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Gear Reviews

Lensbaby’s New Sweet 50: Your Favorite Focal Length With a Twist

By Anthony Thurston on November 18th 2014

The Lensbaby Composer Pro system is a versatile selective focus housing, which can hold any of Lensbaby’s optics. The latest of those optics is the Sweet 50. I’ve had a chance to play with the Sweet 50 here over the last several weeks and here are my thoughts.

[RELATED: Lensbaby LM-10 Review]

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03-performance-4-stars

I will just get this out of the way first – if you have never used the Lensbaby system before (like me), it will take you a little while to get used to it. The way the Sweet 50 optic is designed, there is a small area of focus that gradually fades into blur. You can move this focus around the frame by moving the Composer Pro in the direction you want the focus to move. Once you get the hang of it, it is simple, but at first, it can be really frustrating.

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As far as the Sweet 50’s optical performance, the focus area is sharp, and the out of focus areas are not. You really can’t judge a lens like this the way you would a normal lens. But I can say that I am very happy with the results I am getting with the Sweet 50 as far as image quality goes.

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08-features-4-starsThe Sweet 50 comes with all the features you would expect a lens to have, a way to connect to the camera (via the Composer Pro) and manual aperture control. The Composer Pro comes with a metal lens mount, and is well built. I have the Canon EF version, and it fits snugly without issue.

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Lensbaby Sweet 50mm Lens Specs

  • 50mm Selective Focus Optic
  • Aperture Range: f/2.5 to 22
  • Curved Field of Focus
  • 2 Multi-Coated Glass Elements
  • 12-Blade Internal Aperture

14-design-5-stars

I couldn’t be more impressed with the design of the Lensbaby Composer Pro system, and by extension, the Sweet 50. I love the small compact size, and the versatility of being able to switch out a 50mm for 35mm, or 85mm and not be lugging around these huge lenses.

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As for the Sweet 50 itself: it is designed well and fits perfectly in the Composer Pro casing.

  •  Before  After
Mouse over image to see lens extended from focusing.

18-quality-4-stars

The Lensbaby Composer Pro and the Sweet 50 Optic are both of very high quality. That said, there is a lot of plastic (It’s high quality plastic, but plastic all the same) that I am not confident could take much of a beating if you are rough with your gear. That is not to say these will fall apart on you during average use, but I could see the system having issues if you dropped it the right way (Though, really, what lens wouldn’t?).

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I know that the price would go up, but I would love to see an all metal version of this system. It would definitely ease my mind taking these out on a hike or into the wilderness. Still, even made with plastic, I am very happy with and impressed by the quality of the Lensbaby Composer Pro system and the Sweet 50 Optic.

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23-value-4-stars

So here we are, to the section that most of you will be most interested in. The value. If you already own a Composer Pro, you can purchase the Sweet 50 optic for $119 (A no-brainer if you ask me). If you don’t, then you can buy both together in the kit for $299. This is not cheap, especially for what many would consider a gimmicky lens effect.

That said, the Composer Pro and the Sweet 50 optic are very high quality, in both image and build. You get an incredible product for less than you can buy most kit lenses separately. What it comes down to is if you see yourself using this effect in your creative vision. If you are going to pull it out once in a while, it’s probably not worth it, but if you can see yourself working this into your business or art, then ($119/$299) is a small price to pay.

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32-overall-score-4-stars

Overall, the Lensbaby system, and the selective focus effect that you get from it are not for everyone. But if you are looking to try something new, or you find yourself constantly adding selective focus effects in post-production, maybe this is a product that you would like to try. The Composer Pro, and the Sweet 50 would make for an awesome Christmas Gift for the photographer in your life.

If you would like to get your hands on the Composer Pro with the Sweet 50 you can find them over on B&H for just $299. If you already have a Composer Pro, you can get your hands on the just Sweet 50 Optic here for just $119.

Anthony Thurston is a photographer based in the Salem, Oregon area specializing in Boudoir. He recently started a new project, Fiercely Boudoir to help support the growing boudoir community. Find him over on Instagram. You may also connect with him via Email.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Greg Faulkner

    Couldnt you just get the exact same effect with Photoshop? And if you did it that way you’d still have a sharp all over original if you wanted?

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    • Scott Pacaldo

      probably with the same idea of physical book/ebook. but for me, I think it will remain as a toy and whenever I’m in a rut.

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  2. Aaron Cheney

    They are definitely fun to play with.

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  3. Greg Silver

    Great review and I’m sure this lens has it’s place but I can’t say I’ve ever been a fan of Lensbaby shots. I want to love this product but for me it’s just too much blur in any of the shots I’ve seen.

    I prefer a standard bokeh or a subtle blur but I can see some creative uses for this lens.

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  4. Barry Cunningham

    Having a LensBaby evangelist in my local club (Cleveland Photographic Society), I have attended a few of her presentations and demos, so I am familiar with the products. I understand that many are enthusiatic about their products and enjoy playing with them. That’s great; you should do what you love. Mostly, with rare exceptions, the results just bore me
    Personally, I find them antithetical to my style, so I am not very interested in using them anytime soon.
    None of my preferences are written in stone; I reserve the right to contradict myself whenever I feel like it.

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