This is Dan. Dan lives in the rooming house next door to me and he needed a ride to the meat store on Scenic Highway. As my week is dreadfully open (because I was supposed to be on vacation), I was happy to oblige Dan. Apparently, the Capitol Meat Store on Scenic sells all the things a mid-fifties fellow from Chicago needs to get through a few weeks of a Louisiana spring. But, more than my casual interest in going places I have never been before, I was interested in playing around with my Lensbaby Edge 80 Optic.
In many ways it functions like a tilt-shift lens, but it is basically like other Lensbaby optics in that it can be moved on a pivot allowing you to place the center of focus wherever you want it in the frame. My crude line drawing below should help explain what that means (fingers crossed). The real advantage of the Edge 80 is that at 80mm you begin to get into portrait lens territory, meaning the focal length serves to seemingly compress the image and stack things in the fore, middle and backgrounds together.
Unlike the other focal lengths that Lensbaby makes (35mm and 50mm) the Edge 80 is less likely to create blurred streaks when adjusted to its far edges. In short, the Edge 80 lets you really isolate portions of your subject that would simply not be possible without either post-processing or a very expensive tilt-shift lens. After just a few minutes shooting with the Edge 80, I think I have found, in this lens, the right balance of selective focus and clarity, the later of which was somewhat lacking in some earlier Lensbaby designs.
The Edge 80, and its sister optic the Sweet 35, are a bit more expensive and refined (they have the aperture incorporated into them for one) than the standard 50mm Lensbaby optical family, but the Edge 80 really shines when it comes to focus and resolution. Of the Lensbaby products I have used, it is the easiest to achieve predictable results with and the easiest with which to pull sharp focus.
From what I have seen so far, it is a heck of lens. Like a tilt-shift, you can change the plane of focus from a vertical plane a given distance from the photographer to a triangle that extends from an ever-widening point wherever the camera happens to be. Again, the crappy drawing may help explain what this all means.
I could go on about my love of hand-painted sign and peculiar optical effects achieved in-camera, but I need to play around with this lens a bit more. So, thanks Dan. Thanks Scenic Highway. And thank Capitol Meat Store. It was a pleasant little drive past the chemical plants.