My long standing relationship with Lensbaby as a fan, and friend has rewarded me again with the ability to use and review the Burnside 35mm f/2.8 dual aperture lens. I was asked to play around with the new Burnside 35, but as is always the case here, all my opinions are purely that. Mine. I don’t get paid (unfortunately) to do this, nor was it required that I write up a fluff piece, so while I do have a soft spot for the local, independent Portland based company, I’m also in no way contractually required to like their stuff. As you’ll read, I don’t hold back criticism where I see fit. Lensbaby tends to get the online readers divided based on perception that cameras and lenses need to test off the charts in all ways, and anything that isn’t trying to accomplish that should be burned at the stake. If that’s what you’re after, feel free to argue scientific test charts somewhere else, also, I feel a little sorry that the joy of photography has seemingly evaporated in your life, assuming it was ever there to begin with. I’m not saying you need to like the weird, wild and quirky, but you certainly don’t need to piss in the cereal of those who enjoy creating different effects in camera. The true beauty of free will is just that. We all get to decide what we like, and I often like in camera effects. …okay, are all the curmudgeony troll pessimist chart nazis grumpy enough to have clicked away? Good.
In an industry that provides me with my very favorite of hobbies, the idea of perceived perfection in performance is often the benchmark. To this end, I too am guilty in that I often look for and test to make sure I have the best optics for whichever sensor I happen to have invested in. Often times, when we as photographers focus on measurable optical metrics, we can lose sight of the artistic, creative outlet that visual art such as photography can provide us. As the old adage goes as far as skill and creativity are concerned, sharpness is overrated.
I like to explore photography from a very large spectrum of angles, and find I enjoy myself most when I change my vantage from time to time. I don’t feel photography is one thing, and certainly feel for me that if it only provided me with one type of result, I’d not be nearly as happy. I like variety, I like difference, I like weird. For those who’ve been around for a while, you’ll probably remember articles I’ve written about Lensbaby products, and how the company resides just down the road from me. Back when this was a fledgling little blog, they offered me many opportunities to beta test new optics, and provide fodder for those looking for adaptable optics for their (at the time, young, new) mirrorless system cameras.
Say hello to the Lensbaby Trio 28mm f/3.5 lens. Three unique Lensbaby optics, built into a single lens for mirrorless systems, and I’ve been loving it. C’mon in for some examples and comparisons…
GoPro users rejoice! Lensbaby has just launched a campaign to release their brand new 180+ degree circular fisheye lens for GoPro action cameras. It looks like it will be a great lens for GoPro system users who may want that wider angle that a circular fisheye produces for underwater video, general tomfoolery or to produce some cool, surreal drone footage. Jump on the train to be one of the first pledgers to get it for only $69.
See the release from Lensbaby below:
GoPro® cameras are amazing. The fixed lens however can be limiting. Lensbaby’s new Circular 180+ lens, packed with 185 degrees of AWESOME, will make you want to pull that GoPro® out and see your adventures like you’ve never seen before.
Lensbaby’s Circular 180+ lens creates fully circle fisheye videos and images with huge depth of field letting you capture the soul of your adventures with a fully immersive field of view. Attaching to the current waterproof housing on GoPro® Hero cameras, the Circular 180+ captures a 185 degree window on the world, wider than the human eye can see with unprecedented depth of field – subjects nearly touching the front of the lens are sharp along with everything else in the image.
With its 185 degree field of view, intense depth, tack sharp edge-to-edge focus plus its small, rugged design this lens will go anywhere you want to go. Back in now on Kickstarter to get your lens in time for summer shooting: http://lensba.by/kickstarter_circular180
I have no stake to claim here, no money on the table, no skin in the game. Just wanting to spread the Lensbaby gospel because I like the company and the folks that work there. They’re awesome. Click the link above to see sample footage and hear from Craig, the co-founder of Lensbaby as he explains what led to them developing this lens.
Lensbaby’s optical engineers have done it again. After moving away from the toy camera replication type lenses into more complicatedly designed optics with lenses like the Sweet 35 and 50, Edge 50 and 80 and the Velvet 56, they’ve replicated the swirly vortex of the old Joseph Petzval designed optic from 174 years ago with this new Twist 60. Don’t dismiss this lens as pure kitsch, as it is remarkably sharp where you’d want it for a portrait lens (middle frame) and while, wide open you’ll see some pretty severe vignetting to go along with the twirly bokeh, this adds to its charm and vintage qualities. Portrait painters of yesteryear used many different brushes to create their renditions, and this can certainly be seen as a wonderfully specialized brush for the portrait photographer, along with those looking to add some fun to shots of any kind.
While perhaps not an effect to suit everyone’s taste, it is one that has found a place for certain portrait and fine art photographers looking to add in camera effects to visibly differentiate their look. With other companies seeing the value in chasing this corner of the market with lenses like the Kickstarter Petzval clone and the Trioplan Soap bokeh lenses that are looking to be launched on the market, it’s obvious that there is some demand for these newer versions of throwback optical designs. The question though, is how much are photographers looking for these optical effects willing to pay?
Priced at a very modest $280 for the Twist 60 Lens (optic and non-tilting metal lens body housing) available in Canon EF, Nikon F and Sony E mount, or $180 for the optic solely, the Twist 60 is certainly worth a look. You can find it at Adorama HERE, B&H HERE or directly through Lensbaby HERE.
C’mon in for more example shots, some technical mumbo jumbo and my thoughts on this lens…
There has been a lot of buzz surrounding the newest lens in the Lensbaby family. The Velvet 56 offers a bit of a departure from what Lensbaby has been known by in that it has forgone the ability to selectively manipulate the plane of focus into a point or tangential plane, with most lenses offering the ability to be swapped into or out of one of their lens housing bodies like the Composer Pro, or Scout.
The new Velvet 56 is a solidly built, fixed focal length 56mm f/1.6 prime lens that has a different trick up its sleeve. In days of yore, many portrait photographers used lenses that would intentionally soften contrast and the overall image, aptly called “soft focus” lenses.
Enter the Velvet 56, and as its name suggests, it is as smooth as Barry White by candlelight. C’mon in for some sample shots and my thoughts…
Now, I’ve yet to get my mitts on a Velvet 56 of my own, but I plan to, and I’ll review the crap out of it when I do 🙂 In the mean time, check out the announcement by Lensbaby today:
Lensbaby Announces Availability of Fuji X Mounts for Flagship Lenses
Company also adds popular mirrorless mounts for hugely successful Velvet 56 portrait lens
It came down to a foot race at the end, and Giorgio Lumaconi emerged victorious with his image “bookmark”. Congratulations to Giorgio and I’ll be in contact to get you your free stuff!
Please visit Giorgio HERE to see more of his work, and to connect, say hi, make friends with, follow… you know.
Thank you so much, to Jimmy and the folks at Alien Skin Software, and Darcy and the team at Topaz Software for generously providing us the ability to give away killer photography software, and to Keri and crew at Lensbaby my friends and hometown lens manufacturing gurus, for the LM10 smartphone, selective focus optic! All wonderful people and companies, that have always been awesome in their support of me and my blogging adventures. I chose to contact them while still in my blog infancy because I loved their products. I choose to continue to buy from, use their wares and shill for them because I know them and how hard they work for and within the greater photographic community, so thank you all.
Giorgio will also receive a brand new Cascade style wrist strap. I am working on having these available to purchase very soon and will be an addition to the Garda style wrist straps currently available HERE.
Finally, thank you to Heather and Mat at Mirrorlessons, my partners in crime for these monthly challenges. We have really enjoyed being able to grow the community through these theme based photo challenges and look forward to continuing to.
If you’re new to the monthly flickr photo blog challenges, visit us on Flickr –
Keep an eye out for our monthly theme threads. It’s a fun, free way to connect with other photographers worldwide, it can be fun motivation to get out and shoot, and get your photography seen by an ever growing audience.
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Keep on keepin’ on, and happy shooting.