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© Ute Reckhorn

© Ute Reckhorn

Janet Broughton Burnside 35 By the Sea


  • 4 min read

Janet Broughton Burnside 35 by the Sea

Longtime Lensbaby photographer and workshop teacher Janet Broughton has already spent some time with the new Burnside 35. To test the lens out, she went to Anthony Gormleys Another Place, an art installation that is comprised of 100 castiron statues scattered along a UK beach. These Janet Broughton Burnside 35 photos-- and her take on the lens-- are not to be missed!

Those lovely Lensbaby people kindly sent me a Burnside 35 lens to try out ahead of its official launch, and Im very excited to share my thoughts and first impressions.

So what is the Burnside 35? Below is the description from Lensbaby themself:

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.

I know that there are lots of photographers who are going to be so excited at the launch of a 35mm Lensbaby art lens. For me, 35mm takes a bit of adjustment since Im naturally drawn to longer focal lengths. The Velvet 85 has been a firm favourite and is rarely off my camera.

My first opportunity to get out and about saw me heading off to the coast on a bitterly cold day. I decided to visit Crosby, a rather wonderful stretch of beach that is home to Anthony Gormleys Another Place, 100 castiron life-sized figures spread along the beach at different distances from the shore.

Before I share any images, I must point out the drawbacks of the day and location I chose first of all, it was cold, bitterly cold with an icy wind that blows right through you. Now, I actually love a cold day by the sea. Im not complaining, BUT it did mean that I wasnt able to take my gloves off. Id planned to shoot different apertures with and without the vignette and take notes on my phone, but that plan went out of the window! Then there was the light, it was beautifully soft and silvery, but not the best to show the wonderful colours of the Burnside. And the choice of location meant that there wasnt always enough texture and detail in the background to show the swirl of the bokeh.

One of the first things that struck me about the Burnside 35 is how beautifully it renders colours. Most of the images in this post have been edited in Lightroom using the presets that I generally use, but where there is colour in the scene, there isnt always a need for editing.

The image below was taken to show the colours of the Burnside. I shoot in RAW and have only made a slight tweak to the contrast and clarity:

This was shot at either f2.8 or f4 (I have a feeling its f2.8) with no in camera vignette added. Theres a lovely softness around the edges of the image and you can see the swirl in the bokeh, especially on the left where there is more detail in the background.

About that vignette slider What a great idea! I do like a bit of a vignette and often add it in Lightroom. If you do the same and have created presets with vignettes included, you will need to remember to remove them when editing or you will end up with a vignette thats too heavy. Its worth remembering that the vignette slider doesnt need to be on or off, its a four position slider so you can have a little or a lot of vignette. The first image below has a full vignette, and with a contrast boost it turned out a little heavy for my liking. The second image has a slight in camera vignette.

Its worth also noting that the full vignette isnt as heavy when you arent shooting towards the light. Youll need to experiment a little to find out what works for you.

And theres something about that central sharpness/colour/brightness combination that really lends itself to central compositions, something Ive never found in any other lens!

A further selection of images, some show that central bright area, others show the swirl of the bokeh and some just show what a great location Crosby is!

All images were taken on a full frame Sony A99.

I started the post by saying that Im not naturally a wide shooter and that the Velvet 85 is my go-to lens. After a few days with the Burnside 35, Im certainly going to be shooting wide a lot more than I have previously. Im not sure that it will replace the Velvet 85 as my favourite, but its certainly got a permanent place in my camera bag. I cant wait until we have some floral colour around to get out into the garden with it!

Ive also been trying out the Burnside 35 for still life photography. You can read that post here.

Visit Janet Broughton's website to learn more.

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