Lensbaby Composer Mini Review

August 27th, 2009 by Juan A. Pons

I am a realist, at least I used to be.

By realist, I mean that I like to portray my subjects as they are in real life, with as little embellishment and alteration as possible. I think this changed when I recently received a Lensbaby Composer for testing.

I have to be honest and say that at first I was a little skeptical. Yes I have seen examples of images taken with Lensbabies in the past and I always thought that they were interesting, but not really my thing.

Primitive foot path along the Haw River, NC

Primitive foot path along the Haw River, NC

As soon as I received the Lensbaby composer this past Friday, I put it on my Canon 5D MarkII and decided to use it exclusively for the entire weekend. No matter how entrenched my thought processes are and how safe I may feel inside my photographic comfort zone, I am always interested in trying new things, experimenting and challenging myself to see things differently. I figured that the best way for me to really get to know this new tool was to immerse myself in it.

I first started shooting some mundane items around the house, like some of my sons stuffed animals, while I got the hang of manipulating the tilt-shift like movements of this lens. I created some interesting images, but nothing that really struck my fancy. In an attempt at creating some more interesting images. I proceeded to chase my son around and make some images of him, and while he is used to having a camera pointed at him, he just did not feel like it this time.
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So far my experience had been very unrewarding, so I decided to go and shoot what I shoot best, the outdoors, nature, wildlife. I decided to pack light, very light and just took my camera with the Lensbaby Composer, a small tripod, a remote shutter release and a microphone, and headed down to one of my favorite locations just steps from my house; the Haw River.

With it’s seldom travelled foot paths, plenty of rock formations and scores of wildlife, I knew the Haw River would provide plenty of opportunities to put the Composer thru its paces within my specialty.

For someone like me, who enjoys nature in an unadulterated and undistorted fashion, it took a bit to start “envisioning” the world thru the lens of a Lensbaby; pun intended. Undaunted, I kept at it and experimented as much as I could, I tried all the different aperture rings, which essentially, control the size of the “sweet spot.” I also played with shifting the center of this “sweet spot” by “swinging” the lens, which isolates and brings attention and focus to a specific area of the image. The more I experimented the more I started to get it as I slowly began to “see” like the Lensbaby.

Haw River, NC

Haw River, NC

Very soon I started to get excited and try all sorts of different subjects, from the very primitive path I was walking on, to some of the rock and water features on the river. I quickly then turned my thoughts to video. As the new Canon 5D MarkII takes spectacular HD video alongside stills, it proved to be an excellent way to test the look the Lensbaby offered on some video footage. I have to admit that I really liked the selective focus effect the Lensbaby offers on the video. Not something to be used every day, but very effective when trying to convey a moody or dreamy effect.

A few more technical observations: I am not sure why, but found my camera meter to read a little too hot when shooting stills, so I had to dial down the exposure compensation a bit. This Lensbaby Composer features a 37mm thread, which can be used with the myriad of accessories available or with any other standard filters in this size. I myself may need to try their Super Wide Angle Conversion Lens as well as a few neutral density filters for better exposure control on sunny days.

[vimeo width="600" height="338"]http://vimeo.com/5918602[/vimeo]

I have to confess that I am really enjoying this Lensbaby and consider myself a convert, and as difficult as it may be to find the room, it will find a permanent space in my camera bag.

You can check out the entire Lensbaby line in the OPG store.

I hope you found this information useful, and as always, if you have any questions or comments use the comments section below or you can reach me via twitter at http://twitter.com/jpons.

Juan

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