Picked up the Lensbaby Composer at the local camera store, Focal Point Photography. Mike is friendly and knowledgeable – and has a great shop in Dallas, Oregon that offers a good selection of new and used competitively priced equipment. If you’re anywhere in the Willamette Valley – I highly recommend stopping by.
As for the LB – I have to admit – when the system first came out – I wanted nothing to do with it. And every time there was a new product announcement – I really just kind of ignored it – thinking it to be a passing fad – something like 8-track tapes. Seriously.
And then came the Composer. And the silly thing looked easy to use. And my days of shooting Holgas and Lomos and hacking a Polaroid into a pinhole all came rushing back to me. And there I was – wanting a challenge. And holding it in my hands – it was like the first cup of morning coffee: “ahhhh – funky optics…”
- The aperture system sure seems like it could be better – something mechanical. Instead, they use this awkward disc / magnet system. Isn’t there some 1973 technology that could be leveraged here for a low cost?
- The lack of autofocus could take some practice – and it’s important that you set your diopter for this. The instructions are vague. All I did was use an autofocus lens set on center focus, focus on an object, and adjust the diopter until the object was at its visibly sharpest point in the view finder.
- Unless you have a great memory, write things down, or only use one aperture – you could be left guessing about your success and failure with depth of field. The exif data will not remind you of your f/stop setting.
- The Lensbaby line has lots of options – but right now I only have the Composer with the multi-coated glass doublet – and if I were to add anything to my system – I might consider the wide angle adapter.
- It’s a prime lens (~50mm). I happen to like prime lenses – but for some – a prime lens is equivalent to bull riding – they want nothing to do with it.
- I find myself shooting between aperture priority and manual mode. As your aperture is set by the magnetic ring -your camera will simply read “0” for aperture.
- The focus point, at least on the doublet, is quite sharp – but everything else falls off rapidly.
- If you decide to pick one up – go out on a couple of shoots without another lens in your bag. Force yourself to learn this lens – it’ll take some practice.
- OK – yes – if you’re savvy with photo software – you can emulate the effect. But, I think it’s more than the effect that’s important here – it becomes a method to approach subjects with the constrained kit.
Is it for everyone? No. That would be like saying everyone should drink eggnog. But, if you’re in a rut and looking for something of a challenge, or really have a desire for out-of-the-ordinary optics – the Composer could fill a corner in your camera bag.