Today, we’re giving something that goes along with the last item in that series: a camera lens. But hey, this certainly isn’t just a camera lens. We’re giving away a special lens that lets you take super special images. What’s this lens called? Why, it’s the Lensbaby Composer Pro, of course!
Yes, we are giving away the Lensbaby Composer Pro with Double Glass Optic (Canon dSLR mount) lens to one of our readers (maybe you can meet up with whoever got the Canon T4i and put your prizes together). Overall, it’s a fantastic little lens which will allow for creative shots, but I wouldn’t use it all the time. There are several pros and cons for sure, but you won’t know about them until you read this article, right? Let’s get in there and see what the Lensbaby Composer Pro has to offer.
We’re also giving this review unit away. So stick around after the review to find out how to win this Lensbaby!
Price and the Lensbaby Composer Pro’s competition
The Lensbaby Composer Pro comes out to be a whopping $300 with Double Glass Optic Specs (which is what we have), and it goes up a little to $400 when you add on the Sweet 35 Optic Specs. Seeing that it is incredibly unique, it was actually a little hard to find any competition. Based entirely on the Lensbaby system, this particular lens is priced a tad steeper than the Composer ($200), the Muse ($150), and the Scout ($250). However, the Double Optic Specs model is a little cheaper than the Lensbaby Control Freak ($350).
Now, seeing this is a lens with creative distortion, where it allows you to focus on a specific area, blurring out other parts; there is a limited market.However, there are a few other companies like Lomography that offers products which provide other creative effects. With Lomography, you end up buying entire toy cameras without interchangeable lenses. One such camera is the Diana F+ ($89) which creates actual Instagram-like film photos. Another one is the Fisheye No. 2 ($75) which provides photos in a similar style, but in this case, it comes with a lovely, bulgy twist. However, they still do not offer the type of image that the Composer Pro creates.
Understandably, there may be a little bit of confusion as to whether or not the Lensbaby Composer Pro is a tilt/shift lens or not. However, you’ll notice that Composer Pro blurs and stretches the image inward, while a tilt/shift lens selectively focuses portions of the image (similar to the Composer) and creates a “miniaturing” effect. Along with a few other visual and mechanical distinctions, one can tell that the Composer Pro isn’t a tilt/shift lens at all. However, if you add on the Lensbaby Optics Edge 80 to the Composer Pro ($300), the Composer Pro can be transformed into a relatively inexpensive tilt/shift lens.
The packaging of the Lensbaby Composer Pro with Double Glass Optic was quite professional – small and simple, but definitely professional. In no way did it feel cheap. Furthermore, when I first opened the package, I felt that the Composer Pro itself was quite sturdy. It has metal pieces, and its swiveling components felt long-lasting. In all truth, I was fairly pleased with my initial hands-on interaction with the lens.
However, after diving into the Composer Pro a little more, I was a little uneasy. For instance, the lens is manual, and when I mean manual, I mean that in order to switch the aperture, you literally have to take out aperture rings with a magnet to change them. Not the “clicky-clicky” vintage lens kind of manual. This is “let’s take apart the lens and see what kind of cool things we can make” kind of manual. Right off the bat, I immediately thought of how that could be problematic. Losing pieces was the main issue that came to mind.
Granted, it would have been unfair for me to base my entire view of the lens off this. So after looking at the lens and then setting it aside, I decided that I simply just did not know what to think.
The Lensbaby Composer Pro is not made with practical photography in mind at all. Do not expect to be taking it to family get-togethers or vacations simply because it will not provide the types of photos that you want. I mean, unless you want photos with half of Grandma’s face blurred out, then be my guest… Additionally, its practicality goes out the window with its need to change aperture rings using a magnetic stick. Do you really want to have to do that whenever the light changes outside at the 25th annual family reunion? No. No you don’t.
The Composer Pro is ideal for creative, artistic shots where the user would want to highlight a specific part of a frame. For instance, consider pictures of fruit. You could focus on the fruit while the rest of the photo is blurred out. However, this seems to be about the only trick that the lens can pull off (or at least this is it’s only intended trick). I can see where it could be used every once in a while, but for an entire photo session? Eh. I don’t know.
I want to reinforce the fact that this lens is totally manual. This means that there is no electronic communication with the camera body whatsoever. Although this goes without saying (and I doubt you would even want to use it) there is no autofocus with this lens. With that said, the autofocus would kind of defeat the purpose of the lens, wouldn’t it? Below, we have some specs:
- Available in mounts for these SLR cameras: Canon EF (EOS), Nikon F, Sony Alpha A / Minolta Maxxum, Pentax K / Samsung GX, Olympus E1 cameras.
- Available in mounts for these mirrorless cameras: Samsung NX, Panasonic Lumix G Micro System, Olympus PEN, and Sony NEX digital cameras.
- Refined metal ball design delivers ultra-smooth focus and tilt control
- Ships with either the Sweet 35 Optic or Double Glass Optic installed
- Compatible with the Lensbaby Optic Swap System
- Focus Type: Manual
- Size/Weight: 2.25” (5.71cm) high x 2.5” (6.35cm) wide / 4 oz (113.4g)
- Tilts from zero to 17.5 degrees
Don’t get me wrong – this is a nifty lens for creating artistic shots. It could be used in a variety of ways (because every trick can be modified). Furthermore, it has a great sharp image. However, I wouldn’t say that this is for the hobbyist photographer.
Living With The Lensbaby Composer Pro
You wouldn’t bring a knife to a gun fight, but that isn’t to say a knife isn’t great for other things. Like chopping onions… or maybe even spreading butter on bread. (Let’s ignore the whole “gun fight” statement.) The same goes for this particular lens. The Lensbaby Composer Pro just isn’t practical, but it is great for specific purposes.
Usage of this lens is simple. After putting in the appropriate aperture (based on the current light situation and depth of field desired, of course), you should point the lens at the subject in frame. When I say point, I don’t mean point your camera like you usually would. The Lensbaby Composer Pro has a swiveling mechanism that allows you to aim it at certain angles. This is a pretty nifty feature, actually.
For instance, there a few types of photos you can take with this. You guys know what shallow depth of field is, right? Great! With the Lensbaby Composer Pro, using one of the wide aperture rings, you can get a shallow depth of field of your subject, and then after that, you can distort that already-blurred portion of the screen. With proper lighting, that can create a beautiful photo.
After pointing the lens at the the in-frame subject (dubbed the “Sweet Spot”), you should focus on it. Seeing how this lens purposefully takes nearly half the image (distributed into different parts of the frame) and puts it out of focus, that may be a little troublesome. However, I’m sure that you’ll get the hang of it.
Should you buy it?
Overall, I would say this is a great lens… for specific purposes. You should get it only if you want a specific style of shot. I think it’s a great item to keep in the camera bag, but you should only pull it out when you really need it. But paying $300 for a piece of equipment that you’d rarely use is less than ideal.
MakeUseOf Recommends: Don’t buy it (unless you want to use it for uber-creative shots).
Well, it might not have worked out for us but the Lensbaby Composer Pro with Double Glass Optic is still a great, creative lens to own. So if you’d like to give it a go, join the competition below!
How do I win the Lensbaby Composer Pro?
Step 1: Fill in the giveaway form
Please fill in the form with your real name and email address so that we can get in touch if you are chosen as a winner.
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This giveaway begins now and ends Friday, August 24th. The winners will be selected at random and informed via email.
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