Lensbaby Burnside 35 – First Impressions, Still Life

If you’ve read this post you will already know that the guys at Lensbaby sent me a Lensbaby Burnside 35 to try out ahead of it’s launch. I’ve had it for a week or two but it’s co-incided with a busy period so I’ve only had a couple of opportunities to shoot with it.

Here is how Lensbaby describe the Burnside 35:

“The first ever wide angle adaptation of the Petzval lens design, this 35mm f/2.8 lens creates images with a large, bright central area of sharp focus and striking color rendition surrounded by variable, swirling bokeh and vignette. It also features an effect slider that operates as a second internal iris that changes the shape and amount of swirl in the bokeh; all while adding or removing vignette and center brightness.”

You’ll also know if you read the previous post that I’m not a natural wide shooter, this is especially true for my still life photography where I rarely shoot with anything wider than the Velvet 56. The obvious drawback of shooting still life at 35mm is that you need wide backgrounds too, my backdrop is wide enough but the board I was using as a base really could have done with being a few inches wider, a bit of cloning to fill in the gaps is required.

I was really impressed with the colour rendition of the Burnside 35 for still life, I have a few favourite presets that give me film like tones that I love but I could really use these images straight from the camera. In these four comparison images below I’ve done nothing other than open the Raw file and save as a Jpeg!

Images 1 and 2 are shot at f4 and then f2.8. Images 3 and 4 are both shot at f2.8, 3 has no vignette and 4 has a full vignette added in camera.

Lensbaby Burnside 35 Review

And these three, comparing the effect of the vignette slider have only had the slightest tone curve tweak. All are shot at f2.8, the first has a full vignette, the second no vignette and the third had half vignette (technically there isn’t a half since there are four notches on the slider but I’d forgotten and positioned it halfway!).

Lensbaby Burnside 35 Review

Lensbaby Burnside 35 Review

Lensbaby Burnside 35 Review

Below is another image that has no adjustments other than converting the Raw file. I’ve included this one as it shows the bright sharp centre, the swirl in the bokeh and how the image softens at the edges (note the feet compared to the body).

Lensbaby Burnside 35 Review

A couple more images that again have just a slight tweak to the tone curve:

Lensbaby Burnside 35 Review

And finally a few more that I have edited further in Lightroom with colour toning (but no added vignettes!):

Lensbaby Burnside 35 Review

Lensbaby Burnside 35 Review

Lensbaby Burnside 35 Review

Lensbaby Burnside 35 Review

Lensbaby Burnside 35 Review

(All images taken on a full frame Sony A99.)

Final thoughts…..

Any 35mm lens on a full frame camera will have some drawbacks for still life photography, as I mentioned above you can’t get away with narrow backgrounds and there will also be some distortion due to the wider angle. If you look at the right side of the background in the last image above you can see a curve that needs straightening but if I adjust it the cup becomes wonky, that’s the distortion of a wide angle lens.

Despite those drawbacks this is still a lens that I would use in my still life photography, I love the colours and the way the sharpness drops off as you move away from the centre of the screen.

To find out more about the Burnside 35 please visit the Lensbaby website, if you are in the north west of England and would like to try out a range of Lensbaby lenses and optics why not book one of my Lensbaby Training Days?

And if you’ve missed my other “first impressions” post you can find it here.