I splurged on a LensBaby Burnside 35mm/f2.8

I have a few Lensbaby products such as the 50mm and the 35mm on the compozer body but never really got around to liking them. Turns out Lensbaby also have real lenses with real mounts and real glass! Read about the LB Burnside 35mm and its swirly bokeh a few years ago but managed to curb my LBA until now.

The COVID lockdown has me bored out of my skull when I’m not working from my home office and this year’s bonus left me a little bit of wiggle-room - so I hit the purchase button. Today I took it out on a first try while walking the dog in a nearby park. I can see quite a learning curve here - to tease out the effect a lot of things have to happen simultaneously - light, lens to subject distance, subject to background distance, type of background etc. etc. But I could learn to like this lens a lot!

First impressions are:

  • Reasonable price for a 35mm optic
  • Solid metal build and mount, none of this plasticky Lensbaby stuff
  • Extreme long throw of focusing ring
  • Very deeply recessed front element makes shooting without hood feasible
  • Solid clicks on both aperture rings (yes, there are TWO sets of aperture blades)

Both images shot on the Pentax KP (APS-C so on FF the effect could be far more pronounced), lens fully open at f2.8 and secondary aperture blades at the maximum closed position. The PEF raw files were converted in Darktable 3.4.1 (on Manjaro) and a bit of twiddling with levels, curves and sharpness in Gimp (2.10.22) did the rest. Click through on the below images for the bigger versions of my own webalbum hosted with Piwigo software on my own webspace. (and feel free to peruse the rest of the albums of course!)


Nice gallery!


Personally I’m not a fan of the swirly bokeh, but if I put that aside I have to say that the first shot looks really nice, especially for a ‘reasonable’ priced lens, both main subject sharpness and the (ugly :rofl: ) swirlyness.

I’m not so sure about the second shot though, there’s probably too much lightness/sky to make this bokeh work. This is a subject issue and not a lens issue, but it does tell something about the user having to be careful when to use this kind of lens.

Anyway: Thanks for writing this down, appreciated!