Full Review: Lensbaby Sol 45mm f/3.5 "Tilt-Shift" / by Ryan Brenizer

Read the tech detail here and check prices here

I don't buy much gear on a whim, but when Lensbaby announced a 45mm "tilt-shift" for $200, I looked at my badly broken and nearly $2,000 Nikon 45mm PC-E and said … "Maaaaybe I'll give this a try."

That was 15 minutes ago.

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Ok, this is glib -- and very precise. There are plenty of ways to make compelling images with this lens. It just depends on your needs. We use selective focus rarely, as it is best in small doses, but have had a lot of fun with the new ways of seeing control over the angle of the focal plane can give you. We use it for details on occasion and need the control for creative use in portraiture or relatively static coverage such as ceremonies or getting ready.

The good news is that you can actually do this to some extent -- focusing on areas closer to you and farther away. The bad news is that it is a liberal definition of "focus." I did not expect critical sharpness but we need a certain level of it to shoot details, and on this lens even basic sharpness -- not necessarily reading words on a page but seeing that there are words to begin with -- can only be achieved in certain areas, such as the center or the closer side of the tilt. This takes away tons and tons of even the basic usage of a real tilt-shift for us.

Well, it was fun while it lasted. Astonishingly there are trade-offs when you cut nearly 90 percent off the price of a lens.