior post, one of the miscellaneous items we got was a Lensbaby lens (for Nikon cameras). Whereas normal lenses have a goal of keeping the entire image as sharp as possible, the design of the Lensbaby is very different – you selectively focus on only a particular part of the image. If, unlike me, you’re artistic, then you can probably achieve the cool photos that they display in their gallery. Otherwise, you’ll probably conclude that you’re not going to practically be able to use the lens, and you’ll give it away or sell it – which is indeed what we’re now trying to do. If you’re interested, let me know!

Still, it is a little interesting to play with. Besides selective focus, you can also use oddly-shaped aperture disks that control what the out-of-focus highlights look like. It’s sort of counter-intuitive, but if you put some sort of cut-out in front of your lens, it doesn’t put a frame of that shape around your picture, it actually just controls what the out-of-focus bright spots look like. ┬áHere’s a shot out my window at night, with Bahamut in the foreground, using a standard Nikon 50mm lens:

The lights in the background (mostly streetlights) look like 7-sided polygons, because the Nikon 50mm f/1.4D used above has a 7-bladed aperture diaphragm with straight blades (which is not well suited to this kind of shot; the 24-70 would have produced nicer rounded edges, for example). But throw in selective focus, and a heart-shaped aperture for the Lensbaby, and it looks like this:

You may need to click to get the larger image and zoom in on the head to see it clearly, but the head is mostly in focus whereas the rest of the figure isn’t. And the background is now nice friendly heart shapes. I think the lens could be interesting if used correctly, but it’s incredibly manual, and thus ill-suited to fast-moving kids.

Now, a reason for posting this is that while I didn’t get a picture I liked with the Lensbaby, I fared a little better getting pictures of the Lensbaby. Here’s an embedded SmugMug gallery of the shots of the kit, looking a little better than past efforts to take pictures of equipment – this still doesn’t show in an RSS reader, unfortunately; if you click on it in a browser it will take you to a SmugMug gallery that has the full-sized shots:

There’s still so much camera gear in my place – the above was taken with the D3 and the 105mm VR lens I bought recently – that I guess I don’t have much of an excuse for poor shots, though it still took some learning to get the above. I’m lucky the Lensbaby kit is actually pretty small, this made it a lot easier to photograph. The biggest difference was definitely having two flashes (previously, I only had one), and the umbrella to get more even light (you can see the reflection of the umbrella in some of the above). Still, the background is a combination of the projection screen we watch movies on (or used to, before kids), and my wife’s jacket turned inside out. Hey, whatever works, right?

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