Lensbaby has announced its latest uber-creative, ultra-crazy product: the Lensbaby Obscura, a three-in-one pinhole, soft focus and extreme bokeh lens with a maximum aperture of f/161.
The Lensbaby Obscura comes as a 50mm DSLR lens or 50mm Lensbaby Optic, both with f/32, f/64 and f/161 apertures to deliver the trio of different effects, along with a 16mm mirrorless body cap lens with f/22, f/45 and f/90 apertures to achieve the same purpose.
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So, what is the Obscura? Well, Lensbaby itself isn't very helpful in explaining that: "Lensbaby Obscura isn’t a lens, Obscura is an extraordinary experience crafted in the origins of photography.
"… Lensbaby Obscura envelopes photographer and lens in an elegant dance between light and dark while bringing unique flare and image artifacts that aren’t possible to achieve in-camera with any standard camera lens."
Thankfully, Lensbaby ambassador Jen Strongin has a more coherent explanation.
Of the Zone Plate (soft focus) setting, she says:
"This setting gives you this beautiful glow across the frame with some sharpness underneath, and when you shoot into the light, or you're shooting things that reflect light, you get these really crazy beautiful flares and artifacts that really show that shape with that circle with the concentric rings around it."
On the Sieve Plate (bokeh) setting:
"This one gives you a little more detail, although you still have some of that glow, and this one is like the Swiss cheese setting where you have a center hole, and then lots of little holes around it. And this also creates some really unique flare and artifacts when you're shooting into light or shooting things that reflect light, and it just creates these really starry looking artifacts."
And finally, on the Pinhole setting:
"It gives you a lot more detail across the entire frame than the other two settings, and I find that f/90 really creates these beautiful vintage looking images, that I love."
The two lenses appear to be 'dumb', with no electrical contacts, and there's no focal ring to focus it – which is unsurprising, given the extreme apertures. When you're shooting between f/22 and f/161, pretty much everything is going to be in focus!
Here are the three versions of the optic:
Lensbaby Obscura 50 (DSLR)
Lensbaby Obscura Optic
Lensbaby Obscura 16 (mirrorless)
The Lensbaby Obscura 50 (opens in new tab) comes in Canon EF and Nikon F mounts and is available for $279.95 (approximately £201.18 / AU$372.54), while the Lensbaby Obscura 16 (opens in new tab) comes in Canon RF, Sony E, Nikon Z, Fuji X, Micro Four Thirds and L-mount options for $249.95 (£179.62 / AU$332.65). The Lensbaby Obscura Optic (opens in new tab), compatible with all Lensbaby Optic products, costs $179.95 (£129.31 / AU$239.48).
Swipe through the gallery below to see how the three settings affect images – and to decide whether this really is Lensbaby's wackiest lens ever!
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