I have been testing something new from my friends at Lensbaby and am madly in love with this little lens! It’s called the Sol 45 and it has renewed the magic that Lensbaby has always brought to my photographs. This is a lightweight sweet spot lens, 45mm, with a fixed f/3.5 aperture and a 14 inch minimum focus distance. It’s all metal and tilts within the rule of thirds and also locks into a center position. The magic comes with a secondary feature, it has “bokeh blades”, two little arms that sit out to the side of the lens that can be moved in front to get texture in your bokeh, or left to the side when you don’t want to use them. You can also rotate them so the texture can go in any direction to match or contrast with the lines in your subject. So now I can add a texture to my background right in camera, how cool is that? It is also inexpensive at $199 and very simple to use.
Here is a shot of the inside of the lens with the blades together and also out of the way:
You can change the tilt of the blades easily:
I haven’t taken this lens off my camera since it arrived. I have been feeling a shift in my work recently for more blur and limited depth of field, and the fixed f/3.5 aperture fits that beautifully. Shooting for selective focus makes you slow down, compose carefully, and think about what it is you want to highlight in your subject. Careful focus placement is also essential with this type of work.
Here are some samples of what I have been shooting, straight out of the camera. I have used the Lensbaby Macro Lenses for some images, the +2 is just right for the Sol 45:
This lens is definitely not just for macro and not just for flowers, I had fun shooting many different subjects, even lobster traps!
There is also a version for Micro 4/3rds users, the Sol 22 has a minimum focus distance of 3.5 inches.
A few tips for using the Sol 45:
~A background with lots of lines will show more effect.
~You can push the blades out of the way if you don’t want the effect for a particular subject.
~Remember the minimum focus distance, if you get closer than the Sol can focus you will get frustrated.
~ Try tilting, don’t put all of your subjects in the center.
~Compose and focus carefully, use selective focus to draw your viewer’s eye to what you found to be more interesting in the scene.