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First Impressions: Lensbaby Spark

by G Servo on 12/27/2012

The interesting thing is that this is the fourth 50mm lens I have tested on my  Nikon D700 camera. It is not, however, your typical 50mm. This is the Lensbaby Spark which makes it a whole other delightful creature. When I first tested it at Photo Plus Expo 2012 I was intrigued. I did not see the Lensbaby Spark as a hipster fashion statement, nor did I see it as a toy. I saw it as a fascinating tool. I got to know the lens while on a photo walk with some members of The Phoblographer team. Here is what I think so far.

 

Tech Specs

From Lensbaby

  • Focal Length: 50mm
  • Aperture: fixed f/5.6
  • Optic: multi-coated glass doublet
  • Focus type: manual
  • Sweet spot, selective focus lens (creates a sweet spot of focus surrounded by gradually increasing blur)
  • Available for Canon and Nikon mount DSLRs
  • Focusing range: approximately 13” (33 cm) to infinity
  • Compatible with Lensbaby Optic Swap System* and all Lensbaby 37mm threaded accessory lenses.
  • No electronic communication between the lens and the camera body.
  • U.S. Patent Numbers 7,800,680 and 8,289,436

*All current Lensbaby optics will fit, but the Spark is not recommended for use with the Sweet 35, Fisheye, and Edge 80 optics as these optics are heavy and it is difficult to hold the lens steady and focus.

Build Quality

LensBaby Rep at PhotoPlusExpo 2012

It’s not exactly the most technologically advanced feeling lens. The Lensbaby Spark is ultra-light, which makes it easy to carry. It’s also very easy to use. Made out of tough plastic, the Spark is sturdy and it goes in and out of my bag without a problem.

Ergonomics

The Lensbaby spark had a fixed aperture of f5.6. It is also compatible with Lensbaby Optic Swap System.

Its rear lens cap fits normal Nikon lenses due to the F Mount compatibility  which makes things more efficient when switching out lenses. There are very few moving parts so everything looks solid, simple, and clean.

There is nothing to configure, no buttons to hit, and no switches. It’s very easy to just go out and shoot with this lens.

It is a squeeze to focus to focus system. It’s very responsive and easy to use.

Focusing

NYC from Brooklyn

Focusing with the Lensbaby Spark is taking some getting used to, but you’ll have fun the entire time with it. Basically all you have to do is squeeze to focus. Furthermore,  you have to play with the lens to get different results. You also have to think about how you choose your subjects. If there is nothing to blur, the effect of the lens will not be seen as much. See coffee image below.

Image Quality

Coffee (^_^)

So far the image quality is impressive. With your subjects kept at a distance, you get a nice look to the image. Up close the effect on the subject is slightly different but also remarkable, and if there is nothing to blur things with be smooth. There is a lot more to explore with this lens, though.

First Impressions

The funny thing is, you sit and look at the Lensbaby Spark, at first, with its low cost and differences when held against other lenses, and think ‘novelty’. So far, though, it’s properly brilliant. It’s going to take some getting used to, but that’s welcome. The Lensbaby Spark has a lot going for it. From NYC’s subways tunnels to wide open space, this lens was a joy.

Here are a few more samples from my first use of the lens.

Featuring members of The Phoblographer team

Chris Gampat

Peter Walkowiak

Julius Constantine Motal

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