Is Lensbaby like Marmite?

"Marmite" Lensbaby Twist 60

What is Lensbaby?

Lensbaby produce camera lenses, optics and accessories that transform your images in a rather unique way. The Lensbaby slogans 'see in a new way' and 'looking for more than perfection' really sums up what the product is about. But with a camera boasting 47.5 megapixels (that's my camera) why not embrace the ability to produce front to back sharpness in an image? Many photographers and photo lovers just don't get it! Lets take a closer look ...

Composer Pro II

My very first Lensbaby purchase was the Composer Pro II suite, which comprises - mounting system (there is a mounting system for Nikon, Canon and so on) and three optics: Sweet 30, Sweet 50, Edge 80 and macro adaptors The numbers are indicative of the focal length. Great I though, three for the price of one!

The optics can be swivelled around the circular mount so that you can move the focal point to anywhere in the image. The size of the focal point can be increased by selecting a narrower aperture. Everything else in the image besides the focal point takes on a dreamy or sometimes nightmarish 'blur' or bokeh. The optics come in Sweet or Edge. Sweet provides a circular sweet point of focus and the Edge provides a straight edge of focus.

Was it love at first sight?

Not exactly. I loved everything about the packaging and to be honest I particularly loved the orange lens cleaning cloth that was included in the kit. I lost the cloth in the woods shortly after and to this day I'm still hoping that I might find it.

The Composer Pro suite offers plenty of shooting variations to keep you amused, focal length, focal plane and macro options as well. I didn't have a macro lens at the time so it was a big addition to my kit bag. Swapping the optics was fiddly and attaching the macro adaptors even more so. It definitely takes patience and practice. At the time I had an entry level camera so the optics only worked in manual mode and there was also no camera metering available. To work around this I had a metering app on my phone. This was not ideal, especially on walk around shoots while hoping to capture some spontaneity.

Landscape Sweet 30

This was the first image I took with the Sweet 30. I still remember receiving a comment like 'It's not even in focus' (I bet that person doesn't like Marmite either!). That comment threw my confidence a bit but I was as convinced then, as I am now, that I'd found 'that something different' that I was looking for.

With some months of practice I was starting to building quite an impressive Lensbaby portfolio. The image below won 1st Prize in a photography competition and it was likened to the work of Julia Margaret Cameron, a victorian portrait photographer. By now I was well and truly hooked on Lensbaby.

Feel the Rain Edge 80

In a nut shell, The Composer Pro II is probably the best place to start with Lensbaby products and you get a lot for your money. Things to consider before you buy: Which shooting modes will it work with on your camera? If it works in Aperture mode you'll probably hit the ground running but if it only works in Manual mode (metering may not work either) then you really need to have a good understanding of the exposure triangle. Don't expect miracles overnight and be prepared to put the work in to be rewarded with stunning images. Have fun with the optics and remember that you are shooting for 'you' and not for the love of Marmite!

I'm actually quite glad that Lensbaby has a niche market because after all we are Lensbaby fans because we strive for something different.

Coming up next ... The Velvet 56

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