Lensbaby Pro Effects Traveling Kit #12 – by Patrick Fallon

Lensbaby Pro Effects Kit

The Photo Brigade has partnered with Lensbaby to ship their new Pro Effects Kit from shooter to shooter across the United States. We will be posting photos, videos, and reviews from stops along the way. If you’re interested in trying the kit yourself, please email us about getting on our list. If you can’t wait, you can buy a Pro Effects kit online!
Patrick Fallon
 
Patrick T. Fallon is a photojournalist in Los Angeles working in news, features and sports. A graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism, his regular clients include the Los Angeles Times, Bloomberg News and The New York Times.
 

When the original Lensbaby first came out, I remember picking it up, looking at it, shooting a few frames and thinking, “it’s neat – but I can’t really use it for anything: focus is too hard/slow/unreliable and it’s fun, but just not right for me.”

Depending on the work you do and rules of the publications you shoot for, using a Lensbaby is out of the question. At the LA Times, tilt-shift lenses are allowed, but Lensbabies are not. This was one of the biggest issues I had when coming to review this lens – it was outside of my normal comfort zone of shooting.

Lensbaby

Sweet 35mm. Taken with a Canon 5D Mark III with the Lensbaby composer on Sunday, July 7, 2013 in Hermosa Beach, Calif.

The most recent model however, with switchable lenses including the Edge 80mm and Sweet 35mm, offers a lot more ability to focus and compose in a refined way. Called the “Composer Pro with Sweet 35 Optic,” Lensbaby describes the lens “features a metal swivel ball and a fluid, accurate dampened focus ring” – In other words: No more having to turn little wheels in a cumbersome process or using magnets to drop in and out aperture rings. The new Lensbaby feels more like a real lens, has an aperture ring on the front of it and enables focusing in a more natural and faster fashion. (It is still a manual focus lens and it takes some getting used to nail focus)

Lensbaby

Sweet 35mm. Taken with a Canon 5D Mark III with the Lensbaby composer on Sunday, July 7, 2013 in Hermosa Beach, Calif.

I found myself using live view on my Canon 5D Mk III to check focus a lot, since just trying to judge it by the viewfinder on the 35mm did not always work for me, but improved with time. With the 80mm, like any narrow depth of field lens, it is easy to be just slightly soft on someone’s eye, so be careful if trying to nail the crispness in one’s eyes.

Lensbaby

Dad. Edge 85m. Taken with a Canon 5D Mark III with the Lensbaby composer on Sunday, July 7, 2013 in Hermosa Beach, Calif.

I also noticed a few times when I tilted the 35mm lens, the black ring of the Lensbaby would appear on my full-frame Canon 5D Mk III. I imagine users of 1D and 30/40/50/7D Cameras with cropped sensors would not experience this issue. Likewise, I also experienced sharp focusing issues when the lens was at the limits of its movement, so keeping things a little more together will give sharper focus.

Lensbaby

Not exactly a sports lens – but with a little time learning to use the Sweet 35mm to follow focus was much easier. Taken with a Canon 5D Mark III with the Lensbaby composer on Sunday, July 7, 2013 in Hermosa Beach, Calif.

All in all, I enjoyed using the Lensbaby, for those who shoot less “news” and are looking for a different sort of effect, it could be an interesting tool – now with a lot more function and ability than the previous models that were much more fickle, I feel like I could actually control the outcome and performance of this new version with greater precision.

Lensbaby

Taken with a Canon 5D Mark III with the Lensbaby composer on Sunday, July 7, 2013 in Hermosa Beach, Calif.

Lensbaby

Sweet 35mm. Taken with a Canon 5D Mark III with the Lensbaby composer on Sunday, July 7, 2013 in Hermosa Beach, Calif.

Lensbaby

Sweet 35mm.Taken with a Canon 5D Mark III with the Lensbaby composer on Sunday, July 7, 2013 in Hermosa Beach, Calif.

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