Gear Review: Lensbaby Composer Pro II with Edge 50 Optic

A little over a year ago, I was contacted by someone with Lensbaby and asked if I would test out their Composer Pro II with Edge 50 Optic.  That was pretty cool because most lens manufacturers don’t solicit a lot of photographer collaboration unless you are on a very short list.  Lensbaby is different than the other lens companies in other ways too.  They are all about creativity and helping the photographer create something completely unique.  Just take a look at the Composer Pro II and you will see it doesn’t look anything like the lenses you are used to.

I had heard a lot of people rave about Lensbaby for street photography and flowers and creative portraits, but I was interested to see how I could use it in my landscape work.

The Composer Pro II is a metal housing system that can hold different optics from Lensbaby.  The Edge 50 is just one of those optics.  This system allows you to bend the lens so you can obtain the tilt-shift effect slice of focus in 71rleclkydl-_sl1500_different areas of the frame depending on how you bend the lens.  I was excited this lens is compatible with my Fuji X-T1 as there are very few third-party lens options to pair with Fuji bodies.

This is a fixed 50 mm lens, which means it has a full-frame equivalent of a 75 mm prime lens if you use it on a crop sensor.  It has an aperture range of f/3.2 to f/22 with a minimum focusing distance of eight inches.  It is a manual focus lens that can tilt up to fifteen degrees.  It has nine diaphragm blades with 8 elements in 6 groups.  It is 3.25 inches long by 2.5 inches wide and weighs 10 ounces with a filter thread of 46 mm.

While I can’t give you any specific details about sharpness, the point of owning this lens is to have fun.  If you are anything like me, you have spent hours shooting the same location as the weather changes or the sun sets.  I am not the most patient and am always looking for something new to shoot or some new way to capture the scene while I wait.  That is where I have had the most fun with my Lensbaby.  It allows you to take a completely different vision of the scene and capture things that are simply impossible with a different lens.

The effect you get shooting with lens is to capture a slice of focus.  Depending on how you tilt the lens, you can control where in your frame you want in focus.  You can have that slice of focus go from left to right, right to left, up and down, diagonally or however else you want it.

Honestly, the most difficult part of using this lens for landscapes is dealing with the 50 mm lens.  It is tough to find a landscape that works at 50 mm.  This can be fun though as it is another piece of the lens that makes you look at a landscape in a completely different way.

Where I really loved this lens ended up being the more urban environments.  It is great for travel and street photography as you can get really creative walking around the streets of any city.  The most difficult part again is dealing with trying to capture buildings or other city scenes at 50 mm.  People can also be tough since this is a manual focus lens.  The focus peaking I get on my Fuji system helped a lot, but when you are manually focusing, it is also a little more difficult to stay conspicuous.  Below are some images I have captured with the lens.

The landscape above is one I took on a small dirt trail in Central Idaho overlooking Cascade Lake.  The slice of focus captured here included a chunk of the foreground wildflowers just a foot from my camera and the lake that was miles away, all while rendering the rest of the frame completely out of focus.

I really liked the effect I got on this shot from the Palouse area of Western Washington.  The slice of focus allowed me to take a minimalist scene and really draw attention to the divide between the green and yellow, which is what the image is all about.

Shooting bouquets of flowers isn’t really my thing, but it is really fun with this lens as you can get that surreal dreamy effect that is fun with flowers.  I do wish the minimum focusing distance was closer so you could get more macro type shops, but it is still fun.

What would normally be a pretty boring shot of a building in downtown Salt Lake City is more interesting when you can play with the focus.  In the shot below, I was able to decide what exactly I wanted the image to say by picking a particular part of the building to focus on that would never be possible with a normal lens.

Urban scenes can be really fun with this lens.  Often the problem with urban scenes is that you have a small interesting area with some distractions around.  That wasn’t necessary the case in the above image, but this lens is great for focusing on the interesting part of a scene and completely blurring out the junk.  You can’t always do that with just shallow aperture because you may need to keep a greater area in focus and want to blur things close in relation.

I love this lens for travel photography.  In this scene from our hotel in Lisbon, I was able to completely minimize the ugly street scene littered with garbage, construction and cars to only focus on the buildings

All in all, I think this lens packs a ton of value in its relatively low price.  While you aren’t going to get the technical abilities you might get with an expensive lens from one of the big companies, this lens will help you do some really creative things to add interest to your photography without having to spend a ton of money.

You can currently pick it up on Amazon for under $400!

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