When I got a bonus from work, it really wasn’t a question of if the money would go into camera equipment, but what piece from my long list of wants was coming home with me. I wound up going for the Lensbaby Muse (double glass), and I think I have fallen in love.
I’ll admit, I wasn’t entirely sure about the lens when I played with it in the store, but with two weeks to return if I didn’t feel it was made of sunshine and rainbows, I figured what the hell. Driving away, I wondered whether the selective focus of the lens baby was really going to be so different from my 35mm, f1.8 lens. I was almost positive I’d be back at the store getting my money back within the week.
And then I shot with it. The learning curve is certainly high and I am far from a Lensbaby master, but I have no intentions of taking it out of my small-but-growing arsenal of lenses.
Don’t get me wrong, the lens is finicky. Focusing the Muse (which has to be done manually) involves pulling the front of the lens towards the camera then tilting it to move the “sweet spot” of focus around the frame. This can be tricky, makes quick shots hard to pull off (if you want them focused, at least), and self portraits are all but impossible (though I do plan on trying some night when I’m feeling an abundance of patience). On the plus side, when I do get the Muse properly focused*, that part of my image is just as crisp as any of my Nikkor lenses.
Part of me feels like the Lensbaby is to an SLR what Hipstamatic is to the iPhone camera–a magical tool that can turn a mediocre-at-best shot into an interesting image. I think I am OK with this. The Muse can be difficult and sometimes unpredictable, but when it comes down to it the lens is just plain fun.