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The Globe and Mail

Lensbaby Composer puts focus on creativity

The Lensbaby Composer ($299.99 at Henry's for most common DSLR mounts) isn't your average lens - and that's a good thing. Unlike other DSLR add-ons from Canon or Nikon, the Composer isn't about giving you more focal length or aperture to work with. Instead, it's all about the effects.

Tilt the front of the lens and your field of focus will shift with it. Once satisfied, the position of the lens stays bent, allowing you to focus accordingly. The result is an image that's only selectively focused on an object or area, depending on the angle the lens is titled, which can make for both unique and inventive photos.

Compared to conventional lenses, you won't find any auto-focus motors or image stabilization here; everything is completely manual. Focus is controlled using a ring on the front, and tiny black discs on the inside of the lens must be swapped to change aperture. If you're an automatic shooter still new to DSLRs, this may not be the lens for you.

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But for those who enjoy photography's finer points, customization and manual control is what drives the Lensbaby experience. Almost everything about this lens can be swapped or switched, right down to the glass used inside.

The default Composer configuration includes a double-glass optic equivalent in focal length to a 50mm lens. However, a fish-eye, soft-focus and even plastic-style optic - reminiscent of the effect produced by an old toy camera - can be swapped for alternate image effects.

Of course, as a manual-focus lens, the Lensbaby Composer does have a learning curve, and it takes time to discover what good focus and composition requires. But with a bit of practice, it could become your camera's coolest lens, bound to impress all those captured within its tilt-focused frame.

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