Something Fishy. Oops Fisheye
23 Nov 2010
Lensbaby recently released a new product -- the Scout -- a $250 fisheye lens. Unlike their Composer, the lens is "fixed" in that it does not have an adjustable focal point. (The composer has sort of a ball and socket arrangement that allows the lens to be used much like a tilt and shift lens.)
I took the lens out with my Canon EOS 50D to photograph two of my favorite subjects -- bridges and dams. The bridge -- the Williamsburg bridge pedestrian walkway. The dam -- the Croton Dam in Westchester County.
Like other Lensbaby products, the lens is fixed aperture, but the aperture can be manually adjusted by inserting a disk with a hole in it behind the optic. About a half dozen disks are supplied with the lens, ranging from f/22 up in full stops. I found that f/5.6 seems to work best for me.
The lens has a focus ring, which I found to be a bit jerky at first, but it seems to be loosening up. Strictly manual focus. Although the lens does not couple to the camera's electronics, the camera figures out exposure when set to Av (aperture value) by setting the appropriate shutter speed (no aperture setting is displayed in the camera).
The lens is a bit funky. It is a fisheye, shows a bit of vignetting in the corners with a crop sensor (true round fisheye with a full frame sensor). Cool lens flare.
The optic part of the lens can be replaced with any of the other Lensbaby optics available, including the 50mm optic that comes standard with the Lensbaby Composer. For $250, it is a bargain, hundreds of dollars less than a Canon fisheye lens. If you have a Composer, you can purchase the fisheye optic separately for about $150. And something I learned from the Lensbaby folks at the PhotoPlus Expo in NYC -- they do sell the Composer body (no lens) directly for $210. So if you buy a Scout and later decide you want the tilt/shift function, you can get the Composer body alone for about $70 less than the Composer with the standard lens.