3-in-1 lens brings sweet bokeh to mirrorless cameras

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Just a twist will bring dreamy effects to pictures made with a mirrorless camera.
Just a twist will bring dreamy effects to pictures made with a mirrorless camera.
Photo: Lensbaby

Thanks to a software feature on the iPhone 7 camera, Apple fans are getting familiar with a term once heard in a language only spoken by photographers – bokeh.

It’s a Japanese word that means blur and the bokeh in a photograph refers to the areas that are not in focus. Creamy and dream are the effects when perfectly executed, especially with portraits, where a tack-sharp face pops against a background swirled in colors, light and distorted shapes

Before there was even an iPhone, the art optics company Lensbaby was producing lenses that gave photographers an affordable option to bring maximum bokeh to their work. On Wednesday, Lensbaby introduced a 3-in-1 lens for mirrorless cameras.

The Lensbaby Trio was designed for Fuji X series cameras, Sony mirrorless and Micro 4/3 bodies and, like the name suggests, offers three options that shape the bokeh in your pictures.

Lensbaby
The abandoned home in focus gives way to a softness with the Lensbaby Trio
Photo: Lensbaby

Yes, the iPhone continues its Godzilla-like disruption on sales of conventional cameras, especially with an iPhone 7 Plus that offers a second lens, a telephoto with optical zoom, and improved quality shooting in low-light.

But professionals will always need more dedicated cameras and some shooters are so turned onto photography because of the iPhone that many will graduate to a more sophisticated camera.

Mirrorless cameras are slowly growing in popularity with professionals and hobbyists alike. The lack of a mirror mechanism allows manufacturers to design smaller, lighter and quieter cameras. Many revival the DSLRs made by Canon and Nikon in picture quality and the two photo brand giants have been scrambling recently to bring mirrorless cameras to market.

The Trio will be available for purchase on the Lensbaby website and other Lensbaby-authorized retailers later this month for $279.95 and buyers will have to specify which mirrorless camera they shoot with. The Trio lens has a fixed aperture of f/3.5 and the Lensbaby website features a compatibility guide to show how to set the various cameras to accommodate its lenses.

Lensbaby
Nothing in the background to distract the viewer from the eyes of this dog.
Photo: Lensbaby

A wide aperture creates a shallow depth of field, which produces the bokeh effect but aberrations in optics, which Lensbaby lenses offer by design, also impact the out-of-focus areas. Lensbaby was started by a photographer who was looking for ways to get the bokeh look found on more expensive lenses, like tilt-shifts or glass where the aperture dips well below f/2.8.

The three settings on the Trio are named for popular effects coined by Lensbaby. Twist provides a spinning, twisty bokeh surrounding a large central focus area.Velvet gives a central area focus with a subtle glow from edge-to-edge. Sweet creates an increasingly gradual blur radiating from the point of focus.

Lensbaby
The Sweet setting on the Trio brings a painterly quality to this landscape.
Photo: Lensbaby