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I wanted to try out the Lensbaby. The initial range has Muse and the Spark. Spark being the newer one has a lot of documentation and reviews on the net and is cheaper too. But Muse on the other hand is a bit older but may be better as it is placed at a higher price range. As its a new breed of lens, I'm not able to make out the capabilities and differences between these two lenses just by looking at the specifications on their website. Both are within my price range, I just want to know which one is a more bang for my buck!

I know this question won't help anybody in their skills, but it's rather buying advice, but I don't know where else to ask!

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I think this kind of equipment question is fine: it's not just "tell me what lens to buy", but rather "help me understand the non-obvious difference between these two things". (And unlike with camera bodies, there aren't a dozen big sites doing that comparison in depth already.) –  mattdm Nov 29 '12 at 16:32

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The Lensbaby Spark is the lowest priced way to get into a Lensbaby piece of equipment. Right now the MSRP is $80 USD. The LensBaby Muse on the other hand is around $150USD. You would think for those savings you would be missing something, and you are right. The Muse comes with the Lensbaby Double Glass Optic, the Spark does not. Believe it or not, the Lensbaby Double Glass Optic costs $80USD on it's own, so it is pretty much a wash if you are going to buy the Spark to later upgrade and buy the Double Glass Optic.

What this really means is that with the Spark you are limited to a single aperture of f/5.6. On the Muse for example they note aperture values of f/2, f/2.8, f/4, f/5.6, f/8. Something doesn't quite add up for me, as the Double Glass Optic that comes with the Muse notes fewer apertures then the stand alone Double Glass Optic, so potentially they include fewer of the magnetic discs(control aperture) with the Muse then if you buy the optic alone.

What else is different besides the optic and aperture control? The Muse is has many more mount options, so if you aren't Canon or Nikon mount, the Muse might be your only option. Ascetically they are a bit different, the Spark has a huge ring with see through lettering - not my favorite. The Lensbaby lenses aren't really meant to look professional either though, you are going to be fidgeting with them and look kind of ridiculous no matter what - unless you have the Sweet optic 35 I guess.

Anther potential difference is how sharp these get. The Spark will do a good job of selectively focusing an area, or blurring out the outer edges of the image - but I do not believe it will get anything in very sharp focus. The Double Glass Optic can get things in good sharp focus, but I am guessing the Spark is more like the Single Glass Optic which really isn't sharp or great contrast on anything.

If you want to know bang for your buck, I'd get the Spark. It's half of the price and will do selective focus well. It is fun and might bring out your creativity. If you want sharp optics in a similar range that has a variable aperture, I would get a 50mm f/1.8 lens - that is a great bang for your buck in a similar focal length but with great sharp optics when considering the price.

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Hmmm; the specs say "Optic: multi-coated glass doublet". I bet it's optically the same, and they've just cut costs by removing the aperture swap system. –  mattdm Nov 29 '12 at 16:26
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Incidentally, I've found f/5.6 to be a versatile and useful aperture for the Lensbaby. I often drop that in mine when I go out and leave the aperture rings and swap tool stowed away. –  mattdm Nov 29 '12 at 16:30
    
@mattdm - It is really hard to tell by the specs, I wouldn't expect tack sharp from either, but the difference between them is hard to say without a real world test. Not sure, but they appear to be different :) –  dpollitt Nov 29 '12 at 16:37
    
Also of interest: the Spark description notes that it's not recommended with the heavier optics (Sweet 35, Fisheye and Edge 80), whereas the Muse carries no such warning. I don't know if they would actually make that recommendation but haven't updated the Muse page, or if the Spark is actually slightly more flexible. I actually swapped my Muse for an older Lensbaby 2.0 because I found its squeeze action to be stiff (and squeaky!) compared to the older version (which has no non-changeable). –  mattdm Nov 29 '12 at 16:38
    
@dpollitt - I get what you mean..i already have a 50mm and i love it..thanks for your time..i guess i will go for a spark! –  Vikram Nov 30 '12 at 0:31

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