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First Impressions: Lensbaby Scout with Fisheye Optic (Sony Alpha)

by Julius Motal on 02/28/2013

Lensbaby Scout

This here’s my second piece of glass from creative company Lensbaby, the same group of folks responsible for the Muse (reviewed by yours truly). The Scout is Lensbaby’s only fixed lens. That is to say it walks with other lenses that use a standard issue focusing ring as opposed to a compress-to-focus accordion-style body. I received the lens a week ago, and I’ve had some to take it out for a test run on the streets of New York City. Here are my first impressions.

 

Tech Specs

Courtesy of Adorama:

  • Fisheye Optic Specs and Features:
  • Focal Length: 12mm
  • 160 degree angle of view
  • Focuses from 1/2 inch to infinity
  • Creative flare effect fills border around image circle with colors from brightlight sources in the photo
  • Six multi-coated glass elements
  • Maximum aperture of f/4, aperture disks that range from f/5.6 to f/22
  • Removable disk aperture system

Lensbaby ScoutErgonomics

This lens has the aesthetic of small cannon. I can’t help but think a bullet bill might shoot out of this thing, a la Super Mario, every time I take a photo. The Scout’s made of metal, looks and feels like brushed aluminum, with a nicely-sized, rubberized focusing ring. Lensbaby left the compress-to-focus method in the shop for the Scout. The Fisheye Optic is dead center on this one, and the Scout is compatible with Lensbaby’s catalogue of interchangeable optics. Be mindful that there is no electronic communication between the Scout and your camera, so autofocus is out of the question. If you’re shooting with a Sony camera, be sure to set it to “Release w/o lens”. The wording may be slightly different on newer Sony cameras.

Build Quality

As stated above, the Scout has a smooth metal body and a great focusing ring. The lens screws on tightly, and focusing is wonderfully fluid. The Fisheye Optic screws into the Scout’s body, so be careful when removing the lens cap. You don’t want to pull too hard, as you could potentially damage the screw thread. The Scout feels like it could survive a fall, but as with all of my lenses, I would never chance it.

Focusing

As with all Lensbaby lenses, manual focusing is the name of the game. The fine folks at Lensbaby pride themselves on adding a dose of creativity to the crowded lens market, and they are undoubtedly successful. In doing that, autofocusing is sacrificed and that’s okay. With the Scout, you focus as you would with any other standard-issue lens, and the focusing ring is big enough to accomodate hands of all sizes.

Ease of Use

The Scout is very easy to use, as it works like most lenses. Unlike the Muse, there is no learning curve, unless you’re new to a 12mm field of view like I was. This’d be a solid addition to anyone looking to add a new perspective to their photography.

Image Quality

Here are some sample shots from my first few days with the lens. I have not edited these on principle to show the lenses capabilities.

First Impressions

This is an excellent little lens at a fraction of the cost of standard-issue fisheye lenses. Like all of Lensbaby’s glass, the Scout comes with what are known as aperture disks. Be especially careful with those, as improper handling or extreme weather could lead to damage or disappearance. I lost one of the disks during my review of the Muse. It was particularly cold in Dumbo and my numbed fingers couldn’t properly put them away; one fell through the cracks of the dock.

There is some noticeable chromatic aberration, but that can be fixed in post should you want to. The Scout provides great results in such a small package. A more definitive opinion will come in the full review. Stick around.

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