Lensbaby, the manufacturer best known for its selective focus lenses such as the recently introduced LM-10 “sweet spot” lens for iPhone, has now announced a circular fisheye lens for Canon and Nikon DSLRs. With a focal length of 5.8mm and an initial aperture of f/3.5, the lens has an incredible angle-of-view of 185 degrees, which means it is able to look slightly behind itself. Made for cameras with APS-C-sized sensors, it creates a perfectly circular image with a spectacular panoramic view.
With this lens, the company somewhat deviates from its usual product range, which are lenses that let you get creative with what’s in focus. Lensbaby’s most famous product range is the Optic Swap system, which comes with exchangeable mounts and lens modules that even let you create tilt-shift effects. Now, instead of creative focus, the Circular Fisheye lens specializes in creative viewing angles. No, Lensbaby lenses aren’t for everyday shooting, but for those times when you want to get funky with your photos.
Fisheye lenses are the underdogs in photography, as they are highly specialized and not meant for general application. They do get used a lot in action and sports photography, though, due to the simple fact that they often come with very wide angles of view, meaning that they can capture a lot of action from very close up. Another typical quality of fisheye lenses is the distortion that they produce, in that they make all things appear bent and out of proportion.
This is exactly what Lensbaby wants you to play with: the optical imperfection instead of the biting sharpness, smooth bokeh (blurring), and perfect optical symmetry you get from regular photographic lenses.
The Lensbaby Circular Fisheye, like all Lensbaby products, is fully manual in operation, which means that you won’t be able to rely on autofocus. But it comes with a distance scale on the focusing ring that makes quick focusing to the right distance much easier. Also, at this focal length, missing focus will be a tough thing to do, as most things in the frame will be sharp anyway.
The lens is available for pre-order now and comes with a retail price of $300. More info is available on Lensbaby’s website.