The latest junior member of the Lensbaby family, the Muse is perhaps the most tempting option for those looking to experiment with the concept of ‘fun’ lenses – it now falls into the budget price bracket.
Its compatibility with Lensbaby’s Optic Swap System means it should be viewed less as a lens with a specific effect and more as a means to a variety of styles to suit an array of subjects.
Currently, the Optic Swap stable comprises eight lenses, one of which is the Double Glass (£60, $90) that ships with the Muse. Other options include a Pinhole/Zone Plate (£25, $40) as well as Fisheye (£100, $150) and Soft Focus (£60, $90) models. The more refined Edge 80 lens costs about £280 ($300).
Those new to the Lensbaby system will need to get accustomed to holding their camera in an unorthodox fashion, with thumbs at the rear of the body and index and middle fingers over the front of the Muse. This allows the lens to be adjusted across its optical axis, achieving focus.
It’s then shifted at an angle relative to the sensor, to get blur around the ‘Sweet Spot’. It doesn’t take long to get used to this way of working, although there’s no way of fixing the lens in the desired position, so care needs to be taken to keep the camera and lens stable prior to exposure.
The Muse comes with a selection of aperture discs, which are easily (if tediously) changed with a magnetic rod. This might irk those who are used to electromagnetic diaphragm operation, but sticking to a wide to medium aperture disc is fine for many situations.
As for its effects, with a little practice it’s easy to get reasonable sharpness at the sweet spot, and a pleasing motion blur around it.
PRICE: £90, $150