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Lensbaby Composer Interchangeable Lens Review

Matt Grayson doesn't have a sweet spot like the Lensbaby Composer because he's too ticklish.

|  Lensbaby Composer in Interchangeable Lenses
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Lensbaby increase their range of easy-to-manipulate tilt/shift lenses to three with the most adaptable version yet.Lensbaby Composer

Lensbaby Composer: Specification
  • Lens: Multi-coated Optical Glass Doublet
  • Focal Length: Approx. 50mm
  • Focus Type: Manual
  • Aperture Type: interchangeable magnetic discs
  • Apertures: f/2, f/2.8, f/4, f/5.6, f/8, f/11, f/16, f/22
  • Minimum Focus: 45cm-infinity
  • Size: 57x63.5mm
  • Weight: 104g
  • Mounts: Canon EF, Nikon F, Sony Alpha A/Minolta Maxxum, Samsung GX, Olympus E1/Panasonic DMC
Lensbaby Composer: Features
Building on the 3G version that ePHOTOzine reviewed in September 2007, a major improvement has been made to the idea of the earlier model. That's not to say that the Composer is replacing the 3G. In fact, it's an addition to the team making it three strong currently.

The 3G has three screw thread arms that are able to lock the lens into place for precise sweetspot shots whereas the Muse had problems with this because it had to be handheld. That said, it was much faster to use the Muse because you didn't have to lock the “bellows” in place.

Lensbaby ComposerThe Composer's design is based on a ball and socket which makes using it smoother, more precise and it'll stay where it should without having to continue to squeeze it or lock it in place.

There's also a manual ring  for fine tuning the focus which will be useful when using the more precise aperture rings.

As usual, the lens comes with a selection of aperture rings that are placed into the lens with a supplied magnetic pick-up tool.

Interestingly, Lensbaby say you can use a DSLR in aperture-priority mode and still get TTL-metering except on certain cameras. Most are Nikon and include older models such as the D70 but also newer models such as the D60 and D90. Other models include the Kodak 14N, ProN and Fuji S1, S2 and S3.

Lensbaby Composer: Performance
Apart from not really having a decent close focusing distance, the Lensbaby can cope with everything you throw at it which means most photographers should be able to find a creative use for it.

Setting the sweet spot into the centre gives the sharpest results and as the spot is moved further to the edge of the frame the blurred area gives more of a speed filter effect. It can look quite appealing in the right circumstances but could look tardy in others.
Lensbaby Composer
Focusing in the centre is sharpest and sends everything around it out of focus. This was taken using the f/2.8 aperture ring.
Lensbaby Composer
Adapting the lens to the right side of the frame and I've focused on the Zeiss Ikon insignia on the folding bracket. The out of focus area looks similar to a speed filter.
Lensbaby Composer: Verdict
It's the most easily used of the three lenses in the range as the ball and socket system will stay where it is allowing you time to focus quicker and get the shot sooner. You don't have to rely on keeping the lens in place yourself and you don't have to waste time locking the lens in place.

Lensbabies are taking off and I think the great thing about them is that they produce a radical image while at the same time making you slow down and think about the photograph. Like pinhole photography, the types of photographs usually taken with a Lensbaby are quirky and bizarre.

Lensbaby Composer: Plus points
Easily manipulated
Good build quality
Smooth movement
TTL metering

Lensbaby Composer: Minus points
No close focusing
Pricey for amount of use it'll probably get




The Lensbaby Composer is available in various fittings, costs around £184 and is available from Warehouse Express here:

Lensbaby Composer

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Paul Morgan 19 19.5k 6 England
25 May 2009 6:31PM
If your going to add TTL metering as a plus point you may as well add image stabilisation Smile
Pete Plus
19 18.8k 97 England
4 Jun 2009 12:47AM
Having spent some time with it I'll add a few points. I've been a fan of this kind of photography for a long time and was very enthusiastic when the first lens baby appeared. The limited system of push, pull and hold was difficult to use easily and was much improved with the 3G and it's locking method. But this version takes the benefit of the first one's speed and the 3g's precision, making it really easy to use. This gives you a chance to concentrate more on getting the composition and adjustment spot on.

The aperture discs are now marked too so it's easier to determine exposure, and the focusing ring is large and easy to adjust.

I wish they would incorporate an aperture system to save faffing with the disks, and the small pouch it comes with needs to be a few millimetres wider in diameter so it slips in and out easier.
Paul Morgan 19 19.5k 6 England
9 Jun 2009 9:28PM
Its just a shame its not yet readily available in all mounts Sad

The optic swap systems a major plus for added creativity and although I use both the 2.0 and 3G on the odd occasion this lens would make a great addition.

I`ve been experimenting with hand held time-lapse, and its hard work with the 2.0 Smile

Also a lot of fun can be had using the creative apertures, ready made or those you cut yourself.
MattGrayson 13 622 3 England
26 Jan 2010 10:39AM

Quote:If your going to add TTL metering as a plus point you may as well add image stabilisation

I could do if you use a Sony... Smile

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