Journal: Lensbaby 2.0

March 05, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

Let's talk about vintage lensbaby. I am going to explore more about them since I just reinvested in the system again. 


Lensbaby lenses create their own sort of photography. At least, that's the company's mission statement.  Technically, you can do this in photoshop. The question is, do you want to take those extra steps. Do you get the resullts via post processing or does that silly little piece of plastic have some tricks up its crazy sleeve?


In order to get into a lesbsaby frame of mind, I would say that the best place to start that exploration is with an original. That's not to say that you would want to run out and buy the original, but that is also a consideration I would not readily dismiss if the current used price comes down. 


Back in the earlier days, buying a lensbaby and putting it on your camera was a bit of a disappointment. There was no digital information coming through to the back of the camera and it has no auto focus. This "drawback" has not changed.


We might conclude that from the mission statement of lensbaby that a world of creativity opens up to you straight out of the camera. It is certainly true that you can achieve many different results.


How could a little piece of plastic on a floppy/stretchy bellows do much? Can it do anything? Were we sucked into a hype? The company  continually manufactures more and more gimmicks at even higher prices. Lensbaby used to be $99 and now you're not going to get to the checkout for anything less than two or three hundred for a basic lens. By the time you have become drunk on youtubes, you might consider just about everything in excess of a thousand dollars.  God bless those covid stimulus checks. After being locked up for a year, a good sailor with a destination could use a good stimulus.... Be care, tread small, think back to Lensbaby 2.0 which was not their first issue, but so damn close.


The quick and easy assumption is that lensbaby 2.0 doesn't do much and that's why it was so cheap. Turn your computer off for a minute and take a "youtube" break just for now. Let's think about the lensbaby system and its genesis because on the low wrung, you can get in with a similar lens to the lensbaby 2.0 or you can spend your check on something more.


The only way you could focus  the LB2.0  was no better than trying to plunge a stopped up toilet and to shift things around at the same time, things that wanted to spring back into place after you moved things around. Very often, this cheap little lens didn't do what was intended. That is, unless you changed your plunging technique, but only if that dawned upon you. Nobody helps you out of a stopped up toiled scenario. There are many images on the interent/youtube showing you potential, but you still have to get up on your feet and make it across the deck of your sailing vessel headed for the new world.

Be prepared. It takes time to figure it out.


Once that I felt that I had some control over that wobbly little thing, I figured something more would be something better. Afterall, when you invest in "the line," the next thing must be better.  I graduated to a different version, one that locked down. Yet, these extras didn't do quite as much as the simpler version. The lensbaby 2.0 had more freedom. Once you learn how to plunge that first stopped up toilet of creativity, the rest might be extra plumbing.


I regretted that I had given up the lensbaby 2.0 in favor of this locking tilt shift version which looked like that thing they put on people's heads and shoulders when they break their necks.  I truly believe that the medical apparatus has more power in what it does than these extra gadgets on this Lensbaby 3g.  If you are doing the ebay shuffle, I think that you might want to avoid this model.  It was "less than."  It didn't do enough to make a difference and its extra steps made it less impressive.


I convinced my dearly departed friend, Bob Crum,  to buy one of the original "2.0" versions after I showed off to him how I could make some interesting florals with it. He's gone now and I will meet him again (affectionately) in the high heavens as a later date. I can't convince him to sell me his older "2.0" and the prices on ebay are stupid, silly, over priced right now. 


A year or so ago, you could get a lensbaby 2.0 for about$20-40 on ebay. Right now, the price is up to over $100 and I don't get it. We are still locked down in covid status. Aren't people dumping stuff for cheap? You can pick up the SOL lensbaby for about $200 and it's as good or better than the original LB2.0 which sells for $150-200 at this writing. You can buy the Spark which is the LB2.0, brand spanking new -- between the two, I'd opt for the Sol, but the Sol does other things.... or, perhaps it is a better version of LB 2.0.


I own a Velvet 56 which I will talk about at another time. If I get myself up on youtube, having that pricey 56 isn't enough... are they trying to talk me into the "85" as well... or would my macro lenses (90 mm and 180 mm) be good enough. You do not need to rush out and buy those two macro lenses unless you have money to burn and we are talking selective focus here, not macro.  


I just dropped better than $350 for the Composer Pro II with the 50 mm optic. Consider it my birthday present to myself.  I plan to get out and experiment and write more about selective focus, but the best place to start is with the lensbaby 2.0 which I still wish I owned. Once you learn to stop hating it, it was quite an interesting lens. I leave you with two initial shots I took with the lensbaby 2.0 just to let you know what you can do.  Now, if you are "hard core" tack sharp, perhaps a good study of pictorialism will get you to understand why selective focus has become such an art form, dating back to the origins of photography  Anyone can snap a picture, but someone worth his salt will bring creativity to a final image. If you never had the opportunity to walk across the deck with a peg leg, memorizing every thump and how it sounded on one wood plank compared to another, then I must say that you never really learned how to live. Creativity starts with a starting point and it ends with a final symphony of all of the sounds, visuals and colors you find.




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