The Lensbaby Sweet 35 optic is a selective focus lens. Combined with the tilting Lensbaby Composer Pro 2, you can move a ‘sweet-spot’ of sharpness to anywhere within the frame blurring everything else.
As a result, the Lensbaby Sweet 35 makes your photos less sharp and more ethereal and dreamy. Although the Lensbaby Sweet 35 is not for everyone, I absolutely love it. And you might too!
This review covers two different but related products – the Composer Pro 2 which serves as a host for several different Lensbaby lenses and the Sweet 35 optic. Jump to Conclusion | Buy Lensbaby Sweet 35 + Composer Pro 2
Lensbaby Composer Pro 2 Review
What is the Lensbaby Composer Pro 2
The Composer Pro 2 is a housing for the Lensbaby optic swap system. Therefore, if you want to buy a Lensbaby Sweet or Edge optic, you must also buy a Lensbaby Composer or Composer Pro.
Of the different Composers, the Composer Pro 2 feels like the most mature, developed version. You must take care to order the correct Composer for your camera’s lens mount.
How does the Lensbaby Composer Pro 2 work
At the Composer Pro 2’s center is a ball joint enabling you to bend the Composer Pro 2 in all directions.
When doing so, you manipulate the image projected onto your camera’s sensor creating an effect that tilts the focus plane.
The Composer Pro 2 features two control rings. One is located at the Composer’s base and is used to loosen, tighten, or lock the ball-joint in place. The second dial is located towards the top near the optic and is used to drive manual focus.
Lensbaby Composer Pro 2 Review Verdict
It is difficult to review the Composer Pro 2 as it exists as a means to an end – a slave to whatever optic you wish to drop into it.
Nevertheless, this iteration of the Composer is well built, pleasant to use, and suffers none of the faults or irritations of previous models. To summarize, the Composer Pro 2 does what it’s supposed to and does it well.
Lensbaby Sweet 35 Optic Review
What is the Lensbaby Sweet 35
The ‘Sweet’ range of lenses are selective focus lenses enabling you to blur much of a photo except for a sharp, moveable sweet-spot.
With regular lenses, the focus is a matter of depth. For instance, you might be focusing on a friend 5 meters away. Therefore, your friend and anything else at 5 meters will be in focus. On the other hand, elements in-front or behind your friend are out of focus, the severity of which depending on various factors such as focal length and aperture. Learn about focal length.
What makes the Lens Baby Sweet 35 so special is that you can control focus depth and latitude.
How the Lensbaby Sweet 35 works
The Lensbaby Sweet 35 features a sweet-spot. Within the sweet spot, elements are sharp and in-focus with everything else falling out of focus.
Furthermore, you make the sweet spot smaller and the blur effect greater by using larger apertures (maximum aperture is F2.5). Alternatively, you can use smaller apertures to enlarge the sweet-spot and decrease the blur effect. Learn about Aperture.
By tilting the Composer Pro 2’s ball-joint, you can move the Sweet 35’s in-focus ‘sweet-spot’ around the frame. For instance, you might want the in-focus sweet-spot center-frame or jammed into an extreme corner. In fact, you can place your sharp in-focus sweet-spot anywhere you like.
Using the Lensbaby Sweet 35 optic
The Lensbaby Composer Pro 2 and Sweet 35 is an entirely mechanical combination. Yep, no motor, no electronics. In fact, your camera barely knows its attached. Therefore, perks such as automatic shooting, autofocus, and even aperture priority are long gone with focus and aperture manually set using the lens rings.
Yet, you will enjoy some modern perks. For example, your camera will still meter light levels helping you determine the correct exposure. And your camera’s manual focus assists will continue to function normally.
Perhaps the most difficult aspect of using the Lensbaby is moving the sweet-spot. When tilting the Composer Pro, it is amazingly easy to lose where your sweet spot is within the frame. This is particularly the case if you use an optical viewfinder. As a result, I must frequently recenter the Lensbaby Composer Pro 2 and try again.
Even when I think the sweet spot is where I want it, it’s probably not. Thus, I take the shot, review, make the necessary micro-adjustments, and try again. This is particularly true if you engage the Sweet 35’s maximum F2.5 aperture. At F2.5, the sweet spot is so small that your breathing is sufficient to blur the shot.
Yet, no matter what I say, when you first get hold of the Lensbaby Sweet 35, you will want to jam it into top gear and melt the scenery with its maximum F2.2 aperture. And so you should because the results are crazy and fun.
Yet, showing some restraint has its advantages. By dialing down to a smaller aperture such as F4, the learning curve eases significantly. Not only does the sweet-spot become usefully larger, but the increased depth of field also makes manual focusing easier.
Should you buy a Lensbaby Sweet 35?
Without a doubt, the Lensbaby Sweet 35 is inferior to almost every lens in almost every measure. Yet, it’s ‘inferior’ by design. After all, the Lensbaby exists to produce images that appeal to the heart, not the head.
If you can tolerate the manual workflow and the slow process, the Lensbaby Sweet 35 provides you the means to capture familiar subjects in unfamiliar ways for images that stand out from the crowd.
Whether you should buy one is entirely up to you. Objectively speaking, I can tell you it is reliable, well-built, and suitably priced. Subjectively speaking, I can tell you I like it a lot.
If you hate my samples and all of the others out there, perhaps the Lensbaby Sweet 35 is not for you. But if you are looking to escape the tedium of razor-sharp perfection and get a little freaky with your photography, the Lensbaby Sweet 35 is for you.