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on 27 April 2010
I have wanted one of these for ages but was put off by the earlier versions. This is the third incarnation). I think its a bit expensive but what price creativity?

I used this on my two Nikons, a D90 and a D3. There is a difference. With the D90 I get no control over the metering and have to guess exposure. Not too bad if you have a good undertanding of photography but for first timers a bit of a no-no. However, on the D3, the lens metrs with the camera making exposure esay.

The lens firs snuggly in the Nikon lens mount and you have a variety of apperture rings to use. You just ust the included tool to release the aperature ring in the lensbaby and drop another in. Sounds easy but can be a bit fiddily. The lensbaby comes with a f4 aperture ring already installed so thats what I use in most instances.

The lensbaby is so easy to use, but there is no autofocus. You can bend the lens and then when you focus on the sweetspot depending on the agnle of the lens all other parts of the image are out of focus. Wish I could upload an image here to show you but I don't think you can. (If anyone knows how drop me a comments please)

The lensbay is plastic but appears to be sturdy enough for its purpise. Its light and comes with its own little carrying bag. Good news too you can get accessories for close up an a variaty of shaped aperture rings. Costs a bit more but you can have even more fun with this little gem.
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The original Lensbaby and Lensbaby 2 were designed to restore a sense of random spontaneity to photography. Holga-esque elements and 'squeeze to focus' meant that every picture you took was in a certain sense a guess, even on a single lens reflex. You can still get something like the original Lensbaby in the form of the Lensbaby Muse, but if you want to retain the extreme blurring and distortion of the original while having a degree of control and repeatability, the Lensbaby Composer is probably what you are looking for.

If you've never used a Lensbaby, it is a relatively low quality compound lens with the front and the back connected not by a rigid tube, but by a flexible collar. With this, you can push and pull the front lens to focus, but also move it off axis, giving you the effects of a Tilt/Shift lens. However, unlike a studio tilt/shift which is designed to give you the maximum in terms of absolute quality, at a significant cost in spontaneity, the Lensbaby throws optical quality to the winds, and gives you something you just move and shoot.

This is all fully manual, of course -- even to the extent that changing the aperture requires you to physically swap out aperture rings. Most modern cameras should be able to do something in the way of auto-exposure, by varying the shutter speed or the ISO, but you may well find that the results are unpredictable -- as is almost everything about a Lensbaby.

If this sounds like a recipe for disaster, think again. By removing any pretence at pixel-level sharpness or absence of distortion, the Lensbaby sets you free to just take pictures, in exactly the way that Holga cameras freed up a new generation of art photographers to experiment with the weird and wonderful. Unlike a Holga, you get all the benefits of digital, plus whatever further refinements your camera of choice has.

As mentioned, the original Lensbaby has you physically pushing, pulling and twisting the lens. The Composer is a much more refined machine, allowing you to turn a dial to focus, and also to lock the position of the front optic relative to the back so that, having established the optical properties, you can then work on the composition, or, perhaps, just go off and have a cup of tea before taking the all important shot.

* * *

Photographically, what does this all mean? You may have seen the kind of blurry/sharp photos of bright flowers which were used to market the early Lensbabies. This kind of thing doesn't really do it for me, because you can just as easily put vaseline on a plain filter to get that effect. What I do find, though, is that the Lensbaby gives an extraordinary 'motion' type blur to part of the shot, as well as an extreme of differential focus. The result -- about 1/8 of the time -- is something which conjures up all the feel of a motion picture, but in a still. I treasure the Lensbaby for this otherwise unobtainable movie quality, which simply can't be reproduced in Photoshop. The other 7/8 shots with a Lensbaby? Fortunately they fit cameras these days with a delete button. Even using the Composer, a Lensbaby is still a semi-random photographic tool.
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on 5 August 2009
I looked at this lens long and hard before I bought. But, I'm so glad I did!
I'll be honest though, I'd recommend buying the other optics too. For a further £70 - £90 you can convert the composer into a wide angle, telephoto and macro, covering the range of 20 - 80mm.
That then becomes a very versatile lens, combine that with the creative aperture kit and there are countless combinations and effects to achieve, all with the added tilt shift capability.
The manual apertures really get you thinking about the basics of photography. Beware though, no TTL metering on most SLR's, personally it has made me think more about how the camera works and what you can acheive.
Brilliant product, one that will appear in a lot more camera bags in the future.
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on 23 April 2010
The Lensbaby Composer is certainly like no other lens that you will have used before. Firstly it is a manual lens with no cpu data going to the camera body, and no autofocus. So to use this lens you will need to be proficient in using your camera in manual mode or, if your camera allows it, in Aperture priority metering mode. When I first used the Lensbaby Composer it took me while to get used to the way it worked, but now it is second nature to compose and focus. This lens has a learning curve which is not too steep, and you will be getting good results within a few hours. To change the aperture (f Stop) the lens is provided with a set of aperture disks in the various f stops from 2.8 to 22, these are kept in a small utility tool that has a magnet on one end and a holder on the other which has a 35mm film cap as a closure. To change f stops just use the magnet to lift the disk out, and then just drop a new disk back in, simple. If you are having any problems, Lensbaby have a very good website and Forum, which has an amazing amount of information and examples of users work on. So if you do take the plunge and buy one, expect people to look at you as having gone a bit crazy in buying a lens that moves in as many different directions as you will to get your shot.
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on 22 January 2013
I love this lens. I mostly use it for cityscapes or street photography, it's fully manual so you'll get varying results - don't expect perfect sharpness, this is not the point of this lens (remember the price vs something like a Nikon 50mm 1.4). Creates some very cool images. Lots of accessories to play with, for not much additional money! I have regularly lent this to other photographers who have enjoyed playing with it and then bought their own.
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on 13 January 2013
This is a very interesting and potentially highly creative addition to the camera.

The pictures can be stunning and very different, I don't think possible to achieve via post shooting software, certainly not as quickly but, it takes time to set up the camera, all manual for Nikon anyway so not aperture, speed control, and the focus is not easy. so time needed, no bad thing perhaps and the outcome when it comes together is amazing.
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on 27 November 2013
Lovely bit of kits that is as good as everyone says. Not totally in love with it but it works well and I like the magnetic aperture rings.
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on 17 August 2012
The lensbaby was bought as a gift and the recipient tells me she loves it. It takes some quirky photos and great for experimenting with.
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on 25 July 2009
It takes a little time to get used to the "old fashion" way of taking pictures, but definitely worth it.

The lens is fully manual, it has good construction and design, not as "nikon quality full metal high end lens feeling", but like a kit lens. Aluminium body, feels right in the hand, focus is relatively precise in the zone that you select to be in focus. Only gripe I have with it is that changing the aperture is a fully manual (with magnets) activity and takes a lot of time - this lens is to take pictures to things that you can control or are static...

I'm using it on a D300 and I'm getting good results - you learn to look to photography as the old times - manual. The previous versions of the lensbaby didn't appealed to me because being too sensible to how you hold them. This one stays where you want, which is why I got it.

Quite happy with the purchase. I haven't tried the other accessories yet, there is a lot to explore on this one.
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on 19 June 2010
Shows new techniques and gets you thinking about pictures in a new way. Procuct arrived ahead of time and well packaged.
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