While the Sweet 35 and Sweet 50 provide the same type of effect, Sweet 80 is better suited for portrait photography, with a focal length just shy of the common 85mm portrait lens. It provides a strikingly different look than Lensbaby’s other portrait-specific product, the Velvet 85. Although the maximum aperture of f/2.8 is slow compared to most 85mm lenses, the Lensbaby Sweet 80 still achieves very noticeable subject and background separation thanks to the sweet spot effect.
Like the previous lenses in the Sweet series, the Sweet 80 uses an internal, 12-blade iris that creates a circular aperture at any f-stop. As with other Lensbaby products, aperture and focus are both controlled manually, and no communication happens between the lens and the camera. That means no lens metadata is saved with your images, so if you want to remember your exposure settings, you best bring a log book and a sharpened pencil with you. But that’s all part of the fun, isn’t it?
The sweet spot look can help make the right subjects pop, but it’s certainly not an effect most photographers will want all the time. Fortunately, Lensbaby has priced the Sweet 80 accordingly. For $380, you can pick it up with a Composer Pro II in the mount of your choosing (Nikon, Canon, Sony A, Sony E, Pentax, Micro Four Thirds, Fujifilm, and even Samsung). For current Composer users, the Sweet 80 optic on its own is just $200.
Lensbaby also announced the Creative Bokeh Optic today, which is a 50mm lens that combines an internal, 12-blade aperture with drop-in apertures with different shapes to provide creative blur patterns. It will sell for just $100 and requires a Composer Pro II or other optic swap system holder.
The Lensbaby Sweet 80 and Creative Bokeh optic are expected to begin shipping in October.