Lensbaby introduced the Composer at Photokina. It’s a completely new lens, based on a ball and socket configuration that delivers selective focus photography with greater precision than previous Lensbaby models.

I’ve been using Lensbaby products since they launched. (Long before there even was a TWIP.) For those who unaware of the concept, all Lensbaby lenses (old and new) provide photographers with a way to control depth of field (area of focus) by bringing one area of a photo into sharpest focus surrounded by graduated blur. By bending the Lensbaby lens, the photographer moves the sharp area around the photo for customized creative effects.

Photo by Scott Bourne

Photo by Scott Bourne

The new Composer retains its position after being bent and is easy to use even with one hand. Photographers do not squeeze the lens to focus, but can simply tilt the lens to a desired angle and then focus with a barrel focusing ring. The Composer stays in the desired bent position without requiring a locking mechanism and features the new Lensbaby Optic Swap System. The Composer’s barrel focusing ring has a unique design that becomes more sensitive (requiring greater rotation to move the optic in and out) as you approach infinity, making it easer to focus on subjects from 10 feet to infinity.

For me, the focus ring on the Composer moves a bit too freely, but after some practice, I got the hang of it, and was able to focus really well. In case you haven’t realized it, this is a strictly manual focus lens.

You adjust the aperture of the Composer by changing aperture rings. The unit ships at F/4, which is my personal favorite aperture for Lensbaby use. It shows enough detail to keep the subject recognizable, but allows for a soft, pleasing blur everywhere else.

Along with the new Composer, Lensbaby announced the Optic Swap System. The product comes with the sharpest lens installed. Additional optics are available as optional accessories. When a photographer wants to change the optic in their Lensbaby, they will simply pop the optic out and drop in a different optic using a supplied Optic Swap Tool. Each optic has different features and image qualities, allowing photographers to choose the look that fits their creative style. Most simply offer additional degrees of softness into the image. So if you want a more dreamy or artistic effect, you may want to opt for the Single, Glass or Zone Plate optic.

All the optics feature magnetically levitating interchangeable aperture disks that allow aperture settings from f/2 to f/22.

The Single Glass, Plastic, and Pinhole/Zone plate optics are sold individually as well as in an Optic Boxed Set to retail for $95.00. The Composer retails for $270.

For more information, visit Lensbaby.