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Shaun Hunter | 05.01.2019

Lensbaby Burnside 35 Camera Lens specs

  • Focal length: 35mm
  • Aperture: f/2.8-f/16
  • Focusing distance: 15.2cm/6in to infinity
  • Filter thread: 62mm
  • Weight: 13.2 oz
  • Compatible with mounts: Canon EF, Nikon F, Sony E, Sony Alpha A, Fuji X, Micro 4/3, Pentax K, Samsung NX

 

Where to Buy

Price: $499.95 • LensBaby | Amazon | B&H Photo | Adorama

Note: Links direct to Canon mounts. Mounts are also available for Nikon DSLR systems and Sony E, Fuji X, and Micro mirrorless systems. 

The Bottom Line: The Lensbaby Burnside 35 is a 35-millimeter fixed focal length creative lens built to give users the option to add varying degrees of swirly bokeh effect and vignetting to the outer edges of their photos. The fully manual lens builds upon Lensbaby's creative lens line, using six coated elements with six- and eight-blade dual diaphragms to allow for varying and fully adjustable amounts of creative swirl and vignetting.

 


The swirl and vignette effect of the Burnside 35. Shaun Hunter.

Before we get going, I just want to state that I used this lens on a Canon 6Dii full-frame camera. I imagine the experience will be the same on most camera bodies, but I wanted to be clear and thorough as to how I experienced using this lens.

For those unfamiliar with Lensbaby, they manufacture rugged and high-quality lenses usually catering to a specific type of creative effect. The Burnside 35's specialty is to let the user have a wide amount of control over the swirling and vignetting effect around the outer edges of the frame. This means that while the center of the image remains sharp, shooting with the Burnside 35 allows one to choose from a minimally swirled outer edge to a dizzying swirl that almost bends the edges of the photo around the center of the frame.

After initial use, I had some reservations about this lens. However, over time, this has become a favorite to pack with me, and it produces out some great images if the shooter knows how to use it.

First off, this is a completely manual lens. This means that there's no option for putting the camera settings on Auto mode for the aperture, ISO, or auto-focus. I've always been of the school of thought that shooting in manual mode leads to having a better understanding of your camera and more control over your images, which has come in handy while using this lens. All lens settings are made on the lens itself—there is no information transferred between the lens and your camera body, so shutter speed is the only thing that you can adjust on the camera body.

Aperture is set on the lens, and typically I'll set focus manually using my camera's Live View function. The lens has one more slider, which is the gold button that slides into one of four indexed positions to control the amount of bokeh swirl and vignette in the frame.

This slider can be opened all the way, making the pictures turn out completely normally, as if taken through a standard lens. However, the fun of a lens like this is cranking the effects up; an aperture of f/2.8 or f/4 combined with the bokeh slider in the two highest of the four positions really makes the subject pop.

This lens' strength is expressed when the photo has a clear subject. The bokeh and vignette is adjusted to really wrap itself around the perimeter and make the subject really stand out. Those with an interest in photographing portraits and nature scenes will find that this has the potential to add a beautiful effect that really causes the viewer to focus on the subject while everything seems to fade away in the margins.

This brings me to the lens' main weakness: The subject must always be centered. The rule of thirds and creative composition doesn't apply here, since any swirling effect will apply uniformly to the entire perimeter. If you know that going into it, you can simply adjust your images accordingly.

Shooting with wispy background matter near the subject really brings out what this lens can do. For instance, tall grass or thin tree trunks be be made to really distort and bend, giving the effect of encircling the subject in the center of the frame.

A lens like this lends itself to experimentation, and I've found that having a human subject in a natural environment can really achieve a great look and tends to be my favorite use of this. But it is fun to play with, and the construction of the lens creates the potential for an amount of bokeh and swirl that digital post-processing and editing would not be able to achieve.

Browse the pictures. I edited them minimally in order to demonstrate the lens' capability with raw, out-of-camera images, which can be played with and edited from there to really amp up the final look.

To sum it up, the Lensbaby Burnside 35 is a unique and strong addition to a photographer's arsenal, and while it took some time to really understand the lens' strengths, it now lives in my camera bag not as a primary or an everyday lens, but a specialty lens that will produce some ethereal and artistic images when used to its full potential.

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