chantal stone photography: the blog

July 6, 2006

Product Review: I Love My Lensbaby 2.0!

Filed under: News — chantal @ 12:12 pm

Photographers, both digital and traditional, are always looking for innovative ways to capture that perfect image. With all the different types of cameras, lenses and computer programs on the market, it seems the possibilities are endless. One of the many creative effects photographers sometimes like to create is to have certain area of an image in sharp focus, while other areas are softly blurred. This effect can be created with the use of shallow depth of field, with a diffusion filter, and with the lens called Lensbaby 2.0.

The Lensbaby 2.0, is a selective focus lens that allows for a sharp area of focus, or ‘sweet spot’, surrounded by a graduated blur. The lens is adjusted with a bellows-collar that manually moves in and out to focus in on the subject, while at the same time creates the soft blurred effect in the surrounding areas.

Photographer Craig Strong, creator of the Lensbaby, and updated Lensbaby 2.0, was looking for a digital replacement for his beloved Holga camera. The clever combination of an old-fashioned bellows camera and a tilt-shift lens, this incarnation can create images that were once thought to be only made through the use of Photoshop. Compatible with most film SLR and DSLR Nikon F-mount or Canon EF-mount cameras, even older model 35mm SLRs with screw mount, the Lensbaby 2.0 is available for everyone.

What sets this lens apart is it gives the photographer greater control over creativity. The same scene can be shot many times, all with different effects. Just a simple tilt of the bellows with the tip of the finger, and the sweet spot can be altered, the blur can be increased, or decreased, highlights can be created, or a simple, subtle glow can enhance a scene.

The distorted effects of your images can also be controlled by varying the use of the aperture disks that come with both the Lensbaby and Lensbaby 2.0. The improved Lensbaby 2.0 when used with no aperture disk shoots at f/2.0, while the other disks range from f/2.8 up to f/8.0. The larger the disk, the more diffused the image will be; the smaller the disk, the sharper the image becomes.

I shoot primarily with a Nikon N90, and found the Lensbaby 2.0 to be a wonderful addition to my camera bag. I sometimes shoot with a Holga camera, and I love the soft focus and vignetting that a Holga camera can create. The Lensbaby 2.0 can create the same effect, but with more control. I can put the sweet spot exactly where I want it, and also control how distorted and blurred the surrounding areas are.

I’ve been shooting for years, and shallow depth of field and creative focusing have always fascinated me. Now, with my Lensbaby 2.0, I find myself thinking differently, more creatively, and always looking for the next Lensbaby shot to add to my portfolio. The addictive Lensbaby 2.0 adds a whole new dimension to photography by allowing the photographer to “paint” and picture and create an image that is truly unique.

Accessories can be used to enrich the use of the Lensbaby 2.0. Availble at the Lensbabies website is a Macro kit, including +4 and +10 lenses which screw on to the ens of your Lensbaby. There is also a Digital Optics .45X conversion lens, which converts the Lensbaby into approximately a 22mm true focal length and includes a macro focus mode It can increase the amount of blurring around the sweet spot, while decreasing the sharply focused area. Modestly priced, and easy to use, these accessories can add to the fun and enjoyment of shooting with the Lensbaby 2.0.

Whether you shoot film or digital, the Lensbaby 2.0 is a must-have addition to every photographer’s camera bag. It was specifically created with the artist in mind, the photographer who desires to create an image in the camera, and who can not be restrained by the limits of traditional lenses.


• Focus Type: Manual
• Focal Length: approximately 50 mm
• Aperture Type: interchangeable aperture disks
• Aperture: f/2.0, f/2.8, f/4, f/5.6, f/8
• Minimum Focus: about 12”
• Maximum Focus: infinity
• Size/Weight: 2.25″ high x 2.5″ wide / 3.7 oz.
• Coated Optical Glass Doublet
• Note: a Lensbaby does not communicate electronically with your camera body
(for AF cameras, it’s recommended to shoot in Aperture priority mode)


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