Lensbaby, makers of unique art lenses known for creative, controlled blurring effects that bring photos to life, has a new lens unit in its Optic Swap System. The Composer Pro II with Edge 50 Optic has a new metal-body construction that adds some strength and quality to the design. The tilt-and-swivel mechanism lets you shoot straight lines to create and capture interesting blur effects, using the included 50mm lens with a f/3.2-22 aperture.
“Composer Pro II with Edge 50 builds on the history and success of the original Composer Pro with a look and feel equal to the industrial design of Velvet 56, our high-end classic portrait lens,” says Craig Strong, Lensbaby’s co-founder, in a related statement. “Lensbaby provides the most unique and creative camera lenses anywhere.”
The Edge 50 has a nine-blade aperture for creating smooth bokeh (blurring), with eight glass elements in six groups and an 8-inch minimum focusing distance. With the Composer Pro II’s inter-changeable lens design, users can swap out the 50mm for other, optional Lensbaby creative lenses.
The lens is available with Canon EF, Nikon F, Sony Alpha A and Alpha E, Pentax K, Fujifilm X, Micro Four Thirds, and Samsung NX mounting options, which covers nearly all the popular camera brands. It costs $425.
The Composer Pro II will require some camera experience. It’s a fully manual lens system, so your camera’s autofocus system won’t work. Plus, you may need to play around with your camera’s settings (most cameras can be set in aperture priority), and get creative and play with it under different light. A rotating Locking Ring lets you adjust the tightness of the tilt-and-swivel mechanism.
Once you pick your center of focus, you can turn the focus ring; if your camera has a focus peaking function while in Live View, that can come in handy. Tilting the Composer Pro II lets you reposition the center of focus, and once you settle on one, you can tighten the Locking Ring to fix the position. Again, because there’s no electronic contact, you will also need to adjust the Optic’s aperture and macro manually.
We tried it with an older Canon EOS 60D and found it worked well. It was easier to use the Live View mode on the LCD than through the optical viewfinder. Interestingly, we tried using the lens with a Canon EF-mount adapter on a EOS M3, but the camera refused to take the photo. But the lens, when used effectively (use natural lighting to your advantage), can add some interesting focusing, coloring, and tilt-shift effects to what would otherwise be ordinary photos. It’s a little pricey for what it is; however, it can be used as a regular 50mm lens.
Check out some of these samples from Lensbaby.