Lensbaby Burnside 35mm F2.8
Construction and Handling
The Lensbaby Burnside 35 is certainly a departure from the company’s first prototype made out of a vacuum cleaner hose. Like its sibling the Velvet 56mm F1.6, the Burnside has all the hallmarks of a “regular” lens. With a reasonably small size and weight, the 35mm F2.8 compares well with similar lenses from other manufacturers.
This section will give you a complete tour of the lens, from every angle. You will also see the lens alongside other comparable lenses and mounted on various camera bodies.
The front element includes a relatively small glass element surrounded by metal. There are no marks or indications at the front.
The lens uses a relatively large 62mm filter thread.
The lens cap is a thin and elegant metal push-on cap, adding a premium feel to the lens. The inside borders are covered with smooth felt. At first, the cap was particularly tight and was difficult to insert and remove.. After some use, it slides more easily but still fits snugly.
Right at the front is the secondary aperture which we will discuss later. The front element is deeply recessed inside the lens, minimizing the need for a lens hood.
The body of the lens is made entirely of metal. There is nothing cheap about this lens, quite the contrary. The build quality is surprisingly high-end, with an arguably beautiful general look, no loose parts and two easy to operate rings. We would have liked the markings to be engraved instead of printed but have no reason to believe they won’t stand the test of time. The lettering is functional and elegant.
Being a fully manual lens, the Burnside of course features an aperture ring, logically located at the bottom of the shaft, near the camera body. This ring features ribs for easy operation. Somewhat surprisingly the aperture ring only includes full-stop clicks: it is not possible to adjust the aperture in fractions of stops.The distance between each click varies as the aperture closes.
Above and to the left is the golden lever operating the secondary iris. This lever goes to fully open (away from the center of the lens) to fully closed (nearer the center) with two notches at intermediate positions. It is possible to place the slider at any position in-between; the notches are only there to help the photographer use repeatable settings. Next to that lever is the lens name printed in bold letters.
The next element is the focus ring. Large and ribbed, it also features distance markings in meters and feet.
The topmost section is devoid of markings except for the filter size indication at the back.
The lens extends slightly when focusing at close distances.
The Burnside uses a dual system of aperture, a rather unique feature which definitely sets the lens apart from anything else.
The regular aperture is deep inside the lens, at the aperture stop. It is made of 6 straight blades.
The secondary aperture is the most interesting. Located at the front, just below the first optical element, it is made of 8 blades and controlled by the golden lever. This lever’s effect is immediately visible, as seen on the picture above.
The lens mount is metal. There are no protections against water ingress, and absolutely no mechanical or electronic connections not even an aperture lever. Thanks to this, insertion on the camera mount is particularly easy and friction-less.
There is no supplied lens hood. Thanks to the recessed front element, a hood is probably not always necessary with this lens.
Compared to Other Lenses
Here is the Burnside 35mm F2.8 next to the Pentax FA 43mm Limited and DA 16-85mm.
Mounted on Camera
Below are images of the Burnside mounted on a Pentax K-1 (full frame) and a Pentax K-3 (APS-C). The lens looks well at home on the either bodies and balances well.
The Lensbaby Burnside 35mm F2.8 looks and feels excellent. Based on appearances alone, it feels deserving of its moderately high price. There is nothing cheap about it, its design is elegant and somewhat reminiscent of the Pentax M and A lines. Apart from the printed lettering, there are no cut corners on this lens.