*Lensbaby’s sweet, ‘Sweet 35’

It’s here.  This, more than any other Lensbaby optic I’ve personally used, changes the Lensbaby from a fun tool, into a productive, creative asset.  Not that any of the other Lensbaby optics are bad, quite the contrary, I think that the Lensbaby system is and has always been a wonderful addition to my photographic arsenal, it’s just that up until now, one big challenge with any of the Lensbaby optics has been the inability to alter the size of the sweet spot via aperture adjustment quickly on the fly…  Now, you can bring all of the cool, selective focus effects into concert with the adaptability and exposure tuning qualities of a more standard lens.  Read on for a quick video and image samples…

The 35mm focal length is one of my personal favorites on a 35mm film or Full Frame camera.  It is wide enough but not too wide, and it enables one to interact with their subject and within their frame.  On an APS-C sensor camera, it provides a “standard” focal length which is probably third on my favorites list, so, really a win win regardless of sensor size as it allows for a slight wide through standard field of view which puts things into a very comfortable perspective perfect for environmental portraiture, group shots, event/wedding/reportage style shooting and just general walk around and street shooting.  Couple this angle of view with the quick aperture control and you also have a very versatile video lens with which to employ the Lensbaby selective focus look too.

With an adjustable (12 BLADE!) aperture of f/2.5 through f/22, you can manipulate the “sweet spot”  from very dreamy wide open to a nice blurred vignette when stopped down.  Designed to produce beautiful circular out of focus areas and very pleasing bokeh, it is, to my eye, the smoothest Lensbaby optic yet.  This to me is why it works so well for both the manipulatable Composer, Muse and Control Freek style mounts AND the fixed Scout.  With the Scout, I think it provides a nice, relatively fast, quick and easy portrait lens providing a beautiful blurred vignette with the sweet spot in the center, perfect for portraiture, and then of course you can take that central spot and move it all over the place with the malleable front element Lensbabies.

Here is a quick look at it (I am just starting to try and figure out/integrate video into the blog, so be gentle on me…:)

The official specs are as follows (From Lensbaby):

  • Focal Length: 35mm
  • 12 blade internal aperture, controlled by a dial on the front of the optic
  • Aperture range from f/2.5 through f/22 (sweet spot size ranges from 15%, at f/2.5, to 40%, at f/22, of total image area on APS-C sensor cameras)
  • Selective focus optic (creates a sweet spot of focus surrounded by gradual blur)
  • Compatible with Lensbaby Composer, Scout, Muse, and Control Freak lens bodies*
  • Focus distance when used with:

Composer: 7.5” to infinity

Scout: 6.5” to infinity

Muse & Control Freak: 3” to infinity

  • 4 multi-coated glass elements, in three groups
  • 46mm front threads**

(*The Sweet 35 Optic is not compatible with the Composer with Tilt Transformer for Micro 4/3rds and Sony NEX Cameras.)

(**The Sweet 35 Optic is not compatible with current 37mm Lensbaby accessories.)

To reiterate, the Sweet 35, like the Fisheye, is NOT COMPATIBLE with the new Tilt Transformer/Composer for the Micro 4/3 or Sony NEX camera mounts… (unfortunately).  This is due to the flange distance and sensor proximity to the rear lens elements which can potentially hit and damage the sensors.  I shot these images with my full frame 5DII:

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The Lensbaby Sweet 35 Optic retails for $180.00 and for those who already own a Lensbaby, I feel it is very well worth the money.  If you’re a fan of Lensbabies, I find it to be the best and most compelling Lensbaby optic available period and certainly worth a look (I do really like the soft focus optic as well, but all around, the Sweet 35 is the business).  If you don’t already own a Lensbaby, I would suggest a look at the system and what it offers.  By purchasing a Composer (in my opinion the best overall bang for the buck) you get the standard double glass optic, which is a beauty in it’s own right granting you access to all of the current add on optics, macro filters and accessories providing that Lensbaby look.  The system opens up from there offering cool, kitschy plastic, soft focus, pinhole/zoneplate, fisheye and single glass add on optics and now the beautiful Sweet 35.  Once you have a Lensbaby (Scout, Muse, Control Freak or Composer) the system is diverse and arguably very affordable.  I have been asked and emailed by many inquiring about the Lensbaby system and for all those wedding and event shooters who’ve been curious about the popular Lensbaby look but may have been hesitant to get into the system feeling that it wasn’t quite as responsive as you may have wanted, this is the optic that changes the game.

You can purchase the Sweet 35, and all Lensbaby products directly through their website here: http://lensbaby.com

Or, find them at your local photo retailer, or online through B&H, Adorama or Amazon.

Thanks for reading through and happy shooting!


Want more reading on Lensbaby stuff?

Lensbaby Scout

Sony NEX5 and the Lensbaby Tilt Transformer

Micro 4/3 Tilt Transformer

A new way to see indeed, using your Lensbaby via adapters to open up your options


12 thoughts on “*Lensbaby’s sweet, ‘Sweet 35’

  1. Very nice! Is this the top secret lens then? 😉

    I’m just a little disappointed that it’s not compatible with my micro4/3rds Tilt Transformer/Composer, so sadly isn’t going to be an option for me and my GH1 😦


    • Hey Alisdair,

      Yep, this was the secret optic. I’ve been fielding emails from folks sharing the same disappointments. The only current work around is by using a standard mount (EF, F, etc) dSLR Lensbaby with a lens mount converter to a micro 4/3 or NEX cam. Funny enough, I was getting a lot of similar sentiment when the TT was introduced, just from the other side, people with the standard dSLR mount LB’s wanting a tilt adapter for F mount lenses. As is, I hope to see future LB products integrate the concepts from both the TT and the Sweet 35 into products for both platforms, assuming the engineering and physical requirements allow it to happen. I don’t know if I’d go so far to say that it would be worth investing in an entirely new Lensbaby set up with an adapter to be able to fit the Sweet 35 onto a micro 4/3 or NEX camera just to use the Sweet 35 unless there was a project or specific need to do so (ie: film set up on a GH1/2, wedding shooter who really needed the on the fly aperture adjustment, etc).

      Who knows what we’ll see around the corner though 🙂

      Thanks as always,



  2. Pingback: *Lensbaby Composer Pro for MILC Cameras, a system within a system. « Tyson Robichaud Photo-blography

  3. Pingback: *Published! | Tyson Robichaud Photo-blography

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