Some Initial Thoughts On
The Lensbaby Burnside 35mm

Is There a Place for the burnside in Fujifilm kits?

Lensbaby has been in the lens game for a long time, and throughout their history, they have been bringing lenses to market that offers photographers a unique look for their creative vision that they can produce optically, in camera without the need for photoshop filters. This was, and still is to an extent, a thought process that runs against the grain of the ever popular ‘fix it in the post’ mindset that so many digital photographers use on a daily basis.

Their latest offering to the creative/artistic lens category is a really popular focal length and offers their users the ability to control the effect of the lens with a special filter slider. This makes the Lensbaby Burnside 35mm F2.8 an interesting lens on many fronts, and today I wanted to quickly share some thoughts on this lens after having tested the Fujifilm X-Mount version out over the course of the last few weeks.
Lensbaby Burnside 35mm
The Lensbaby Burnside 35mm next to Fujifilm’s Flagship X-H1

The Burnside 35mm F/2.8 comes with a native Fujifilm X-Mount, so you won’t need any adapters or what not in order for it to work on your X-Series camera (like the X-H1, X-T2, X-Pro2, etc). However, it is a ‘dummy’ lens, which means that there are no contacts on the lens, so there is no communication between the lens and the camera. This is not uncommon for Lensbaby lenses, they are usually all manual, but it is important to note if you are interested in this lens. It is also worth mentioning that this lens comes with many native mounts, it’s not known which mount it was originally designed for (one could guess Canon or Nikon) but effectively this lens is just has a built-in X-Mount adapter.

It is built very well and feels like a solid lens, and thanks to the black exterior this should fit well on any camera you put it on without looking too out of place. But what really sets the Lensbaby Burnside 35mm apart is its capability; with an F/2.8 aperture, it is fairly slow for a prime lens, especially a prime lens of this size. So what makes it special?

Basically, it has two apertures or diaphragms, one controls the amount of creative ‘swirly bokeh’ that the lens produces, and the other is your more traditional aperture diaphragm that controls the exposure and DOF of your image. This is not the first lens with this sort of tech, but what makes this lens unique is that you can actually control that second diaphragm, allowing you to control how swirly the out of focus areas of your image is.

Lensbaby Burnside 35mm

LENSBABY BURNSIDE 35MM SAMPLES

So that is what the Lensbaby Burnside IS, but how about its performance? Well, this is what the Lensbaby Burnside DOES:

So as you can see in that those examples, this is a lens that can give you a fairly standard look for a 35mm lens at a given aperture, or it can give you this crazy, creative, almost unreal looking bokeh that almost gives off the impression that the outer edges of the frame are swirling around the center of the frame, which remains relatively ‘standard’ in its appearance and sharpness.

But speaking overall, this is a lens that may disappoint some of you sharpness snobs. When shot for the maximum swirly effect wide open this lens is what I feel most would consider to be fairly soft. Which is not necessarily a bad thing, there is a reason that company’s product soft focus lenses. In some cases and for some photographers, that softer look is what they are going for. However, in today’s market, a ‘soft’ lens like this may be hard to sell to the masses.

Lensbaby Burnside 35mm

Then when you consider the pricing on this lens, at close to $500 I almost feel like you really need to want this effect in order to invest in a lens like this. It’s not that the lens is not worth what they are asking; the build quality and the ability to control that bokeh is worth that alone. But if you don’t need a lens to do this effect often, I can’t see the $500 as being justified in most kits (there are simply better and more useful lenses most people could add to their kits at this price point). If they could have kept the price closer to the $350 range +/-, I think this lens could have made a lot more sense.

That said, Lensbaby lenses have always been a bit of a niche product, so I really shouldn’t be surprised that this Burnside 35mm F2.8 also follows that trend.

Lensbaby Burnside 35mm

I am looking forward to playing with this some more, and while I am not the biggest fan of the effect in the situations that I have tried it on so far, I can definitely see how this could be really awesome if used in the right environment and with the right background. Stay tuned for some more thoughts in my final review of this lens.

LENSBABY BURNSIDE 35mm F2.8 // PRODUCT GALLERY
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