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© Ute Reckhorn

© Ute Reckhorn

What’s So “Sweet” About The Lensbaby Sweet 22

  • 6 min read

I’m going to start right off by saying, Lensbaby has done it again! If you’re reading this, then I’m sure you’ve seen by now that Lensbaby has officially released its latest lens, the Sweet 22, to their amazing lineup. I was fortunate enough to be one of the beta testers for this wonderful lens and I can confidently say that within just a couple of times shooting with it, I completely fell in love and it’s become my new go-to lens. Yeah, it’s that awesome!


The Sweet 22 is a wide-angle 22mm manual lens with a fixed aperture of 3.5. It is small, compact, and lightweight. Now, you may be wondering what exactly the sweet effect is that its name alludes to. For this specific lens, I would best describe the effect as a small circle of sharp
focus fixed in the center of the lens with an exuberant amount of blur surrounding it. The Sweet 22 actually offers a smaller sweet spot and more blur than any other lens Lensbaby currently offers. Worth mentioning as I’m describing the lens here is that it does add a slight vignette to the image you capture. The vignette doesn’t completely fade to black and fully darken the edges of your frame, making it a more subtle effect. With both the fixed spot of focus and vignetting in mind, one of my main tips when using this lens is to always keep cropping the image in post- processing in mind. Cropping the edges of your frame in just a bit allows you to eliminate any of the vignetting you don’t want in your image, while further cropping lets you move that sweet spot of focus around. I can crop my image to have the focus fall on the rule of thirds, for example, rather than right in the center



Alright, so now that we’ve got some specific details aside, what’s so “sweet” about the Sweet 22? I’m going to share my personal top five highlights of this lens with you!


The Blur: Possibly my very favorite thing about the Sweet 22 is all of the gorgeous, creamy, deep blur that it adds to your images. It’s magical! Blur fills the frame outside of the spot of focus which adds a dreamy, almost ethereal feel that really enhances the visual impact of the image. I use selective focus very often in my work as a storytelling technique (more on that specifically in a bit), so I really love how the heavy blur fits into that. Another bonus is that it allows you to eliminate any potential distractions and unwanted elements in the frame that would otherwise detract from the subject of your image. The amount of blur simply adds that “wow” factor to an image and it’s something I have found super unique to this lens


The Versatility: While testing this lens, I’ve discovered that it’s so good for several different subjects and types of photography, both from my own experimentation and the work I’ve seen of other beta testers as well. I primarily shoot documentary/lifestyle work of my children and home, as well as macro and nature photography. I appreciate how this lens is versatile enough for me to capture all of it without having to switch lenses if I am looking to shoot creatively with this specific effect. In fact, I was able to really test this out when my family went on a trip last year. The Sweet 22 was the single Lensbaby lens I brought along with me on our adventures to the zoo and a museum. I was so impressed that I was able to capture everything from details in the museum, to animals at the zoo, to my children exploring, and more broad scenes of it all as well. The sky really was the limit! And the best part? When shooting with this lens, I am even able to get some macro captures in there as well. With a minimum focusing distance of about 4 inches in front of the lens, I can capture those close up images that I enjoy and I don’t even have to fumble around with and add my Lensbaby macro filters.


The Light: One of my favorite surprises when shooting with the Sweet 22 was (and continues to be) seeing what it does with light. It’s been especially fun to see how the effect/blur manipulates any light that happens to fall within the image, whether it be city lights, Christmas lights, sunlight filtering in through trees, you name it. Because of the effect of the heavy blur, it really pulls, stretches, and contorts the light in beautiful and unique ways. With that, it has the potential to add so much fun detail and visual interest to the image. This lens will always be coming with me when I know I am going to have interesting light to capture.



The Size: Have I mentioned yet that I absolutely love how small and compact the Sweet 22 is? I am often chasing around my four young children and toting around about fifty other things with me on our family adventures, or I’m out in nature capturing a detail shot of a flower and needing to keep my hand steady, so having a bulkier lens on my camera can get in the way of those things. This lens is so lightweight that shooting with it is a breeze and it doesn’t bog me down in the least. Another bonus? You really can bring it with you everywhere! There is no having to compromise and play the “I can’t decide which Lensbaby’s to bring” game with this one, because I can almost guarantee you will always have enough room to pop it into some crevice
of your camera bag. No having to miss out on opportunities shooting with this lens!



The Storytelling: You really can create and tell the most beautiful stories with this lens. It’s something that keeps me reaching for it time and again. The magical blur and bokeh that surrounds the tack sharp spot of focus lends so well to allowing you to bring the viewers eye right to and singling out your intended subject. Something that I love to capture most in my work are details. I am all about seeking out and photographing whatever unique details are around me. I mentioned above that my favorite storytelling technique is selective focus (a technique in which only your subject remains in focus, typically a small/precise area, while the rest of your image is out of focus), and that is something so easily achieved with this lens. Because of the
sweet effect and resulting blur, I have the ability to leave out any of those potentially distracting elements in my frame and let them fall into the blur while being able to hone in specifically on my subject, whatever detail or piece of the story from the scene before me I am trying to highlight. It’s as if this lens was made for just that!


Sweet 22- ISO 125, 1/320 sec, f/3.

While I could share so much moreabout my love for this lens and why I enjoy it, I want to take a moment here in wrapping up to share just a few tips of mine when shooting with the Sweet 22:

Tip #1: The less busy the background, the softer the blur and bokeh will appear. The busier the background, the more the blur and bokeh will be enhanced.

Tip #2: When you have interesting light patterns in your scene or as a subject (like a Christmas tree or lights on a building), experiment with out of focus captures. This lens has the ability to create the loveliest bokeh, and an out of focus image can enhance it even more.

Tip #3: Pair with Lensbaby’s macro filters and OMNI’s to capture even more creatively with the
Sweet 22!




I hope that you’ve found all of this helpful! The Sweet 22 truly is such a fun lens to get to know and shoot with. I feel that every time I experiment with it I’m discovering something new to love and appreciate. The possibilities for unique creative expression and artistry truly are endless with this incredible lens. I’m so thrilled that Lensbaby has created the Sweet 22 to “shoot extraordinary” with!


Megan Heinen

Megan is a hobbyist, published photographer living life under the big sky of Montana with her loving husband and four precious children. She is most inspired by and passionate about photographing the joy and beauty that lies in the everyday, ordinary moments and God's gorgeous creation around her. When she’s not playing family historian and documenting the
details and moments of her family's life, you'll likely find her outdoors doing macro photography and capturing all things nature. Her work reflects her enthusiasm in chasing light and shadows and a love for B&W imagery. In Megan's camera bag you’ll find a Nikon Z6ii, a prime lens or
two, and always her trusty Lensbaby gear.



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