Shooting with the Lensbaby Sweet 50 Optics
Here are my first four starter tips. There is a definite learning curve with this lens. I plan to hang in here as I think the results can be beautiful and very creative.
You have to manually focus Lensbaby lenses. I thought “no problem”. Wrong! I quickly realized how much I do rely on auto-focus. It simply works, generally without fail. Since my eyes are not what they were 10 years ago I decided to re-adjust my diopter. It was not too far off, but I now know that what I see now is likely in focus. This is actually only part of the challenge. More on this in a bit. I read that the more you focus manually the better you get. I hope so. I also decided to order a new eye cup which will prevent stray light from entering the viewfinder. I ordered the Hoodman HoodEYE cup for my Canon DSLR camera. Oh, I also read that if you are looking for tack-sharp focus, this is not the lens for you.
#2 Finding the area of sharp focus
The Lensbaby Sweet 50 has a central area of sharp focus, and a radial pattern of surrounding blur. You can bend the lens around to move that area, but when first shooting I found that keeping the lens straight helped me find the sharp spot a bit easier. Also, shoot a still subject with a lot of light. More about bending the lens later when I start to tackle that option.
#3 Setting the Aperture
Most articles I’ve read recommend you start with the aperture set at f4 or f5.6. Shooting wide open at f2.5 or f2.8 has much more blur and it is difficult to see the main area of focus. I started out shooting wide open and realized that I wasn’t experienced enough to get good results at these aperture settings.
#4 Practice, Practice Practice
Shoot a lot of images, play with your settings and don’t expect to be good right away. (Ha Ha). I’ve taken about 125 images in the past two days with the Lensbaby Sweet 50 lens. Very few of these images are worth posting, but I have to say that I’m learning something from every shoot. I’m pretty sure I would not have a thing to show here had I not studied videos, documents and training classes. Others have a lot to share and I’m trying to take it one step at a time.
Below these images are a few additional tips I discovered during my practice.
It is important to look at what you have in the background. The blue blobs at the top of this image are a bit distracting. This image was shot at f4.0 in the early morning.
This image was shot at f5.6, with a lot of cloud cover this afternoon. Right now I'm working on 'focus', which is getting better. Composition isn't great.
I think this one was shot at f2.8, which give me much more blur in the background. Focus could be a bit sharper, but I like the blur on this image.
I am not sure what aperture I used for this image. But obviously, the focal point was the bud and not the flower, which is out of focus.
I love close up photography, so I have a tendency to get too close. It is a 50mm lens, so if I take one step back I generally get better focus, a better focal point and better blur. I will continue to work on this technique. I read that I could use macro diopters to get closer, but that is for another day, another post.