Lensbaby Spark Review
I am super psyched to tell you about the Lensbaby's newest lens: Spark. I've spent a month playing with Spark and I can't get enough. It's a fun new way to add creativity to your photos without sacrificing quality. Heads up: all photos in this post are straight out of my camera. No post processing was done except for resizing and sharpening for web (and the addition of my watermark). I wanted you all to see the beautiful colors and tones that Spark delivers.
Yes. Sunflowers. Again. Look at the detail on the stem. Such pretty bokeh and blur too.
Spark is a 50mm manual focus lens with a fixed f 5.6 aperture. It's available for Canon and Nikon DSLRs but there is no electronic communication between the lens and camera body. Spark is compatible with some of Lensbaby's optics and all the 37mm threaded accessory lenses. Read more about Spark here.
Winter is near. This was only two weeks ago. Sigh. Check out the edges and color. I adore this lens when its overcast.
What it means
Since the lens is manual focus you have to be a bit patient. You're not going to nail every shot at first and they won't all be razor sharp. That's not the point of this lens. Spark has the signature Lensbaby sweet spot of focus which is surrounded by increasing blur toward the edges of your photo. This lens forces you to slow down a bit and do some thinking. You can shoot recklessly and might have some cool results but your number of keepers will increase drastically if you slow down a bit.
Focusing manually sounds like a pain but its a blast with Spark. You squeeze the outer edges of the lens with your fingers until your sweet spot is in focus. Squeeze a lot for far away objects and squeeze a little for close up stuff. It's springy and responsive and there's something intensely gratifying about focusing this way. You can move your area of focus by bending the lens as you squeeze. It adds visual interest to the photo and leads to unique results.
Since the lens doesn't communicate with your camera you have to do a bit more thinking. I use the lens in manual mode since I'm a control freak but it works great in aperture priority if you're looking for one less thing to worry about. Set ISO, point your camera, squeeze to selectively focus, and shoot. That's it. It's easier than I expected it to be.
The shot is a bit warm since the sun snuck out but it's perfect to me. See how sharp his eyes are? Love the cascading softness around his face. I had to beg him to look at me though.
Anything! It's more fun (for me) to practice on anyone or anything but my kids. I can definitely get some decent shots of the kids but it takes time to get a real winner since they're constantly on the move. It's worth the wait.
The lens doesn't have a steep learning curve. Twist it on and get to work. It's perfect for entry-level DSLR users, non professionals (pros looking for inexpensive fun are welcome too), and anyone who wants to have some fun with their photography without spending hundreds or even thousands on a speciality lens.
It's durable too. Although its lightweight and plastic (the optic is a multi-coated glass doublet) it's solid.
It's awesome how the blur isolates your subject and really makes it stand out. Can't beat the color and saturation either.
Kid trick: keep them occupied with something so they slow down a bit. Boom. Cute photo.
You've got the idea. Gorgeous colors, bokeh, blur, great focus, and clearly I really like to center my subjects and focus on the center :)
Buy this thing. It's $80.00 and worth it. Add it to your Christmas list, sell your old New Kids on the Block dolls (they're antiques now right? Asking for a friend), or treat yourself (guilt free!). You'll have a blast playing with this lens and it will force you to expand your creative horizons while having so much fun. I can't think of any drawbacks to Spark. I love it and you probably will too. If you don't I'm sure you'd be able to find someone to take it off your hands and you can try a different Lensbaby. They make good stuff and have excellent customer service so you have nothing to worry about. I'm hooked and may have already placed an order for some macro acessories. i couldn't help myself.
How cute is this little guy? Not the puppy on the left or my blurred son in the background. The lens!
The Lensbaby Spark is a fantastic lens and creative tool. High quality, inexpensive, and easy to use. Give it a try.
Any questions about Spark?