Call me boring but I just don’t like the Lensbaby filters (or the lenses, for that matter). I don’t think I’ve ever seen a photo taken with either and thought, “Wow, that’s breathtaking.” In fact, more often than not, images look overly out of focus and unprofessional, and I’m honestly still confused by who buys them.
For the uninitiated, Lensbaby lenses and filters are designed to create unique and often surreal photographic effects. These effects range from selective focus to swirls, warps, and dreamlike blurs, depending on which lens you’re using. The Double Glass II for example creates a tilt-shift effect while the Lens Baby Velvet 28 offers soft focus and macro photography.
• What do YOU think of the best Lensbaby lenses?
Lensbaby products are designed to add “a new dimension to your artistry” and enable photographers to deliver a fresh perspective but, for me, the appeal of Lensbaby lenses and filters wears off fast and leads to photographs that look more gimmicky than artistic.
The latest addition to the Lensbaby family is the Omni Universal Collection, with wands. It includes 11 reflective inserts, 8 inserts that change the shape of your bokeh, plus 2 bonus wands that create a prism effect. At $249 it's a lot of money for a kit that would get boring quickly and won’t help you create professional-looking images.
It seems to me that, if you want to get creative with your photography, there are lots of ways you can do so with simple items you can find in your house or pick up cheaply in a craft store.
As a portrait photographer, I am always looking for ways to push myself to think outside the box, work with new materials and try new techniques. I love using anything from fabric and flowers to an old pantyhose over the lens, or even Vaseline smeared across a standard UV filter as a way of adding something a bit different to my portraits. I also own a prism, but I rarely use it – while it does add a cool effect (especially when it comes to gig photography), it can be overdone.
One of the reasons I have no time for Lensbaby products is because I feel like most of the effects can easily be done in Photoshop without buying extra equipment. Unless you have a serious hatred for editing, or prefer to do everything in-camera, it wouldn’t take you long to blur a background, add some lens flare or create a double-exposure image in your favorite photo editing software.
Perhaps one of the reasons I’m finding it so hard to get excited about Lensbaby’s latest release is down to the fact the accompanying promo videos are really uninspiring. Not to say that either of the photographers featured are bad, but the images they produce don’t inspire me and the videos are unnecessarily long.
I should declare that I don’t have a lot of experience using Lensbaby products. I’ve previously shot with the Sol 45 portrait lens, and had a go at using some of the Omni wands, but I’ve seen hundreds of images created with Lensbaby products and none of them have blown me away.
I can’t help but feel like Lensbaby is a bit of a cop-out when it comes to creativity, as it basically does it for you and charges you a lot!