Lensbaby 3G review: Lensbaby 3G

To unlock the front element, you squeeze together two balls on the bottom of the rim around the front element.

In addition to the locking rails, the Lensbaby 3G also has a focus ring, though it has a pretty small turning radius and is rather loose compared to most SLR lenses, so it's easy to overadjust, especially if you're not used to it. Plus, the Lensbaby 3G offers eight possible apertures, from f/2.0 to f/22, compared to the four and five possible apertures, respectively, for the Original Lensbaby and the Lensbaby 2.0, both of which offered a minimum of f/8. Like the Lensbaby 2.0, the Lensbaby 3G's aperture discs mount magnetically. While this is more convenient than the rubber gaskets on the Original Lensbaby, changing apertures still requires switching a disc that sits in front of the front lens element. If Mr. Strong could figure out a cost-effective way to build in an aperture blade mechanism with an aperture-ring control, such as the ones found on some Nikon lenses and all lenses that predate electronic aperture controls, then he'd be a major step closer to creating the ultimate, low-cost, selective focus SLR lens.

Of course, as it stands he's pretty close. Compared with the first two generations, the Lensbaby 3G is a dream to operate. The locking mechanism and focus ring make the Lensbaby experience less of crapshoot, though you can still mimic the classic experience if you crave the uncertainty of the first two generations. Since the company is obviously rather small, Lensbabies can be tough to find at some online retailers, but you can order the Lensbaby 3G directly from the Lensbabies online store. If you're not used to the cost associated with SLR lenses, or even if you are, you may balk at the $270 price tag in the company's online store, but given its complex design, its quality construction, and the addictively fun experience of using one, it does seem worth the cost.

Don't Miss


Discuss Lensbaby 3G (Minolta Maxxum / Sony Alpha mount)

Conversation powered by Livefyre