Lens­ball Pro

Andy West­lake tries out a cre­ative pho­tog­ra­phy aid

Amateur Photographer - - Testbench -

£29.99 www.lens­ball.com

This has got to be some kind of a joke, right? On a page where we cover the lat­est, most use­ful pho­to­graphic ac­ces­sories, this week it’s a crys­tal ball? If this is what you’re think­ing, then I un­der­stand your scep­ti­cism. I had much the same re­ac­tion on be­ing of­fered a Lens­ball for re­view, espe­cially given its hy­per­bolic tagline ‘ The Ul­ti­mate Pho­to­graphic Ac­ces­sory’. But ac­tu­ally, af­ter us­ing one for a while, I’ve de­cided that there’s more to it than you might think.

Un­like any­thing else we re­view here, the Lens­ball won’t help you take bet­ter pho­tos by keep­ing your cam­era steady, en­hanc­ing the light or pro­tect­ing your kit. In­stead, it goes into your pic­tures to form part of the com­po­si­tion. It’s an op­ti­cally per­fect crys­tal- glass ball that acts some­what like a fish­eye lens, form­ing a su­per­wide view of the world that’s up­side down and re­flected left-to-right. Pho­tograph­ing the im­age formed by the Lens­ball, with the same scene out- of-fo­cus in the back­ground, can give some re­ally in­ter­est­ing re­sults.

But here’s the thing – you re­ally have to work at it. You can’t just drop it into any old shot; both the Lens­ball and the back­ground have to work to­gether. This means find­ing a way of plac­ing the ball so it pro­duces a co­her­ent com­po­si­tion, then pho­tograph­ing it us­ing the right lens and set­tings.

As a re­sult, shoot­ing with the Lens­ball be­comes a con­scious ex­er­cise in cre­ativ­ity. First, you need a panoramic scene that’ll look suf­fi­ciently in­ter­est­ing. Sec­ond, you need to find some­where to place the Lens­ball where it won’t roll away, as balls are wont to do. Third, you need to de­cide whether to shoot at widean­gle and in­clude the whole scene twice, or at tele­photo to ab­stract a com­ple­men­tary back­ground. And here’s the key: think­ing your way through these chal­lenges should then have a pos­i­tive knock- on ef­fect about how you frame your pho­tog­ra­phy as a whole.

It’s pos­si­ble to find much cheaper globes on­line, how­ever Lens­ball says that it uses ex­pen­sive, top- qual­ity lead crys­tal glass for the best op­ti­cal qual­ity. Hav­ing had mine flagged up as a sus­pi­cious ob­ject by a Eurostar X-ray scan­ner, I can vouch for the fact that it’s no run- of-the- mill glass.

Ver­dict

Two sizes Along­side the 80mm ‘Pro’ model, Lens­ball also sells a 60mm ‘Pocket’ ver­sion that weighs 250g. It’s easy to think that we can im­prove our pho­tog­ra­phy by up­grad­ing our kit, but some­times we also need to work on im­prov­ing the way we see. The beauty of the Lens­ball is that it en­cour­ages pre­cisely this. You cer­tainly won’t use it in ev­ery shot, but it can en­cour­age you to look on the world in a more cre­ative way.

Neatly packed An at­trac­tive pre­sen­ta­tion box keeps the Lens­ball safe dur­ing tran­sit. Mi­crofi­bre pouch The Lens­ball comes with a soft pouch with a draw­string clo­sure, to keep it clean and free of fin­ger­prints. Shoot­ing with Lens­ball ex­er­cises your cre­ativ­ity

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