The Edge 80 Optic is a creative add-on for Lensbaby’s body units and doubles up as a regular 80mm f/2.8 lens and freeform tilt lens. It attaches to the Composer (original and Pro) and when tilted creates a ‘slice’ of tack-sharp image and leaves the rest of the frame to fall away into blur. Much like Lensbaby’s other accessories, the Edge 80 is a very hands-on device that relies on the photographer to work the Composer’s robust ball-and-socket mechanism to create the desired effect, but persevere and the results can be dazzling.
Lensbaby’s latest gizmo features a manual aperture ring and offers a range of f/2.8-f/22. Stop right down and your camera’s viewfinder becomes dark and manual focusing becomes tricky, so switching to Live View and zooming in to specific areas makes focusing much easier. Focusing is done via the Composer’s manual focus ring and is fairly easy to get to grips with. Another noteworthy feature is an in-built ‘extension tube’ that pulls out of the lens – this allows you to focus as close as 48cm/19in.
The Edge 80 is just under 5cm in length and quite fiddly to attach to and remove from the Composer’s mount – you have to line up the dots and hold your breath! Saying that, it’s an incredibly solid unit, its aperture ring gives it a retro charm, and it doesn’t feel as plasticky as some other similarly niche products. But at £245 you don’t get much product for your buck.
The whole Lensbaby process is captivating – just take a look at the galleries and tutorials on the company’s website to see how many people are hooked. Lensbaby images have an instantly recognisable feel to them, which reminds me of Apple’s Instagram iPhone app. Problem is, Instagram is free! And this is the catch. To use the Edge 80 you have to invest in a Composer, which costs upwards of £165. The Edge 80 itself is £245, so you’re splashing out at least £410 for the pleasure. It’s a lovely piece of kit, but you’ve got to be absolutely sure you‘re going to get your money’s worth before buying.
The Edge 80 is a fun and quirky lens to use, but its price-tag will turn a lot of photographers off.
- Street price: £349 (Price as of June 2016 with Composer Pro)
- Focal length: 80mm
- Lens mount: Canon, Nikon
- Max aperture: f/2.8
- Minimum focus distance: 43cm
- Filter size: 46mm
- Weight: 198g
- Visit: www.lensbaby.com
This review was first published in the October 2012 issue of Practical Photography - download back issues here.