all fisheye

Published on April 10th, 2012 | by Greg


New Lensbabies! Scout + Fisheye And Edge 80

It’s wild the dif­fer­ence an op­tic can make. Case in point: the two pho­tos at­tached to this ar­ti­cle (un­re­touched, click to see full size) are tak­en from the same spot. And nei­ther of them is tech­ni­cal­ly a zoom lens. We’ve got two of the lat­est in­ter­est­ing prod­ucts on hand, from one of our fa­vorite lens­mak­ers- and their prod­ucts are avail­able for just about any of the ma­jor cam­era sys­tem, so you have no ex­cuse. We’re stuck on our Nikon (typ­i­cal­ly us­ing a D7000 for in house pho­tog­ra­phy), but our folks in Hawaii stand by Canon, and some of our folks use Sony DSLRs. They’ve even start­ed mak­ing lens­es specif­i­cal­ly aimed at cin­e­matog­ra­phers and film­mak­ers.

Lens­ba­bies are the mag­ic word for in­ter­est­ing spe­cif­ic-ef­fect spe­cial-use lens­es. You’ll need a mount first- we’ve tried most all of them, from the orig­i­nal Com­pos­er to the Com­pos­er Pro, both of which of­fer their unique tilt func­tion, where you can lit­er­al­ly shift the lens in any di­rec­tion to give por­tions of an im­age a blurred ef­fect. Their Con­trol Freak took the idea and al­lowed you to pin­point a spe­cif­ic an­gle for ac­cu­rate recre­ation. And the Muse took things in a fast, loose di­rec­tion, cheap­er and faster than the oth­ers. Their lat­est mount is the Lens­ba­by Scout- which no longer of­fers any shift­ing ad­just­ments, and thus is a more lim­it­ed ver­sion of the sys­tem. It doesn’t work as well with spe­cif­ic op­tics- for in­stance, the new op­tic we men­tion be­low wasn’t all that in­ter­est­ing to use with the Scout. But throw in a Fish­eye op­tic, and in­stead of try­ing to blend two ef­fects (a tilt-shift and a fish­eye), you can fo­cus on the ex­pand­ed frame in­stead and avoid los­ing part of the im­age (which hap­pened of­ten when us­ing one of the oth­er mounts).

One of the se­crets be­hind the Lens­ba­by sys­tem is the in­ter­change­able op­tics, al­lud­ed to above. You can swap them in and out, via a sys­tem that is a bit tricky the first time but gets eas­i­er. We took the fish­eye im­age us­ing the Scout mount, which is in­stalled by de­fault- but you can eas­i­ly pur­chase oth­er op­tics, like the Sweet 35 that we tried out and loved late last year, and might still be our fa­vorite op­tion. And you can, of course, take the Fish­eye op­tic out of the Scout and use it in oth­er mounts, if you want to up­grade to a dif­fer­ent kind at any point. The Scout felt light and well-made, and al­lowed a very wide range of fo­cal lengths- you can use this pair as an awe­some macro sys­tem, get­ting right in­to a sub­ject on­ly a half-inch away and still keep­ing it sharp.

Of course, as we’ve men­tioned in the past, these aren’t elec­tron­ic sys­tems- there’s no aut­o­fo­cus ca­pa­bil­i­ty, and you’ll have to set your cam­era to man­u­al fo­cus for them to work. You’ll al­so need to be com­fort­able ad­just­ing your F-stop and shut­ter speed on the fly, since us­ing these means that the cam­era can­not de­tect and ad­just those set­tings ei­ther. And make sure you buy the right type of mount to fit your cam­era! At $250 for the pair, it felt a lit­tle pricey com­pared to the oth­er mount­ing op­tions (which run from $150 to over $400, de­pend­ing on op­tions). But a lot of the val­ue is in the Fish­eye op­tic, which is nor­mal­ly $150 by it­self. The Scout is apt­ly named: light, fast, and quick, and an in­ter­est­ing ex­pan­sion to the wide range of Lens­ba­bies, now of­fer­ing some­thing for just about ev­ery pur­pose.

Speak­ing of which, we did have a bit more trou­ble find­ing a per­fect use for the Edge 80 op­tic. We pri­mar­i­ly used the Com­pos­er Pro, and at first, were a bit con­fused. Im­ages look fair­ly flat, where we are used to pret­ty ob­vi­ous and strong ef­fects. In our im­age, you’ll note the blurred ef­fect- but that’s due to us tilt­ing the mount; by de­fault the Edge 80 is ba­si­cal­ly a straight lens. Cer­tain­ly, you’ll quick­ly see a soft fo­cus along the edges, a nice and sub­tle ef­fect that you can move around a bit.

Al­so, a big ad­van­tage here is the built-in ad­justable aper­ture. Most Lens­ba­by op­tics and mounts re­quire the un­usu­al and slight­ly awk­ward set of small discs that you can pull out of an op­tic with a mag­net- but we usu­al­ly just found workarounds and al­most nev­er changed the F-stop, since it was a lit­tle fussy (and we pre­fer to leave the lit­tle discs at home). Get­ting the 12-blade ad­justable aper­ture in the small Lens­ba­by had to be a chal­lenge, and we ap­pre­ci­at­ed the works­man­ship. It was one less thing to wor­ry about, but the lens it­self didn’t lend it­self to as many cre­ative pos­si­bil­i­ties as oth­ers. Con­sid­er­ing the ex­pense- $300 is quite a bit of dough- we on­ly sug­gest this one if you’re al­ready a Lens­ba­by lover, and find your­self in sit­u­a­tions where chang­ing the aper­ture on the fly is crit­i­cal.

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About the Author

Greg dreamed up the idea for the Truly Network while living in Hawaii, which began with a single site called TrulyObscure. In 2010, when advertisers and readers were requesting coverage beyond the scope of that site, TrulyNet was launched, reaching a broader audience over a variety of niche sites. Formerly the head technology correspondent for the Des Moines Register at age 16, he has since lived and worked in five states and two countries, helping a list of organizations and companies that includes the United States Census Bureau, TripAdvisor, Events Photo Group, Berlitz, and Computer Geeks. He also served as the Content Strategy Manager for HearPlanet, a multi-platform app that has reached over a million users and has been featured in the New York Times, Hemispheres Magazine, National Geographic Adventure, Fox Business News, PC Magazine, and even Apple’s own iPhone ads. Greg has written as a restaurant critic and feature journalist for a number of national and international publications, including City Weekend Magazine, Red Egg Magazine, the Newton Daily News, Capital Change Magazine, and an arm of China Daily, Beijing Weekend. In addition, he has served as a consulting editor for the Foreign Language Press of Beijing, as well as a writer and editor for the George Washington University Hatchet, the school newspaper of his alma mater. Originally from Iowa, Greg is currently living in the West Village of Manhattan.

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