Want to use you camera to take fun pictures on the go? The Lensbaby Spark may be just what you need. The Lensbaby Spark is one of the more unusual camera accessories I have used since I began covering camera accessories. The lens runs $80 and is available for both Canon and Nikon mounts.
For your $80, you get a “selective-focus” “tilt-shift” lens that shoots at f/5.6 with a fixed focal length of 50mm. If you are not quite sure what that means, you are not alone. And while, in most cases, I might take the attitude of “if you don’t get the basic idea, then this might not be the option for you”, but I’m not taking that position here. Why? Because even for a n00b like me, the Spark lets you create blur effects in your photos that are way too much fun to pass up.
Let’s talk about what it is and see the images we shot with it first time out.
From Lensbaby website
The Lensbaby Spark is a small, short lens whose center looks like an accordion. You swap the Spark out with your standard lens, and you are good to go. The swap will take your potentially-fully-automatic DSLR and turn it into a fully-manual image-maker. That’sa kinda the idea.
Your want to put your camera in manual and you may have to play around with the aperture settings for a bit to get the lighting you need. From there it is all squeeze, tilt, bend and shoot.
Fun, expressive, creative and exhilarating – Spark is all of these things, and more. If you’re a hands-on photographer always up for a little adventure, you’ll find a kindred spirit in Spark. Spark is a fun way to capture unique photos with your Canon or Nikon DSLR.
Looking to capture the magic of everyday, fleeting moments, in a way that’s different and unique? Spark will ignite your imagination.
Spark photos will have a snappy “sweet spot” or round spot of focus, surrounded by melt-in-your-mouth, beautiful blur.
Available in mounts for Canon EF (EOS) and Nikon F.
I received the review sample some time ago, but I waited until this week when we were in Aruba so Judie and I could play around with some fun in the sun shots.
Let’s check out the specs, and then see some of Judie’s and my pictures.
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.
I have to admit that I was a bit intimidated by the Spark. After all, I tend to do most of my shooting with the camera on automatic. I shouldn’t have been worried. Judie showed me what to do — she set the camera to Manual and then used her left hand to squeeze and tilt the lens while holding the camera body with her right hand. Her method fell right in along the lines of Lensbaby’s own instructions to…
Replace your normal lens with a Spark
Set your camera to “M” mode
Squeeze to focus
I would pick an items that I wanted to feature in the shot (the busier the background, the better), then point the camera at the item, pull in on the lens until it was in focus, and then bend the lens in one direction or the other until I got the frame and focus that seemed most interesting .. then I snapped.
Here are some of Judie’s and my results …
What I Like: Easy to set up and start using; Takes awesomely interesting pictures; Adds some fun, functional image taking into your DSL-use
What Needs Improvement: Takes a little practice to get the shots you want (but digital film is free, right?)
Source: Manufacturer supplied review sample