If the Sweet optic is your first foray into the Lensbaby world, you might be in for a steep learning curve, but a few helpful tips and I’m sure you will be well on your way to enjoying the Sweet life too.

What is the Sweet optic?

Just to catch everyone up on WHAT the Sweet optic is, the Lensbaby Sweet 80 is a quirky little lens that allows for a sweet spot of focus and the rest of gorgeous swirly blur and bokeh. It’s a completely manual focusing lens and has an aperture dial. This little optic is designed to fit in the Composer Pro II, which attaches to your camera like a standard lens.

Keep things straight

When first starting out, try keeping the lens central. Sure it can tilt, but a little tilt goes a long way. I have also found that you need to line up the sweet spot of focus from the lens with the focus point on your camera. Don’t have your focus point all the way to the left or right and not move the optic. Instead, place your optic straight and the focus point on your camera dead center.

Then move your camera around to obtain the composition you like. When you feel more confident, slowly move or tilt your topic, but just a small amount. If you find it tight or difficult to move, there is a silver ring near the camera end that can be turned to loosen the ball that tilts.

Sweet 80 - adjustment rings
Sweet 80 adjustment rings

Finding focus

If your camera has focus peaking, like my Sony a7R III, make sure it is turned on. I also suggest using a focus magnifier (if your camera has one) to double-check your focus.

While the sweet can do f/2.8, this can be an extremely small depth of field, depending on how close you are to your subject. Try f/4 or even f/5.6 to start with. Try turning the optic all the way to the right — that should be your macro end. Now get in a little close than you would normally shoot, and slowly pull yourself or the camera away from your subject until the peak metering lights up.

Now with the focus magnifier, double-check your sweet spot of focus is where you want it. Adjust with the focus ring to fine-tune things. Snap your picture.

Yes, I know it sounds time-consuming, but I found my groove with this lens pretty quick with these steps. I have also taught a few students this method and they finally fell in love with this lens after many months of frustration.

Obtaining macro

The Sweet 80 has a macro function, by pulling out the end of the optic (you should see a little flower icon at the end of the lens). This allows you to get a little closer to your subject. But it doesn’t really offer and great magnification as such.

I found the Lensbaby macro filters were a dream to work with. In fact, the 4x magnification filter pretty much lives on my Sweet 80. I will take it off for landscapes and such, but I adore using this lens for macro.

Removing the optic

The other tricky thing I found was removing the actual optic. I borrowed a friend’s Edge 35 and needed to swap the optics. On the Composer Pro II, there is a white circle and a white circle with a line. Literally just grab the optic (where Lensbaby Sweet 80 is printed on the lens, not below) and twist from the full circle to the lined circle. It will seem quite tight the first time, but then it can actually become a little loose once it has been removed a few times.

You may need to apply a little pressure, just not too much. Make sure to keep the optic in your hand when it pops out. Just push in and twist to lock the optic again.

Lensbaby Optics
Lensbaby Optics

Hopefully, these quick tips will get you well on your way to loving and living the “sweet” life too.