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Lensbaby Sol 45 brings on the blur

The company's entry-level special effects lens has some interesting niche uses for the money

Lori Grunin
I've been reviewing hardware and software, devising testing methodology and handed out buying advice for what seems like forever; I'm currently absorbed by computers and gaming hardware, but previously spent many years concentrating on cameras. I've also volunteered with a cat rescue for over 15 years doing adoptions, designing marketing materials, managing volunteers and, of course, photographing cats.
Lori Grunin
Lensbaby Sol 45
1 of 8 Sarah Tew/CNET

Manual blades

You can move the two effect-blades into the frame as much or as little as you want, independently of each other. The ring they're on rotates as well.

Lensbaby Sol 45
2 of 8 Sarah Tew/CNET

Blades

The manual blades create a more swirly bokeh when flipped all the way in, but it's hard to get anything in focus.

Lensbaby Sol 45
3 of 8 Sarah Tew/CNET

Just the edges

You're probably best off setting them to just distort the area around the subject.

Lensbaby Sol 45
4 of 8 Sarah Tew/CNET

Focus

The manual focus ring feels relatively precise with nice tension.

Lensbaby Sol 45
5 of 8 Sarah Tew/CNET

Compact and sturdy

The lens has a pancake profile and is made of metal (except for the mount).

Lensbaby Sol 45
6 of 8 Sarah Tew/CNET

Tilt

You can tilt the lens in any direction.

Lensbaby Sol 45
7 of 8 Sarah Tew/CNET

Focus ring

The focus ring moves in and out, something you might have to get used to if you typically use internal focus lenses.

Lensbaby Sol 45
8 of 8 Sarah Tew/CNET

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