(but it isn’t a really good one!)
Once again, I find myself apologising profusely for these long delays between posts. I’d hoped, and planned, to do better…but its been a strange and weary time (as in 2017) and I’ll touch on that in my year end post. (Which going by recent form will be written sometime next summer…)
In truth, this review is not really a review. A review should really be a written summary of my personal thoughts on something that I have used extensively over a period of time, providing a thoughtful opinion for those interested in this lens. This blog entry isn’t that…
The reason? I only used a third of this lens…
The ‘Sweet’ setting is really the only setting I use. And honestly, its worth buying for this setting alone.
The ‘Twist’ option, in theory, should be the most interesting but I was never in a position to really get the best out of it. ‘Twist’ needs a busy, illuminated, spot lit, ‘sun peaking thru the trees’ type of background – some distance behind your main subject, ideally – and this opportunity just never presented itself. Admittedly, I never went looking for it either, at least not on the streets. I may revisit this when the Christmas lights are in full swing, and I have a subject willing to stand in the cold for me for about an hour…
The ‘Velvet’ setting is plain shite. You can easily do this effect in Lightroom if you have an urge for your images to look crap. Its wishy-washy, poorly rendered, lomographied (did I just make up a word?) gunk…seriously, don’t bother.
Before I get going even more, lets have a quick look at the specs.
On my X-Pro 2, the effective focal length (in full frame equiv.) of the ‘Trio’ is 42mm. This gives me a tiny amount of width, but it behaves more like a standard lens in use. This is fine. The unit is actually quite small in depth, almost pancake like, but fairly ‘girthy’ to allow the housing of three separate lenses. Here it is on an X-T2 (not my picture) …though it actually looks pretty sweet on my X-Pro 2.
The Trio has a fixed aperture of F3.5 on all lens settings. Not super fast, but OK. This being England, high ISO’s are a normal occurrence, and all the Fuji X-Series perform excellently in this respect.
Obviously, there is no AF. Again, no real hinderance as the focus peaking on the X-Pro 2 is pretty good and effective on this lens. In practice, using this lens is like using any adapted legacy lens (its focus ring is smooth and with just the right amount of tension) – but as you’ve only got one aperture the whole time, your best bet for easy shooting is Auto ISO (or just set it high enough for your weather conditions) and leave the camera in aperture priority.
There are also focus distance indicators (accurate), so hyper focus is actually straight forward and easy if you know what you’re doing. I took this with the lens on 1m. Its not a subject you’ll especially like, I’m sure, but we can talk about about photographers with pious opinions on what I’m allowed to shoot at another time.
So what is this lens suitable for? Well, primarily portraits. You’ll know I am not a portrait photographer in the least, at least not in any traditional sense, but I managed to coax a mate to sit for me – to at least show some willing that I’m not making this review such a hack job. (Its OK, she did have a top on)
This lens is actually REALLY sharp in the centre, with great detail and clarity. This was shot at ISO3200 too, so I was actually really impressed with this optic’s sharp bits. The drop-off is nice as well, just right for close up portraiture like this. In fact, going closer in is where I think the Trio really shines, Its certainly a unique look, and something we APS-C (and smaller) sensor users often have issues with.
This is my sister’s dog shot at 8000ISO:
Again, super sharp where its supposed to be.
Can you use it on the streets? Sure you can…it takes some getting used to, and unless you like to take more staged street stuff, or peoples backs etc etc, I suggest you go the hyper focus route. Its F3.5, so its fairly forgiving if you’re an inch or two off, and obviously there is no lag at all. So have at it.
(This is Yuri. He ‘lives’ outside Pret A Manger on Charing Cross Road. He likes sweet black tea, and ‘Love’ bars…so be kind if you see him)
I like much wider lenses for what I shoot, normally, but I’d consider taking this out again for a street session. I really do like the effect the ‘Sweet’ setting gives me, and as mentioned previously, the ‘Twist’ setting WILL get an outing soon enough.
So, I do hope this somewhat lacking review is helpful to those considering a purchase of the Lensbaby Trio. Would I recommend it? Absolutely – its easy and fun to use, gives me a pleasing look (in the Sweet setting!) I can’t easily duplicate in post, and is a well made item thats sharp where it should be and a nice drop off where you expect it . I think its good value too, especially if you can find some usage for the other two settings…put it this way, if I was a portrait shooter, this lens is an obvious choice for most mirrorless users that can manually focus.
Thats about it for now. I do plan on giving this another run out (or two) soon, so may be worth checking back later in the year.
Do please feel free to stop over to my instagram – there won’t be many pictures taken with the Lensbaby – but you may see some stuff that interests, especially if you’re a street shooter.
Be well all.