My droopy lens

Say what? OK, now that I have your attention . . . everyone who knows me knows I have a thing for oddball lenses and the following photo is proof that they “Oddball Lenses” can help create the atmosphere depending on how they are used . . .

May Flowers

May Flowers

Standard Composer

Standard Composer

So I was doing some industrial browsing and the following lens caught my eye (I had wanted to play with one for along time just could not justify the price), An older model of the popular Composer Pro . . . the Composer with double glass lens element to be exact, from “Lensbaby“.

The price was right and it included 3 additional adapters for super wide, wide angle and telephoto.  I wanted one of these to play with, and was not interested in the flexi radiator hose model (I can do that already and have in a DIY form), I wanted a bit more control and repeatability . . . so I squeezed my old plastic hard and pressed the buy button . . . a few days later the white truck appeared in the drive and a nice fellow handed me a toaster size box (very light, hell it felt almost empty) and I walked back in and opened it up.

What you will first notice is the lack of weight. This palm sized lens is basically a Ball and Socket tilt shift lens with a locking ring next to the mounting flange and a focus ring on the other end.   The barrel of this lens is composed mostly of nylon and the Double lens element (50mm Focal Length) is nearly weightless as well comprised I believe of the same tough material. I said lens element as the composer and most of the other models use interchangeable lens elements which snap in and out of place, one must use the the tool [this is the cap of the case that comes with the lens] to lock the element into the barrel and unlock it as well.  The Double Glass lens element is threaded for 37mm filters and accessories (save some money and get the Lensbaby step up adapter 37mm to 52mm it has the proper extension so you can still focus if necessary as a standard step up ring will lock your focusing).  This brings us to the rest of the Shtuff I got.

SuperWide, Wide and Tele converters

SuperWide, Wide and Tele converters

     The Super Wide .42X (rear is 37mm and the front is threaded for 52mm filters) which give you the view of a 21mm lens, the wide angle .6X (makes the 50mm approximately 30mm focal length) and Tele 1.6X (makes the 50mm approximately 80mm focal length) these two lenses are threaded on the rear [37mm] and on the front they are threaded for (46mm accessories)  . . . So be frugal, save a few dollars and use what ever Filters you already have, such as ND or Polarizers, special effects just purchase the proper step down/ step up ring, if you are using Cokin filters then get the appropriate attachment ring.  I had a set of close-up filters (diopters) in 52mm size, so with a step down ring I can use them with all three of these lens converters.  As for the Macro extension rings, if you already have a set for your camera you can use them as well.

That nifty little aperture tool is needed to get your aperture rings back out, as well as pre-cut special effects apertures. You can buy more if needed or lost or you can get the creative set and have fun.

Aperture tool & apertures

Aperture tool & apertures

Just drop in a aperture ring, the magnets hold it in place in the lens.


You use the various aperture rings to control the size of the sweet spot.  Do visit the Lensbaby website and their learning section and also their tips section . . . there is a world of valuable tips there as well as facebook sites and user groups.  Don’t expect to be fluent with it over-nite, it takes practice and playing with the various apertures to get good results out of it . . . the more you play the more you will become adept at using this little droopy lens.  And yes the phrase “it don’t come easy” really applies to this lens.

droopy lens

droopy lens

It is purposely angled down to show how far you can tilt it, you see the outer focus ring and the inner locking ring, I leave mine fairly tight and do not loosen and tighten it very much as it can be nudged into the angle that you will want the sweet spot (Focus slice) to be.

I make fun of it being a droopy lens and all, but in reality it is a very interesting lens with some very intriguing possibilities.  Honestly, there is no wrong way to use this lens, it lends itself to you finding what look suits you the most.  And this model has just as many ways to configure it to your liking.  I like doing the “What if I” or “What happens if I” game of configuring the lens in weird ways . . . like adding a +4 or +10 close-up filter to the Super-wide angle lens fitted to the double glass lens element  and getting in tight with a “Wide-Angle-Macro in your face shot” which looks something like the following photo of the lens . . . .

Closeup lens, Super wide converter, double glass Macro setup

Closeup lens, Super wide converter, double glass Macro setup

and a resulting photo looking like this . . .

Honeybee & Poppy

Honeybee & Poppy

or this


I mounted the Composer on my old D200 to have a ready combo to play with as the mood or the “What if” notion hits me . . . . I held a long time negative view of the product . . . Sorry Lensbaby creators . . . this iteration has more then changed my mind about the product . . . a bit pricy in some respects but for what you can get out of one and how adaptable they are . . . all I can say is you do get a lot of Bang for the Buck, and if you are willing to spend some time playing with it you will find your inner child a very happy one.   If you are on a limited budget, just want a fun lens to play with, and when you get bored with it you can change it into another lens . . . it is another creative tool for the creative mind . . . .

I am off to play with my new toy, mixing and matching pieces and parts (a Tinkerers dream) . . . from sharp to soft and all in between . . . just me and my droopy lens . . . it’s one mean machine! . . . go out and have some fun and “untwist your panties“.  “I’m off and I’m not tilting at windmills Dulcinea . . .


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