I am so excited I can hardly stand it.
I have been a HUGE fan of Amelia Lyon the minute I set my eyes on her work. It’s fun. It’s playful. It’s colorful. Pure art. I love how creative and free she is with her images and, most likely, one of the items in her arsenal is a tilt-shift lens. As I am just starting out, the thought of spending $2k on a creative lens when I still needed so many of the basics made me anxious … and so it was suggested to me that I look into the Lensbaby for a more affordable alternative. I had seen this name thrown around the photography world (blogs, sites, etc.), but I didn’t know what it was. So I looked into it and was immediately hooked.
I purchased the Composer Pro lens body that ships with the Sweet 35 optical lens, as well as the Edge 80 optical lens. First, realize that these are manual focus lenses. The Composer Pro has a swivel ball and focus mechanism and tilts up to 17.5 degrees. The Sweet 35 is a 35mm selective focus optic with adjustable aperture (from f/2.5 to f/22) that creates a tack sharp ‘sweet spot’ of focus surrounded by blur.
It took me a few attempts to find the sweet spot for this lens, which when I was reading the reviews, was the main critique of the LB lenses (I can use that acronym now that I’m ONE of them). However, with practice, I am sure I will get the feel for the swivel lens body, as well as the manual focus.
Here is another example of finding the sweet spot. I was attempting to focus on ‘Columbus Circle’. As you can see the Cs of Columbus, Circle and Chelsea are in focus, and then the blur begins to occur with my setting of f/2.8. Btw, isn’t my HUGE New York canvas wall art fantastic? It’s seriously 6’x8′. HINT. Bigger is better.
Then there is the Edge 80, which was my reason for purchasing the Lensbaby. :) The Edge 80 is an 80mm flat field of focus optic that delivers a slice of sharp focus through the image (from f/2.8 to f/22), bordered by a soft blur.
When pointed straight ahead, the Edge 80 can be used like a straight lens: everything on the same plane will be in focus. Tilt it left or right and you’ll get a vertical line. Tilt it up or down and your line will be horizontal. Tilt it diagonally and … you guessed it. A diagonal slice through your image. This is a shot of the tree outside my balcony, shot with an aperture of f/2.8.
I absolutely cannot wait to use this at my family && sweet 16 seshes next weekend. It will add an entirely new dynamic to my images and I’m excited to see where this takes me. In short, I’m loving this more affordable option. As I mentioned, a t/s lens can cost upwards of $2k. The Composer Pro + Sweet 35 was $400 and the Edge 80 was $300. Don’t get me wrong, $700 is still a lot of money. But I was able to get two optical lenses that have two completely different creative effects for well under what I would have spent for a quality t/s.
I’ll wrap this up by saying I was stalking the LB fb page and found Holli True had tagged LB in some of her images. Holli is an incredible senior photog out of Oregon who is also super, super sweet (don’t you just expect people from Oregon to be nice anyway? It just screams polite to me.). I immediately ‘liked’ her biz fb page and introduced myself, letting her know I found her via LB, that I LOVE her work and how I had just made my purchases. Her response was so positive, I want to share:
Hi Kristin! Thank you so, so much! I am so thrilled to hear you found me through Lensbaby- I just love them!! :) You will love your setup- you have the best of both worlds with the Sweet 35 & Edge 80! If you haven’t used a LB before, just know that it takes a little getting used to and take lots of extra pictures to ensure you get your focus exactly where you want it to be. I focus and recompose my shots all of the time to make sure that the sweet spot is just right! :) Have fun!!!
I very well intend to. xo