September 19, 2012

Lensbaby Spark Mini Review

I have always been fascinated with the Lensbaby concept. There’s nothing like it. It’s a totally, truly unique and original product. I have the luxury of knowing Craig Strong – the product’s inventor. He’s a real photographer who came up with this idea not to become rich, but to improve photography. I think he may have ended up achieving both but either way, if you’ve never seen a Lensbaby now is the time to try one. There are some people who think you can accomplish similar effects in post – but in my opinion the Lensbaby line is about SEEING not fixing.

When I have a Lensbaby mounted to my camera I see things I wouldn’t with a regular lens. That spurs creative ideas and cool photos ensue. I really think that’s what’s behind the company’s motto “See in a whole new way.”

To make the entire Lensbaby concept more accessible to all photographers, the company has just released the Lensbaby Spark. I’ve had one now for about three weeks (testing it before the launch) and it may be my favorite Lensbaby yet due to its low – cost, ease-of-use and versatility.  It’s an $80 lens that is manual focus and designed to appeal to enthusiasts.

It’s 50mm focal length features a fixed f/5.6 aperture. It has a multi-coated glass doublet and offers the usual Lensbaby “sweet spot” which allows for selective focus surrounded by blur.

The Spark is available for Nikon and Canon and is completely compatible with the entire Lensbaby Optic Swap System which adds flexibility.

“Spark sprouted from Lensbaby’s fun and creative roots,” said Craig Strong, Lensbaby Chief Creative Officer and Co-Founder. “We crafted Spark for photographers who look to go beyond their predictable kit lens and experiment with visual spontaneity in-camera.”

While there are more sophisticated Lensbaby lenses available – and I own them all – this is the one I”ve had in my bag on every shoot for the last three weeks. And it’s a keeper.

The lens is easy to use. Set your camera to manual. Set your ISO to 200 on a sunny day, 400 on a cloudy day and 1600 at night. Your starting shutter speed for each ISO should be in the neighborhood of 1/500th, 1/250th or 1/60th respectively. To focus you simply squeeze the lens like an accordion and things come into focus. The further away the subject, the more you have to squeeze.

I think this product is aptly named. It will SPARK your creativity.

Highly recommended.

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