Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Introducing Lensbaby Edge 80

Those of you who are familiar with the Lensbaby line of optics will be able to appreciate the new Edge 80 optic that was announced today.
In-case you are not sure what Lensbaby is all about, it's a line of inexpensive manual optics (lenses) that have a "sweet spot" of sharp focus you can shift around to create unique selective focus images.

The difference with the new optic is that instead of a sweet spot of focus in the middle of the frame that will render everything AROUND it out of focus, the Edge 80 employs a SLICE of focus that runs through the length of the frame (in any direction depending on the angle of tilt/shift).
But wait, there is more :) when the optic is not being manipulated, i.e is facing strait forward, it behaves as a normal, flat plane lens enabling you to take regular "normal" looking photographs.

The benefit I see is being able to employ the Edge 80 on commercial shoots where creativity is appreciated but you want to be careful and keep images looking natural, where optics such as the Double Glass might land you a bit of an "over the top" look.

I already posted my little hands on test with the Lensbaby Composer+Double Glass (which I love) so I was curious to see what the Edge 80 will do.

First, some specs:

The Edge 80 has a maximum aperture of f/2.8, a 12 blade rounded aperture, and 5 multi-coated GLASS elements in 4 groups. The front of the lens sports a 46mm thread for additional accessories and/or filters.

The Edge 80 resting in the Composer Pro. The large aperture ring is easy to grab and turn and has a noticeable, but slight click at each full stop from f/2.8 to f/22

The tech info above was provided curtsey of Mike Zawadzki, Mike was the first to do a real review on the Edge 80, you can read a detailed description along with photos on Mike's blog.

Here is a short video showing how the new optic works:
Edge 80 video

I only had it for a short period of time and spent about 20 min strolling around Grand Central station in NYC.

(The comparison shots you will see with the Composer+Double Glass were taken earlier that week and have a different color setting in camera, I wanted to leave all shots "as is" so I did not do any color match later in post.)

The top image of the ceiling has the optic parallel to the camera film plane. Below it, just a little shift sideways produces a soft transition isolating one row of lights, creating a whole different feel :

The top image of Grand Central main hall has the optic parallel to the camera film plane rendering everything equally in focus.
The bottom image has the optic tilted causing the crowd to be blurry drawing attention to the clock:

Contrast that image with the one produced using the Double Glass (shot earlier in the week, different color balance):

Here is another example of tilting the lens up/down to select the part of the image you want in focus:

Again, compare that to the image taken with the Double Glass:

Below you can see the same image (hand held) using the Edge 80 flat on, then tilted in two directions. The difference is pretty dramatic:

As dramatic as it is, it's still natural looking, as oppose to the Double Glass which adds a bit of "flare":

From L to R, optic is pointing straight ahead, then tilted in different directions:

Top image taken in normal mode, bottom one isolates the sitting man in a very natural way:

The Double Glass offers a unique but less natural look (I happen to like this shot :)):

A few more Edge 80 vs Double Glass images, while I like them both, I can see different applications for each one:

Edge 80

Double Glass

Top image taken in normal mode, bottom one has a vertical slice of focus:

Double Glass

Double Glass

In conclusion, I can see many ways to use this new lens in everything from event photography (some wonderful, natural isolation of wedding elements) to commercial work (food, table top, architecture) and portraits (isolating the eyes, baby's feet, old hands).
Another avenue I think will be very rewarding is using the Edge 80 in various video productions...I think I'm going to rent this lens again and give that a go :)

Inside info - Unique Photo is holding a launch event party this Thursday, Feb 16 - if you live in the NY/NJ area and want to see an up close and personal demo of the new gear as well as do a hands on for yourself, bring a camera (if you want) and check it out! lensbaby launch Event


  1. cool I want to try one of these how much to they got for?

  2. I think Unique is running a special on Thursday, I'll find out if you can't make it :)

  3. Great shots! Someone was having fun with the new lens..... =)

  4. Thanks Patrick :) the only "negative" thing I can say about it is it's a bit tricky to see exactly where the sharp slice of focus actually is. It depends on the subject being shot & I guess 20 min is not enough to really get to know it well :)