I got a new unconventional lens this week to play with. The Sol 45… from the Lensbaby company. It hasn’t been that long since my last unconventional lens purchase and I was lamenting the fact that I have most of the ones I already wanted and was wondering what would excite me next – so I was kind of surprised this past week when this new lens dropped!
I spent today at the botanical gardens putting this lens through its paces and I feel like I have a really good handle on how this lens performs and how it differs to the other lenses they offer.
This lens is a stand-alone lens and is not part of their optic swap system. As with all of their lenses – it is manual focus and has a fixed f3.5 aperture setting with a tack sharp circular area surrounded with soft pretty blur. It is a flat pancake type lens that takes up very little space in your camera bag. This lens has a slight tilting ability but not nearly as dramatic as the composer pro system. Becuase of the less dramatic tilting – you get a softer, less distorted blur with this lens. One really cool feature on this lens is the bokeh blades – these are plastic parts in front of the lens you can close down to get some really creative texture in your background. (After playing with this feature – I really wish these blades were interchangeable with other patterned blades! Wouldn’t that have been cool? UPDATE – I have found the solution to this problem in my latest blog post!!)
The focus spot is larger than the sweet spot lenses – making it much easier to find your focus. I’d say the focus is significantly easier with this lens actually. The sweet spot lenses cause such distortion depending on the amount you tilt them that sometimes you can’t find any spot in your photo in focus. I didn’t have the problem with this lens at all.
I was a bit miffed at myself when I got to the gardens when I realized that I forgot my extension tubes! This lens doesn’t offer any macro capabilities and I was wishing several times to get closer. I won’t make that mistake again – I’d love to see how this lens performs a bit closer so I will be going back soon to play again!
In all – I was very happy playing with this lens all day. I think they have simplified your choices on this lens compared to their other lenses. With less setting choices to think about as you are shooting – you could spend more time getting creative with what it offers. If you find some of the other Lensbaby lenses a challenge to work with – then this might be the perfect one for you.
*These photos were processed with the Euphoria preset collection.
Sol 45 With bokeh blades