Field Test: Lensbaby 3G
Lensbaby's newest version locks into place, providing more control over those far-out selective focus and depth of field effects.
Be prepared for curious stares and lots of questions when you’re out shooting with the the just-announced Lensbaby 3G. This is far and away the weirdest looking contraption to mount on the front of a camera in a quite a long time.
The Lensbaby 3G looks like a Lensbaby 2.0 that took an unexpected detour to Frankenstein’s Lab. The 3G can be locked into position and even fine focused via those bolty knobby jobbers.
This is a different breed of Lensbaby — the original and Lensbaby 2.0 have a certain spontaneity with the simple springy bellows. This is both the strength and weakness of the original design — it is tough to get exactly repeatable results, but it is quick and responsive to the touch for on-the-fly shooting.
|Galleries >****Product Shots >****Image Quality Shots >****Distortion Samples|
It is also a different shooting experience with the 3G; it takes some practice to adjust to pushing, pulling and bending around the boltyknobs before locking in your settings. It is more methodical, less spontaneous, but best of all, repeatable.
You can lock the LB3G into position and experiment with deeper and shallower depth of field for a product shot. The fine focus adjustment allows you to shift the sweet spot’s sharp focus location ever-so-slightly from the front of a bouquet of roses, to a petal towards the back with just a slight spin.
You can position a model in the studio and experiment with lighting ratios, knowing that the focus of the LB3G will be exactly where you left it.
Long exposures of flowing water and night scenery with shutter speeds longer than a fraction of a second are now possible, without worrying about having to hold the LB perfectly still all the while to keep it sharp.
It’s a different breed of Lensbaby, but the 3G is a Lensbaby nonetheless. Just for fun, we attempted to analyze the distortion of the Lensbaby 3G using DxO 2.0, and the results were off the chart! (We’ve included several DxO dot-pattern target shots, to give the reader an idea of some of the distortions possible with the 3G.)
The Lensbaby 3G is compatible with the company’s adapter lenses announced last week. We did notice some edge vignetting with the 0.6 Wide Angle/Macro Lens at maximum aperture at really bent positions in our field tests.
It should be pointed out that the 3G is not a replacement for the 2.0, but rather an addition to the lineup for those who crave a bit more control over their Lensbaby photos. The Lensbaby 3G has a suggested retail price of $270, is available in Canon EF, Nikon F, Olympus 4/3rds/Panasonic, Pentax K/Samsung, and Sony Alpha/Minolta Maxxum mounts, and should be available in mid-October.
Lensbabies Launches Lensbaby 3G
3rd Generation Selective Focus SLR Lens Locks in Bent Position, Allows Precision Focusing
Cologne, Germany; Photokina Hall 5.2, Booth D028 (September 26, 2006) – Today Lensbabies, LLC launched its 3rd generation selective focus Single Lens-Reflex (SLR) lens, Lensbaby 3G?, introducing new features that dramatically expand the Lensbaby product family’s capabilities.
The Lensbaby 3G SLR lens allows photographers to lock the Lensbaby in a desired bent position simply by pressing a button. Then, using a traditional barrel focus mechanism, photographers can do fine focusing and precisely place the sweet spot of sharp focus before pressing the shutter release. The Original Lensbaby? lens and the Lensbaby 2.0? lens require the photographer to manually hold the Lensbaby in a bent position while pressing the shutter release.
|| |—| | Galleries > Product Shots > Image Quality Shots > Distortion Samples | Lensbaby selective focus SLR camera lenses take photos with one area in sharp focus, with that ‘sweet spot’ surrounded by graduated blur. Photographers can move the sweet spot of sharp focus anywhere in the photo by bending the flexible lens tubing.
“Response to the Original Lensbaby and Lensbaby 2.0 has been great,” said Craig Strong, the inventor of the Lensbaby and Co-Founder of Lensbabies, LLC. “But we asked our customers what new features they wanted. Studio photographers told us they want to repeat Lensbaby photos exactly the same each time, whether they are shooting food, fine art nudes, or Chanel shoes. Studio portrait photographers told us they want greater confidence in the sweet spot’s sharpness and placement. Outdoor and location photographers said they are interested in shooting longer exposures than are possible with the Original Lensbaby and Lensbaby 2.0.”
Lensbaby 3G features the same low dispersion, high refractive index, multi-coated optical glass doublet and the same flexible tubing as Lensbaby 2.0, but adds three focusing rails that emerge from the camera mount and pass through the focusing collar. A trigger button on the focusing collar releases three pins that engage the focusing rails and lock Lensbaby 3G in a bent position.
“The process of shooting with Lensbaby 3G is quite different than with Lensbaby 2.0, and the two lenses are optimized for different types of photography. While Lensbaby 2.0 is great for intuitive, fluid, photojournalistic shots, Lensbaby 3G is a workhorse for pros that require precise focusing, complete control, and repeatability,” said Strong.
Once Lensbaby 3G is locked into 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. Also, in the locked position, a photographer can make small adjustments to the placement of the sweet spot of focus by turning any combination of the three focusing rails.
“We think Lensbaby 3G is the logical next step in the evolution of selective focus photography, allowing complete control and repeatability,” said Strong. “We hope Lensbaby 3G will meet photographers’ needs for precision while stimulating their creative vision.”
Lensbaby 3G SLR lenses will be available starting in mid-October from www.Lensbabies.com, by calling 877-536-7222 / 971-223-5662, and from select specialty photo stores. Lensbaby 3G is initially available in mounts for Canon EF and Nikon F camera bodies. Versions of the Lensbaby 3G for Olympus 4/3rds/Panasonic, Pentax K/Samsung GX, and Sony Alpha/Minolta Maxxum digital and film SLR camera bodies are scheduled to ship in mid-November. Optional accessories include the Lensbaby Macro Kit™. Photographers can also mount a variety of 37mm threaded accessories, such as wide angle and telephoto conversion lenses, onto the front of their Lensbaby.
Lensbaby 3G Specifications:
Optic: Coated optical glass doublet (same optic as Lensbaby 2.0)
Focal Length: Approximately 50 mm
Focus Type: Hybrid Manual Compression / Manual barrel
Aperture Type: Interchangeable levitating aperture disks
Apertures: f/2, f/2.8, f/4, f/5.6, f/8, f/11, f/16, f/22
Minimum Focus: Approximately 12″ (30.48cm)
Maximum Focus: Infinity
Size: 3″ (7.62cm) high x 3.25″ (8.89cm) wide
Weight: 5.7oz (161.59g)
Available Mounts: Canon EF, Nikon F, Olympus 4/3rds/Panasonic, Pentax K/Samsung, Sony Alpha/Minolta Maxxum
Note: A Lensbaby does not communicate electronically with the camera body.
Lensbabies, LLC is a Portland, Oregon based manufacturer and marketer of award-winning
selective focus SLR camera lenses. Lensbabies was launched in February 2004 by Craig Strong, a professional photographer and the inventor of the patent pending Lensbaby selective focus SLR lens. Lensbabies sells to photographers all over the world through its website, www.lensbabies.com, at tradeshows, and through specialty photographic equipment retailers.