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Lensbaby LM-10 Sweet Spot Lens for Mobile review: Lensbaby mobile lens more fun than a barrel of filters

Each platform has an app that provides a much better shooting experience than a stock camera app. In conjunction with the lens, Lensbaby's camera app offers the basics. You can select to have the area of focus in the center or move it a bit off-center; lock the white balance and exposure or invoke spot metering; apply a black-and-white or sepia filter; and shoot video or still photos. A slider down the side of the screen allows you to adjust how much sharpening gets applied to the sweet spot.

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The Lensbaby app provides an option to flip the image, because otherwise it displays upside-down on some phones. Lori Grunin/CNET

I enjoying using the LM-10 a lot. It's especially neat for video, and I like setting a focus area and seeing what happens as objects and people move in and out of it. And it's interesting for night shooting: phone photos are generally too noisy and shaky to do much with, but the combination Lensbaby effect and monochrome filters kind of work with that.

Lensbaby plans to sell additional lenses that will be able to magnetically attach to the base lens for combination effects, though I'm not sure when to expect the next one. Soon, I hope.

However, it's not without its problems. First, at least with the iPhone 5S, images look fine scaled down but the inherently bad image noise of that camera becomes amplified when adding a lens (which reduces available light) and performing extra processing on top of the already-processed data that the app receives from the operating system. That's not Lensbaby's fault, though. I'd be interested to see how the system worked with, say, the raw data that, say, the Nokia Lumia 1020 can pass or if the company could update the app to take advantage of iOS 8's expanded camera programming interface access. And there's as-yet no app for Windows Phone devotees.

The price for the Lensbaby LM-10 is low enough and the mount unobtrusive enough -- in many cases -- that I highly recommend it for people looking to enliven their camera photography but still merit a #nofilter.

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