The Lensbaby Composer — A Quick ’n’ Dirty Review


We’ve been trying out the Lensbaby* Composer lately: it’s an odd little lens that gives you a moveable area of sharp focus, surrounded by a dreamy halo of blurriness.

After knocking around with it for a few weeks, here’s what we think:

The Good:

  • Easier to focus and sharper optics than the original Lensbaby.
  • Easier to move the “sweet spot” of focus and get repeatable results.
  • Good for photos where you want to draw the eye to one particular detail, like food, product or portrait shots.
  • If you decide you don’t want the Lensbaby “look” for a particular shot, you can reduce the effect dramatically by using the narrowest aperture. A friend of ours uses it as his go-to lens because of the sharp optics and light weight.
  • Gadgets! Optional, interchangeable optics and wide-angle or telephoto adapters give you lots of different looks from one lens.

The Bad:

  • Having to change the apertures manually can slow you down a lot.
  • Manual focus makes it harder to capture fast-moving action, and it’s tricky to focus in low light.
  • Wider apertures are prone to some pretty serious lens flare.
  • The Lensbaby takes some getting used to. It’s a good idea to practice with it for a while before taking it on an important shoot.

The Ugly:

  • Sorry, we’re fresh out of ugly.

If we got stranded on a desert island with only one lens, we might make it this one (with the possible addition of a wide-angle adapter). It’s light, versatile, sharp (when you want it to be) and really fun to use.

The Lensbaby Composer

*Full disclosure: Lensbaby is a Photojojo advertiser, but our love for them is true. (Their first lens was one of the first things we reviewed when we were just starting out almost three years ago.)

p.s. We put our test shots up here in case you guys wanna see ’em.