Lensbaby Control Freak

Focal length: ~50mm, selective focus lens
Mount: Pentax
Min focus distance: 0.50m
Aperture: F 2.0 - F 22 via insertable disks
Length (from flange): ~ 70mm
[+ 26mm for the adapter]
Diameter: ~ 80mm
Weight: 170gr.

Lensbaby Control Freak lens lets you control the shift of the lens precisely to the mm with its 3 screw controls. It has removable inserts of the "swap" system. It's delivered with a "double glass" lens.

Some pictures:

A Lensbaby Control Freak lens with its Double Glass lens and its cap. To the left: accessory adapter. To the right: "single glass" lens, its box and its container. The base of the container is the so-called swap tool. You will need it to swap the inserts. the 3 humps of the base engage into the gaps on the inserts. A small amount of a turn locks or engages the insert.

A7 and the lens. The lens itself sits deep inside. The 3 screw controls stick out of the front lens mount. The 2 balls under the front lens mount have to be squeezed to release the screw control. There is a lock button on the outside of the front lens mount (not visible in the photo), so you can sqeeze and bend the lens to the disired point, lock it with the button and then fine-tune the lens with the screw controls. The outmost front of the front lens mount can be turned for fine focus via the 3 smaller balls of the fine focussing ring. Note the indication circles on the front lens mount whether the insert is locked or not. It's locked in the picture. The gap of the insert is opposite le "locked" sign.

Lens unit bent sideways.

The aperture disks have to be put in front of the lens and are held by the magnets.

This is a full 7-aperture set with a very handy magnetic tool to change the disks.

There is a 12mm fisheye insert available.

It comes with a rubber cap and its own set of aperture disks. They are marked, the holes are smaller than those in the standard set.

You have to unscrew the the front lens unit to place the aperture disks. BTW: the remaining lens of the insert is usable on its own. It seems to be a standard lens with no blur. No sample pictures from this one yet.

Sample pictures: You may click on the sample image (except closest focus) for full resolution. The full resolution image opens in a new window, so you can keep it open for comparison. I tried to focus is on the satelite dish near the big solar panel in the center of the photo.

Let us start with an aperture series of the "double glass" lens.

F2, just a litle bit of sharpness. The blurred part is very (too) bright.

, a bit more focussed area in the middle, the rest is blurred.

F8, focussed area gets a bit bigger...

F16. Sharp in the center, blurred edges, the desired effect of this lens. It was a sunny day indeed, but there is too much overcast. The lens is coated, but there is not enough contrast. Bear in mind that this is only a double lens, a simple Tessar has 4 lenses, a Sonnar 6 or 7. Obviously the lens cannot deal with very bright light.

F2 again, lens bent to the left.

F2, bent to the right.

F2, lens bent down.

F2, lens bent down and camera directed downwards. Contrast gets better as there is a lesser part of the bright sky.

F4, still further down. Nearly no bright sky in the picture. Contrast is fine.

Close focus, no full resolution picture:

Closest focus of the lens is about 50cm from outermost edge of the lens, F 8. Focus on the program wheel of the camera.

The "double glass" lens has an overcast problem. Compared to the lens of the Lensbaby 2.0 it's much worse. Now let's see the results of the "single glass" lens:

F2, nothing really sharp at all. Same type of overcast as the "double glass" lens.

F4. There was a cloud passing at the very moment. So it really seems to be the sun which causes the problem.


F8. Some more sharpness in the center.


F16. Still overcast and a second optical problem, a large bright spot in the center, it looks like stray light in a lens tube of an old non-coated lens.

Close facus. No full resolution picture.

Closest focus of the lens is about 50cm from outermost edge of the lens, F 8. Focus on the program wheel of the camera. Total overcast, although this is an inside photo.

The "single glass" lens has a severe overcast problem, it's even worse than the "double glass" lens. Compared to the lens of the Lensbaby 2.0 it's not good at all.

This is a fun photo lens, called
selective focus lens. It's a PVC tube which can be squeezed and bent to focus, this one it can be fixed at any angle. So it is much more precise than other lensbabies, its name "control freak" is well chosen. The lenses are inserts and can be changed, there is quite a choice, including a pinhole.The lenses are set to be sharp only at the center, the rest is blurred, simulating perfectly a "bokeh" effect. The sharp spot (called sweet spot) can be shifted in any direction. It covers full format. The lens is soft to blurry at full aperture. Closed down it's becoming sharper, but retains blurred edges. The glass lens inserts are a deception.

And a general warning: squeezing and releasing the lens aspires dust into your camera which can spoil your sensor. Zoom lenses do the same, but in general they are well protected against dust passing inside via an elaborate seal system. The lensbabies are simple constructions without much dust sealing. So squeeze with care and clean your sensor in case of.

The lens is nevertheless sturdy. It is easy to use after some learning. It's fun to experiment with its possibilities. I found mine for very cheap, so it was worth a try. In no way would I have payed the original price, my second hand Mamiya RB67 150mm soft focus lens with all disks was cheaper. Buying further inserts is still very expensive. But if you come across a set for a reasonable price, try it out. It's fun.