We introduce you to the Lensbaby concept, and discuss what you can achieve using one. Oh, and a little about the optics as well…
Lensbabys have really quickly caught the attention of the creative photographers looking to try new in-camera techniques to enhance their photography. This gadget is a comparatively affordable option to the precise optics of tilt-shift lenses while offering a somewhat similar creative experience if not as precise. It basically poses as a rubber tubing between the lens and camera body to be able to tilt and shift free hand as per your creative and spontaneous preference.
Some could even argue that the Lensbaby design relies so much more on the photographer’s feel and touch and technique, it could be a welcome change towards putting in more of a personal touch into your images in a day where literally everything around us seems to be channeling themselves to a ‘one size fits all’, plug and play kind of environment.
And then Lensbabys are more than just rubber tubing between the camera body and a ‘normal’ lens; they are complete lenses with their own optics and attachments. The attachments such as the ‘soft focus’ can be removed and interchanged between Lensbaby lens housings. The Lensbaby brand has released lenses for all of the top camera mounts and they are freely available all over the world. Check out some of the images from a Lensbaby before you decide to buy one, so you know what to expect.
What you can achieve?
Well, there’s a little bit of physics and optics to that. The depth of field of a lens extends itself behind the lens where the sensor is located in what is called the ‘depth of focus’. The depth of focus behaves very much like the depth of field but in a much more sensitive and shallower distance range. One small change in the position of a filter can have a tremendous effect on the focus.
Similarly, a change in the angle of the lens too can and does have a significant impact on the depth of focus…it changes the in-focus and out of focus areas dramatically by altering the ‘plane of focus’. So, with a lensbaby mounted on your camera, you can simply swing and tilt it any direction you wish to, to have a tremendous effect on the depth of field created by the lens – because you are changing the area where the depth of focus falls in relation to the sensor!
If you do not wish to understand this, well it really doesn’t matter a whole lot until you decide to use a view camera, where all of this (and more) comes into play. And we promise you, using a lens baby is a lot more fun than understanding the optics behind it. But it is also true that the better you understand what makes it tick, the more will you be able to open up creative options for yourself!