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First of all, if you’ve never heard of Lensbaby, they manufacture creative effects SLR lenses and accessories to fit your system. The composer is the most popular and versatile lens of the Lensbaby line. It features a tilt lens which you can easily move to the desired angle, lock in place if you wish, and focus using the manual focussing ring. The Composer comes with the double glass optic and a magnetic aperture set. You have full control of the aperture setting by placing the aperture disk of your choice (f/2.8, f/4, f/5.6, f/8, f/11, f/16 or f/22) in front of the lens. The disks are easily removed by using a magnetic wand which is part of the kit.
I have to admit, I’ve always been in awe by some of the images displayed on the Lensbaby website gallery. The dreamy look created by the lens paired with the right subject can make some amazing images.
I received the Lensbaby right after a blizzard here in Minnesota. Living with snow for 5 months every year can make any outdoor photographer a bit stir crazy. I enjoy shooting in the snow and I don’t mind the cold but after several weeks of the white stuff, your creativity can use a little boost. At first I thought that snow would alter the dreamy effect of the Lensbaby given that the blur doesn’t show on white. Yet, I wanted to prove that you can use a special effect lens in the least expected environment. I also believe that, even though the Composer can make any ordinary object look extraordinary, it is important to look for the right subject, scene or action and try to tell a story in a frame.
On first trial, I took the Lensbaby composer back in time to a Victorian Christmas event in town. It takes a lot of trial and error at first to tilt the lens in order to place the sweet spot where you want it, especially when shooting an action. Most of my first shots were done with the lens pointed straight ahead so I could concentrate on the manual focussing. It’s hard to get the full effect of the creative blur in the snow but I particularly like the image of the horse drawn carriage, the time period adds to the dreamy look of the picture.
Then I took the Lensbaby for hikes in the woods and looked for some color in a black and white landscape…
My next step was to try the Lensbaby Composer on smaller subjects I opted for something more colorful and bought some fresh flowers to shoot in ambient light using a tripod and a remote trigger. For the green flowers, I tilted the lens slightly to move the sweet spot off center. The effect is quite pleasing to the eye and very soft.
Then I experimented with the macro lens attachment which you can purchase separately. The macro kit features a +4 filter and a +10 filter allowing you to focus from 2 to 13 inches (5 to 33 cm) away. You can also attach both to your Composer which is what I did to get this macro shot of a yellow chrysanthemum.
What an amazing little lens, I’m hooked! I find it the perfect tool to let your creativity flow. I realize that some of those effects could be achieved in post processing but nothing beats seeing the desired effect in the field while you are shooting. I am looking forward to spring time and more colorful landscapes to shoot! I also want to experiment with other accessories, including their really cool fisheye optic.
Is the Lensbaby composer going to replace any of the lenses in your camera bag? Probably not.
Is it one of the most creative and fun addition to your gear? Most definitely! You can find out more about Lensbaby products by visiting their website at
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