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Tuesday, 10 March 2009


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This is one gadget that I've never been tempted to try. How often would one actually use something like this? On the relatively rare occasions when this type of effect is desired, it can be duplicated without too much difficulty in most image editors.

Joe, I would love to view your website, but your use of Flash and/or Java makes it painfully slow (yes, there are still dialup users out there). If I don't see anything within 15 to 20 seconds, I'm gone!

I've been intrigued by lensbabies (and by Mark Tuckers "plunger cam" photos). I've tried them at a couple of shows (I remember the first one, showed up with my Minolta 7D ... the rep had none in Maxxum mount of course, so he said I could try his "and that way you get to try a Nikon, too"). Thanks for the favor :) (I think it was a D70). I did buy a Holga lens adapted to Maxxum mount (holgamods.com) and it was fun to try but doesn't suit me. I have a few keepers I took with it, but out of all the lensbaby shots I see, there's a small percentage I think really work. Most shots (esp. Tom Bols western landscapes), my reaction is: ok, but would be better "straight".

Nice review, Joe. I, too, have toyed with these LensBabies for several years, most recently with the Composer. Your observations are mostly congruent with mine. I think that the Composer is certainly the easiest and quickest model of the series. It's hard to go back to the 3G after toying with the ball-and-socket design of the Composer.

I've only one image online taken with a LensBaby: http://www.pbase.com/tanakak/image/55009692

While I've enjoyed tinkering with these lenses I am far too stingy with my adjectives to use the word "great" in reference to them. "Fun", sometimes "handy", is about as far as I'd go. These are quite expensive for what they offer and for their optical performance. Rather like a strongly-opinionated lout, a little LensBaby usage goes a long, long way.

I generally much prefer to use one of my tilt-shift lenses to create selective focus images. Yes, they're far more costly. But the optics are much better, the lenses are much more versatile, and the precise tilt movements create a far better spacial distortion.

For example: http://www.pbase.com/tanakak/image/72286135

John - with some serious Photoshop work you may be able to get close to the Lensbaby look, but convincingly replicating this style of imagery in post is harder than most people think. And more time behind the computer I don't need!

Scott - the website platform isn't the culprit, what you're waiting for is the images to load. The image and file sizes are optimized to a reasonable baseline for most web users.

Dennis - the Mark Tucker's plunger cam is very cool, and both Tucker and Keith Carter are photographers who successfully use the blurry aesthetic to make beautiful, mysterious photos.

Ken - I hear you - making successful Lensbaby images can be challenging because it's easy for the effect to overwhelm the content of the image. I find these constraints are a fun exercise that I can come back to over and over again, but it's not for everyone. Fast aperture and tilt-shift are two other great ways to play with focus/blur -- judging from the great shot of the Bean linked above, tilt-shift is working well for you!



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