Medium Format Lensbabies; Blur & Distortion Go Big! Page 2

While I like the way the Lensbaby 3G allows you to lock it in place and then focus (try that with the older models), the way it's executed could stand improvement. Every time, and I mean every time, after locking the lens in place and trying to focus I grabbed one of the round knobs on the locking "antennae" instead of one of the three focusing rings' round knobs. While merely inconvenient, it was still frustrating when I just wanted to snap the shutter. I tried to think how to improve the lens' human engineering but drew a blank, which is probably how the designers felt. Maybe the Lensbaby 4G will have square, red focusing knobs or something else.

(Left): Still in a pictorial riff, I like the effect produced by the Medium Format Lensbaby 3G with this classic farm image. Sure I could have shot it in black and white, but I really liked the red roof and captured this pastoral image with Fuji's PRO 160C for its punchy color and primary reds and blues. (Right): Riddle me this: When is a Holga-like photograph not produced with a Holga toy camera? When you attach a Medium Format Lensbaby 3G to your Mamiya 645 or Pentax 67 camera! To enhance the Holga look, I added dark framed edges with the Soft Black Rule Fat effect that's part of PixelGenius' ( PhotoKit Photoshop compatible plug-in.

If you're not already a Lensbaby user or don't buy into the concept, then you are probably saying to yourself the following:
· I can do that in Photoshop. The classic postproduction way of achieving some of the effects created in camera by using a Lensbaby is produced by creating a duplicate layer (Layer>Duplicate Layer) then adding Motion Blur (Filters>Blur>Motion Blur). That's true, but capturing the picture in camera means you can make prints with all the effects in place at the time the film is processed.
· It's OK if you like distortion. Contrary to what some gurus will tell you, there are no rules in photography. If you make pictures for yourself, make them to have fun. The Medium Format Lensbaby 3G adds a romantic, pictorial touch to what would otherwise be an ordinary photo.

Using the Medium Format Lensbaby 3G lenses is also a way of creating Holga-like camera effects without using a Holga. Not to detract from that classic plastic toy camera, but shooting medium format film in a real camera that is part of a real system gives you the ability to have in camera metering and connect to studio flash equipment. This offers photographers, whether capturing images of high school seniors or brides, another lens option for making a portrait.

I photographed my wife Mary in the front yard of our home next to a flowering apple tree with Kodak's Portra 400NC film. This portrait was made at the f/8 aperture that seems to be the "sweet spot" for being able to focus the Medium Format Lensbaby 3G. Using a later model Pentax 6x7 camera and/or a brighter focusing screen such as the Beattie Intenscreen might change that.

Lensbaby 3G medium format lenses are not cheap ($390), but if you're working with medium format film chances are you are already used to that. Optional accessories include a Macro Kit, 0.6X Wide Angle/Macro Lens, and 0.6X Wide Angle/1.6X Telephoto Conversion Kit. I like the Lensbaby 3G for the Pentax 6x7 so much that I bought a used camera just so I could use it!

For more information, contact Lensbabies, LLC, 516 SE Morrison St., Ste. M4, Portland, OR 97214; (877) 536-7222, (971) 223-5662;

Pentax 6x7 Lineage
The Pentax 6x7 was first produced in 1969 and along the way underwent some minor modifications, including the addition of a Mirror Lockup (MLU). In '89, the 6x7's shutter timing was changed to being fully electromechanically controlled. Some components were replaced with polycarbonate and the new model was renamed Pentax 67. In '98 the camera was redesigned with the addition of autoexposure and matrix metering and renamed Pentax 67II. The camera I used for this test was an oldie but goodie 6x7, although it had the MLU option.

Technical Specifications
Optic: Multi-coated optical glass doublet
Focal Length: Approx. 80mm (for Mamiya 645); approx. 100mm (for Pentax 67)
Focus Type: Hybrid manual compression/manual barrel
Aperture Type: Interchangeable aperture disks (f/3.4, f/4.8, f/6.8, f/9.5, f/13, f/19, f/26, f/39)
Minimum Focus: Approx. 1.5 ft
Size: 3x3.25"
Weight: 6.7 oz
Price: $390

Acknowledgements: Many thanks to the Used Department at Adorama Camera ( and Mr. Jack Gold for his assistance in finding a used Pentax 6x7 that I purchased just for this test.