Review: Lensbaby 0.42x Super Wide Angle Lens
By Corey Shelton
Before adding the 0.42x Super Wide Angle Angle Conversion Lens to your camera bag, let me first suggest that you purchase a large bib to catch your own drool as you shoot with this new Lensbaby family addition.
When I was first handed the lens, I knew nothing of its specs, so abiding by man-law, I immediately regressed into my “I don’t read manuals” self and began to play, easily screwing the adapter into the 50mm Composer via its 37mm metal thread.
After a quick view of how wide the now 21mm Composer seemed, I was then taken aback by the discovery of the lens’ macro capability, which Lensbaby claims to be up to 2.75 (7cm) inches. So, with the ability to now go wider and closer, along with Lensbaby’s inherent sweet spot and blurring features, it was fairly easy to get the creative juices flowing with thoughts of using the accessory for both product and food photography. Hence, the drool.
One noticeable contrasting element of this lens is its construction. Compared to the Composer, which is made of plastic and aluminum components, the 0.42x Super Wide Angle is a compact metal accessory with a nice weighty feel (nearly two-thirds the weight of the Composer).
In testing the adapter, I wanted to gauge the impact of the lens on objects near and far. For the sake of consistency, I shot the first four images with the Composer pointed straight on in order to provide a comparison as close to apples-to-apples as possible.
This is a view outside of PPA headquarters. The 50mm focal length of the Composer provides what you would expect in a Lensbaby shot with deep perspective. The chromatic aberration or “enhanced blurring,” as Lensbaby brands it, is not as hard as when I attach the 0.42 Super Wide Angle Conversion Lens.
With the appreciably wider view, notice that the Sweet Spot feels smaller and the enhanced blurring begins to resemble a type of tunneling or motion blur effect, as if one is being thrust into the image. I used a Nikon D1X to shoot these, so you can see vignetting on the left corners of the image (on full-frame cameras, vignetting is eliminated when shooting with the accessory pointed straight ahead.)
Shifting my focus to food, I chose to quickly snap a plate of homemade linguini with pesto before it got cold.
Starting with the Composer only and now shooting on a tripod, I measured a distance of 5.5 inches from the point of focus on the pasta to the front of the lens. Obviously, being so much closer than the Composer’s 18-inch minimum focus range, the camera rendered this glob of green deliciousness.
Adding the 0.42x Super Wide Angle Conversion Lens gave me new reason to drool, Homer Simpson-style.
Without moving the camera, the now 21mm lens captures a nice wide look at the dish. The enhanced blurring, along with the roundness of the plate, contributed to a spinning, almost dizzying effect. Now just think of what you could do with this accessory when you begin to tilt the Lensbaby!
Lastly, I wanted to see just how close I could get with the lens. I think the good folks over at Lensbaby may be practicing a little modesty, because I was able to get inside their stated 2.75 inches to capture this closeup at 2 inches from the front of the lens.
My conclusion on the Lensbaby 0.42x Super Wide Angle Conversion Lens … a definite keeper.
The 21mm view and the macro ability should really excite those who’ve fantasized about having an expensive tilt/shift lens, but now need drop only $79.95 on this wonderful accessory.
Corey Shelton is the PPA Director of Web Strategies and a professional photographer.