If you've never heard of a Lensbaby, then the company's latest product, the Lensbaby 3G, might just seem strange. The original Lensbaby was just a simple two-element (one front, one back) lens with a plastic bellows between the two elements, so you could move the front element to throw part of an image out of focus, while another part remained focused. That first version, and the one that followed it, also relied on the bellows action for focus, and since you couldn't lock the front element in place, shooting sharp images became something of a game. Those first two versions were a major hit among photographers, even pros, since the images have a kitschy quality that's reminiscent of artsy Holga photos.
The newest Lensbaby has added a locking mechanism, so you can easily replicate a specific effect, as well as a focusing ring, so you can fine-tune your focus after you've tilted the front element to your liking. Plus, since three screws lock the tilt, you can also turn them after you've locked it to fine-tune the tilt. Like the 2G Lensbaby, the 3G version comes with interchangeable aperture discs that can be placed in front of the front element to manually change the Lensbaby's aperture. The 3G comes with six aperture discs to allow seven possible apertures ranging from f/2 to f/22. Lensbabies also offer wide-angle (0.6X) and telephoto (1.6X) adapter lenses, as well as a wide-angle/macro accessory lens for close-up shooting. The Lensbaby 3G is available in Canon EF, Nikon F, Sony Alpha/Minolta Maxxum, Pentax K, Four Thirds (Olympus and Panasonic), and Leica R mounts for $270. You can order the Lensbaby 3G now directly from Lensbabies or look for it to hit stores in October.