Forgot Password
Pentax Camera Forums Home
 

Reply
Show Printable Version Search this Thread
02-06-2011, 07:07 AM   #1
Site Supporter
germar's Avatar

Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Austin Texas
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 728
Lens Baby - A Reality Check

I've seen Lens Baby kits reviewed, seen some examples and heard the growing hum about them on the forums....

Some folks really like them, and I've heard some users indicate that they've dedicated a camera body just for their lensbaby. Wow.

But I gotta tell you, I'm still scratching my head over this lens and what it can do, especially when Internet retailers have mid-to-high level kits going 250-350 USD.

It seems to me that nearly everything I've seen created in camera by a LB can be done in post processing with masks and blurs, and perhaps with greater control than what can be done with the lower end LBs.

Using these kits seem a pain, especially when changing the aperture disks appears to be very cumbersome.

The IQ of the areas NOT deformed by the LB seem to be mediocre at best; like you were shooting with a dimestore plastic camera. Perhaps that's the point, but I choke on the fact that the dimestore look will cost 350 dollars to obtain.

So ... I ask for a reality check from those who own or have owned one:



1. Is a Lens Baby a "use-it-once-a-year" type lens because of it's very specific intent and operation?

2. Is there some quality; some tangible thing that the LB gives you that can't be duplicated by a SMC M 50 f2 wide open and PP software?

3. If your current LB kit was lost or stolen, would you buy another?


I am not trying to slam this lens here in the forum; I'd like to have positive feedback that would convince me this lens kit is worth the time/trouble.

Thanks in advance for your opinions.

02-06-2011, 08:07 AM   #2
Veteran Member




Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Mount Joy, PA
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 533
Even though I've never owned a Lens Baby, I'll still throw in my two pennies.

Mostly from advertisements I've seen over the years, I've gotten the impression Lens Babies are meant to lend a certain amount of spontaneity to shooting. You have to bend and manipulate the lens to get the effect you want, and at times you must swap out the aperture washers. I think mostly the aperture point is what would kill it for me; the prospect of dropping and losing the aperture washers causes too much anxiety. I think a person who likes using prime lenses would be most comfortable with an LB because they would be used to the pace.

I hear what you're saying about using a normal prime and simply post-processing the results, and going a step further, I'm sure an LB image would still need additional processing anyway.

Again, I believe it all goes back to spontaneity. The photographer can immediately experiment, in the moment, with what they see in the viewfinder.

I remember when Lens Baby first came out. I can't remember what the exact MSRP was, but I want to say it was under $100 for an all plastic piece. Now they range from $200-$300 and are still mostly plastic optics!
02-06-2011, 08:34 AM   #3
Loyal Site Supporter
blackcloudbrew's Avatar

Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Cotati, California USA
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 3,816
I have one, the most expensive model (what they now call their 'control freak' version). When I first bought it, I used it a bit to get to understand it. I've used it from time to play with images. I'm still not that comfortable using it and find it difficult to get good predictable results from but given that what I wanted from it was Lomophotographic type results, it gives that and does it directly. I'd have to dig deep into my PP tools to imagine how to get similar results.

I think it is niche product that one uses for particular effects. To me it falls in the category of fisheye lenses, IR imagery, and long timed exposures. You do these sometimes for fun and particular effects. Is it worth the cost? I think so.
02-06-2011, 09:20 AM   #4
Site Supporter
twilhelm's Avatar

Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Florida
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 687
I have the Composer model with all the elements available at the time, Double glass, Single glass, Plastic and pinhole. I paid $270 for the kit new.
I really enjoy using the Lensbaby and if it were lost/stolen I would purchase it again. I've even used it during paid shoots for "special effects" and have to say it has gone over extremely well with the customers.

I'm sure you could do most if not all the effects in PS, but I prefer to spend my time shooting instead of sitting in front of a computer. The less editing time I have the happier I am. Plus I'm no PS guru...

Attached Images
 
View Picture EXIF
PENTAX K10D  Photo 
02-06-2011, 09:27 AM   #5
Site Supporter
Clinton's Avatar

Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: Salt Lake City, UT
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 1,826
One thing you'd have a really hard time doing in post is the creative aperture kit, where you drop in a star, heart, or something you create yourself into the aperture ring to create unique out of focus highlights.

For example:


Also the Pinhole/Zone-plate is something you wouldn't be able to create in post.

Mostly though, as Twilhelm says, it's about shooting creatively rather than mucking about in post.

I've got the composer and a bunch of the optics.

Last edited by Clinton; 02-06-2011 at 09:35 AM.
02-06-2011, 09:34 AM   #6
WJW
Veteran Member




Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Central Texas
Posts: 378
QuoteOriginally posted by germar Quote
But I gotta tell you, I'm still scratching my head over this lens and what it can do, especially when Internet retailers have mid-to-high level kits going 250-350 USD.

It seems to me that nearly everything I've seen created in camera by a LB can be done in post processing with masks and blurs, and perhaps with greater control than what can be done with the lower end LBs.
Must be something in the water in Texas because I have the exact same reaction. After seeing some shots here I looked through the gallery at the Lensbaby site. I thought I was looking through a Cokin catalog from the early 80's. What a horrible thought.

I can vaguely understand the Holga/Lomo crowd liking the LB since, as far as I known, there is not a true digital equivalent to those cameras. Even the cheapest P&S is sharper and gives more precise results. Then again, rubbing your finger around the front of a UV filter and attaching it would do the same thing. Plus, you can control the blur by using a cleaner finger or adding Vaseline as needed. The folks that use it to get a "sharp" center with surrounding blur really should look at the Cokin catalog. Just buy a couple of the Center/Oval/Offset spot filters and hold them in front of your lens. This would far more spontaneous than the LB since you can have a real lens or blurred vision as you want. And if you buy from ebay, a LOT cheaper.

If the filter idea bothers you, really look at the manual for whatever PP software you are using. The effects I've seen from the various LB products were either standard filters or easily reproducible in PS5 Or PS Elements for Mac (last versions of either I used) so I know most of the newer software should be able to handle this. And once again you would be starting with a sharper image if you are using a good lens.

Another problem may be that I'm getting old and turning in to a photo curmudgon. :-)
02-06-2011, 09:46 AM   #7
Loyal Site Supporter
blackcloudbrew's Avatar

Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Cotati, California USA
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 3,816
Ultimately it boils down to do you like it or not. I sense that it's not your thing so...move on.

I must say that the examples posted above are really excellent LB examples and those and this tread remind me that I need to get out and get creative with mine.
02-06-2011, 11:03 AM   #8
Site Supporter
germar's Avatar

Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Austin Texas
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 728
Original Poster
Clinton, I love the wedding shot with the heart-shaped light, now THAT is cool.

I guess some of what I'm hearing is that the "in-camera, right now" quality of the shooting experience is a big part of the Lensbaby positive. Why do it in post when you can see it in the viewfinder, right?

There's also a kind of organic, "shooting through a beer bottle" effect with some of these which I guess can also be a positive thing. I know there are some people who covet some really old, really bad lenses because of the strange textures and distortions the give to the image ... sure, it probably can be recreated in post, but if that's not your thing, then I can see why LB shooting can be attractive.

But it's looking like the LB falls into the once-a-year category of specialty lenses, doesn't it?

Thanks for all opinions so far.

02-06-2011, 11:37 AM   #9
WJW
Veteran Member




Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Central Texas
Posts: 378
QuoteOriginally posted by blackcloudbrew Quote
Ultimately it boils down to do you like it or not. I sense that it's not your thing so...move on.

I must say that the examples posted above are really excellent LB examples and those and this tread remind me that I need to get out and get creative with mine.
You are correct it isn't my thing, but the examples shown only reinforce my feelings about the practicality/value ratio of the lens. Both of the photos in the example, and most of the samples on the LB website, could be matched by smeared filters or the various Cokin special effects filters. The smeared filter would be very cheap and the Cokins used to go for almost nothing on ebay. The other option is the PP filters or masks. Once you have the basic PP set-up working, save it and reproduce it at will. This would add minimal extra PP time.

The Zone Plate and Pinhole effects are a different matter. To replicate them you would either need to buy pinhole/zone plate body caps OR convert your own. Having never done either or priced them lately, it may be cost effective to go with the LB product. The aperture kit is the one unique effect. The filters I have seen to do this are stars (4 to 16 points) or long ovals and that was the limit. I will have to say that I think the aperture kit would be great for doing ad shots or kiddy portrait shots, but otherwise of limited utility.

As for less expensive options, find a copy of the Kodak Workshop Series "Using Filters" (my copy is from 1981), buy a bunch of cheap UV filters, and have fun.
02-06-2011, 12:02 PM   #10
Site Supporter
twilhelm's Avatar

Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Florida
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 687
There is a lot of ways to get creative at much less of a cost. I've done a lot of them from various filters to vaseline, which was really the only way before we all had PS.
But I don't look at it as a waste of money. I mean, do I really need 4 different 50mm lenses? Or 3 different ways of achieving 300 + mm?
I enjoy using the system and it gives me a creative outlet. Of course if I only used it once a year I may reconsider having it.
02-06-2011, 12:36 PM   #11
Site Supporter
stevebrot's Avatar

Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Vancouver (USA)
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 27,503
QuoteOriginally posted by WJW Quote
I thought I was looking through a Cokin catalog from the early 80's.

ROFL!


Steve
02-06-2011, 06:03 PM   #12
Veteran Member
darrenleow's Avatar

Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Chicago
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 541


This is probably my favorite photo from my Lensbaby 2.0 so far, I doubt you can create the wild bokeh effects any other way.

That said though, I haven't used it in the last few months and I sold off a LB2.0 before but then bought another copy when the "once-a-year" itch came back. I'm not a huge fan of the other optics, since I like the razor sharp sweet spot of the double-glass, so I won't spend any more than what the LB2.0 cost me.
02-07-2011, 08:30 AM   #13
Site Supporter
Groucho's Avatar

Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Rochester, NY
Posts: 402
I purchased the Composer a little over a year ago. Financially - no, it certainly does not make sense, but then most lenses don't make financial sense! I haven't used the cheaper models but from what I've seen, I think the Composer is worth the extra cost over the cheap models; though maybe if you've on the fence it may make sense to get the <$100 cheap version first just to get a feel for the images. It can actually be compared to an F1.2 lens, IMHO, in that you'll probably get a lot more throwaways but when it works, it can give you a look that is difficult or impossible to match otherwise.

It is very specialized and has a strong learning curve. I've also found it especially hard to use when using an aftermarket focusing screen - especially the Jinfinance one I had in my K-7 for a while, where the off-center areas were a bit harder to see. I actually have had the best results with the stock screen in my K-5 for both the LensBaby and MF in general so I will probably stick with that for a while. One other thing that you may not think of immediately is that it's a full-frame lens - if you put it all the way the edge, the focus spot will probably be completely off the sensor. So, you have to be careful to move it not too far if you want to put the focus near an edge. Also, it's 50mm - which is a bit long on our APS sensors. I have considered picking up a fisheye lens for it to see how that looks in order to get a wider image, which I think would work well.

The best place for the LensBaby is probably on a tripod, where you can put the camera in LiveView and really see exactly what is happening and can take the time to get it just how you want it. Some tripod use at night is when I finally "made peace" with it. When handheld, I usually end up guessing a little at the focus and will bracket focus a little bit if I'm really not sure.

You could replicate some of the blurring in post-processing but some of my favorite LB shots are ones with points of light at the edges, it's the oblong ovals that would be really tricky to do later.

Would I buy it if it were stolen/broken? Probably but I wouldn't be in a mad rush. I do tend to not use it a ton because it's so specialized and because it's such a challenge to get good shots.

Here's a few shots I've taken with it at Disney World. Most are from the K-7, a couple are K-5 - I have a bunch more K-5 ones that I haven't processed yet.


























02-07-2011, 10:44 AM   #14
Pentaxian
reeftool's Avatar

Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Upstate New York
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 8,157
It is kind of like owning a fisheye, some people like them and some don't. If you don't think it will fit into your style of photography, then it probably won't. I love my DA 10-17. It is with me everywhere. I bought it in the marketplace from a guy who thought he could use it as a normal wide angle and found out he couldn't. If you like the effects and the creative possibilities, then a Lensbaby is a good deal.
02-07-2011, 10:49 AM   #15
Administrator
Site Webmaster
Adam's Avatar

Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Arizona
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 43,280
Have a look at our review: Lensbaby Composer Review | Third-party Lenses for Pentax | PentaxForums.com

Unless you're really into it...
Reply

Bookmarks
  • Submit Thread to Facebook Facebook
  • Submit Thread to Twitter Twitter
  • Submit Thread to Digg Digg
Tags - Make this thread easier to find by adding keywords to it!
baby, camera, k-mount, kit, kits, lb, lens, lens baby, pentax lens, reality, slr lens
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Pentax is playing with us? -- reality check, please close-enough Pentax News and Rumors 19 04-26-2009 05:07 PM
Baby photos from the Baby Vogue event codiac2600 Post Your Photos! 13 02-03-2009 05:26 PM
Reality Bites...Check this out! LaRee Digital Processing, Software, and Printing 14 09-29-2008 07:05 AM
Megapixel Reality Check! chrisman General Talk 0 03-15-2007 05:58 PM
Megapixel Reality Check! chrisman Photographic Technique 7 03-13-2007 08:30 PM



All times are GMT -7. The time now is 10:01 PM. | See also: NikonForums.com, CanonForums.com part of our network of photo forums!
  • Red (Default)
  • Green
  • Gray
  • Dark
  • Dark Yellow
  • Dark Blue
  • Old Red
  • Old Green
  • Old Gray
  • Dial-Up Style
Hello! It's great to see you back on the forum! Have you considered joining the community?
register
Creating a FREE ACCOUNT takes under a minute, removes ads, and lets you post! [Dismiss]
Top