SPARK 1-2-3 (Lensbaby SPARK)

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Photo: Nikon D3s with Lensbaby SPARK, Nikon D2Hs & Nikon D1x. Photo by Julian Tan.

I am pretty remote to Lensbaby’s range of products. But in my recent quest for more creative options for my photography works, I went online and searched for “Creative Optics” and pages and pages of Lensbaby lenses showed up on the searched page. Then something caught my eyes, a new Lensbaby named as “SPARK”.

Launched only just months ago (18th Sep 2012), this lens promises “fun & creative” options (quote: Craig Strong, Lensbaby Chief Creative Officer & Co-Founder). Without further hesitation, I contacted the local distributor for Lensbaby, Cathay Photo Store Pte Ltd. After a short phone call, a review unit was arranged for me.

First impressions – the SPARK feels & looks like a MUSE. But upon careful scrutiny, SPARK is pretty much like a “little brother” of MUSE, but made simpler. I was handed a Nikon F-Mount version so I have to work my review along the Nikon bodies. After much thoughts, I decided to have the SPARK tested on a really old DX (cropped) sensor (Nikon D1x), a really low megapixel body (Nikon D2hs) and the high spec FX (Full frame) body (Nikon D3s). Thus giving this project a name “Project Lensbaby SPARK 1-2-3”.

I rounded up 3 other Photographers/ Editors to make this review interesting, they are;
– Yu Ling, Travel Editor & Event Photographer
– Anson Kwok, Guest Editor & Photographer
– Julian Tan, SJS Photographer for Documentation

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Photo: L-R, Anson Kwok, Yu Ling & Allan Lee. Photo by Julian Tan.

We picked a stormy Sunday afternoon and went out to Vivo City to test the SPARK. The overcast sky, the wet ground and almost colorless ambience really thrown us off tracks on how we should even do this. We briefly discussed and decided to just take stroll and we will capture whatever that comes our way and we are off.

Lensbaby SPARK on Nikon D1x by Allan Lee, Editor/SJS.
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Photo: Allan Lee. Photo by Julian Tan

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Photo by Allan LEE, Nikon D1x with Lensbaby Spark

 

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Photo by Allan LEE, Nikon D1x with Lensbaby Spark

 

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Photo by Allan LEE, Nikon D1x with Lensbaby Spark

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Photo: Allan Lee. Photo by Julian Tan

Lensbaby SPARK on Nikon D2hs by Yu Ling, Travel Editor/SJS.
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Photo: Yu Ling. Photo by Julian Tan

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Photo by Yu Ling, Nikon D2hs with Lensbaby Spark.

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Photo by Yu Ling, Nikon D2hs with Lensbaby Spark.

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Photo by Yu Ling, Nikon D2hs with Lensbaby Spark.

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Photo: Yu Ling. Photo by Julian Tan

Lensbaby SPARK on Nikon D3s by Anson Kwok, Guest Editor/SJS.

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Photo: Anson Kwok. Photo by Julian Tan

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Photo by Anson Kwok, Nikon D3s with Lensbaby Spark.

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Photo by Anson Kwok, Nikon D3s with Lensbaby Spark.

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Photo by Anson Kwok, Nikon D3s with Lensbaby Spark.

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Photo: Anson Kwok. Photo by Julian Tan

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although a picture says a thousand words, we would like to share with our readers what we think, our Likes & Dislikes of the Lensbaby SPARK.

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Allan Lee’s Comments
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Photo: Allan Lee. Photo by Julian Tan

The SPARK offers a very creative way to find the “Sweet Spot” within a frame, however, for photographers who are new to Lensbaby, it may take a little while to get used to operating the lens. However when one gets accustomed to it, it is pretty easy to use it for a variety of photographic applications.

What I like:
– Humble price.
– Strange look of the Lens (and onlookers alike)
– Artistic blur that gives bokeh a whole new meaning.
– Good photo & color quality.
– Filter & Optics options. (Compatible with all Lensbaby Optics)
– Close focusing range. (Manufacturer claims 33cm, I tried 30cm & it works)

What I dislike:
– Tiny lens cap (easily misplaced)
– Focusing needs more effort.
– Plastic Mount.
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Yu Ling’s Comments
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I find the SPARK refreshing. Having no prior relations with Lensbaby’s lenses, the SPARK makes a great entry option to Lensbaby. I took a while to “find my way” around to use it, and once I get the drift, the SPARK is fun. It makes me wants to look at things & subjects in a different way that I usually see them, it is all very experimental to me when the SPARK is concerned.

What I like:
– Easy to operate (after getting used to it)
– Full control over the focusing area.
– Give subject new perspectives not possible with conventional lenses.
– Good price.
– Small & Compact.

What I dislike:
– Challenging for quick composition.
– The supplied fixed F5.6 aperture. (Will prefer F2.8)
–  Toy-like build.
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Anson Kwok’s Comments
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Photo: Anson Kwok. Photo by Julian Tan

This is my first experience with a Lensbaby product and the SPARK is a great “introductory” product for many people. On first look, the SPARK makes me wonder as I do not really know what to expect (of the photos). A quick research online prior to the review reveals photos that I had never seen before and yes, I like what I saw. Using the SPARK during the review was fun, and yes, I will buy one too.

What I like:
– Simple, Light & Compact construction.
– Open up new possibilities for my photography style.
– Very good price for hours & hours of fun.
– Selective focus all done manually.
– Sweet distortions on out of focus area.
– Can use other filters on the filter thread.

What I dislike:
– Lens looks like it cannot take abuse and & harsh weather.
– A little too plasticky for my liking.
– Lens cap design, nothing wrong with it, I just don’t like it.
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Some quick information about SPARK:
– In the box, you will receive the SPARK, Instructions & a Pouch.
– 50mm (75mm on Nikon cropped bodies (DX) & 80mm on Canon cropped bodies.
– Fixed Aperture of F5.6
– Manual Lens.
– Glass Doublets Optics & Multi coated.
– Focusing range from 33cm
– All Lensbaby Optics will fit into SPARK but, some optic are a little too heavy for the SPARK to handle like the Sweet35, Edge80 & Fisheye Optics. Your SPARK will be dangling downwards like. . . . Forget it.

For More Information or Specifications on Lensbaby SPARK, visit http://www.cathayphoto.com.sg/node/317
or http://store.lensbaby.com/products/spark/

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Photo: Group Photo by Julian Tan.

Thanks to Yu Ling, Anson Kwok & Julian Tan for making this project possible,
and Special Thanks to Cathay Photo Store Pte Ltd for allowing this project to happen.
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About Cathay Photo Store Pte Ltd
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Established in 1959, Cathay Photo since its very beginning has been driven by the objectives of providing the best photographic equipment, pricing and service to our customers. These objectives have ensured its continued growth from just two humble showcases occupying a quarter of a shop-front to its present five retail outlets, an administrative / distribution office and a warehouse.

It is constantly on the lookout for the latest gadgets and solutions to add to its line-up of over 60 internationally renowned brands, and recognizing the growing presence and popularity of HD video, due largely to the introduction of DSLR cameras with HD video capabilities, it made its foray into the Pro Video market, expanding its offering to products from brands such as Steadicam, Zacuto, Kessler Crane and Genus to name a few.

Having served the photography industry for over 50 years, and backed by its proud heritage, Cathay Photo is without doubt the preferred photographic retailer in Singapore today.
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About Lensbaby
Print
Lensbaby is a Portland, Oregon based manufacturer of award-winning Creative Effects SLR & mirrorless camera lenses. Lensbaby was launched in February 2004 by Craig Strong, a professional photographer and the inventor of the patented Lensbaby Creative Effects SLR lens system. Lensbaby sells to photographers all over the world through its website, http://www.lensbaby.com, by direct calls, at trade shows, in leading photo retailers, and through a growing global network of international distributors.


About Editor AL

About The Web Editor: http://about.me/shutterjourney
This entry was posted in Brand: Nikon, Brand: Others (Cosina, Carl Zeiss, Leica, Mamiya, Samyang, Vivitar, Zenitar,etc), Featured Photographers, Featured Photography Merchants, Group Test & Reviews, Photography Articles & Videos, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to SPARK 1-2-3 (Lensbaby SPARK)

  1. Pingback: Bending the rules – that’s what Lensbaby is all about. | Shutter Journey (SGP)

  2. Pingback: Reliving Lensbaby Composer | Shutter Journey (SGP)

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