Janet Broughton Still Life with Burnside 35

Longtime Lensbaby photographer and workshop teacher Janet Broughton has already spent quality time with the new Burnside 35. In this post, she looks at how the Burnside 35 performs for her still life photography. 

Lensbaby sent me a Burnside 35 to try out ahead of its launch. I had it for a week or two that coincided with a busy period, so I 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.”

I’m not a wide shooter naturally, especially 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 been a few inches wider, a bit of cloning to fill in the gaps was required.

I was really impressed with the color rendition of the Burnside 35 for still life. I have a few favorite presets that give me film-like tones that I love, but I could really use these images straight from the camera. In the 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. Image 3 has no vignette and 4 has a full vignette added in camera.

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 a half vignette (technically there isn’t a half since there are four notches on the slider but I’d forgotten and positioned it halfway!).

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 center, the swirl in the bokeh and how the image softens at the edges (note the feet compared to the body).

A couple more images, below,  that again have just a slight tweak to the tone curve.

And finally, a few more that I have edited further in Lightroom with color toning, but no added vignettes!

All images were taken on a full frame Sony A99.

Here are my 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. If I adjust the background, the cup becomes wonky as a result of the distortion from the wide angle lens.

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

To find out more about the Burnside 35, 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?

Finally, read my second blog about Burnside 35 — First Impressions, By the Sea.

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