The Sterile Look: The Problems with Camera Lenses Being Too Good

When you look at camera lenses made for photographers, we can all say that they’ve arguably become better and better. Lenses today are sharper than they’ve ever been, more contrasty, able to keep lens flare down, and able to render incredible colors. Part of this came from marketing and everyone who believes they are an expert on the internet involving lab test scores to compete for the favor of many. This ultimately translates into awards and sales. This is fine in some ways, but the problem is lenses eventually start becoming something designed too much for engineers and those who don’t necessarily know better, and less for the actual photographers themselves. If you peruse any Facebook group with the more experienced photographers, you’ll see that they bring their own creative vision to life using software and lighting in their own ways.

This is the inherent problem with photography these days. What am I talking about?

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Five Wide Angle Lenses Under $500 for Landscape Photographers

Lots of landscape photographers love shooting wide–but they also don’t like to pack too heavy. With the maturation of mirrorless cameras have also come the further development of great lenses from those companies. At the same time though, no photographer wants to spend way too much money. In all honesty, most modern optics are so good that you don’t really need to.

We’ve gone through our Reviews Index to find a few wide angle gems for the landscape photographers out there while keeping the budget to under $500.

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Review: Lensbaby Twist 60 f2.5 (Canon EF)

Additional reporting done by Chris Gampat

Lensbaby has always been a company that does things just a bit different from the rest. Such is the case with the company’s Twist 60mm f2.5 lens. It’s well built and in the right situations can deliver beautiful photos that will really make your jaw drop. At the same time though, it’s not for everyone. This lens is based off of the old Petzval schematics–and you should be willing to embrace that with this lens.

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The Lensbaby Twist 60 Lens is a Brand New Petzval Lens

Lomography isn’t the only company anymore trying to get into the Petzval world; because today Lensbaby is announcing their new Twist 60 lens. This lens is inspired by the original Petzval lenses and is designed for full frame cameras.

The Twist 60 is a 60mm f2.5 lens with gold anodized accents. Like other Petzval designs, it has swirly bokeh and the wider the aperture, the wider the bokeh will be. It’s also got 12 aperture blades (which is insane) 4 elements in three groups, a 45mm filter thread, and can focus as closely as 18 inches.

According to the press release, the Twist 60 lens retails for $279.95 and is available via pre-order beginning April 12, 2016 (shipping May 5th, 2016). Twist 60 Optic will also be sold separately for use with other Lensbaby Optic Swap System-compatible lenses. It retails for $179.95 and comes in Sony E mount, Nikon F mount and Canon EF mount.

creates powerful portraits, spotlighting subjects by freeing them from their background and surrounding them with swirly blur and enhanced vignette. The brighter the aperture, the greater the swirl and the greater the vignette.

Sample photos are after the jump.

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Lensbaby Releases New Edge 50 Optic

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Lensbaby Composer Pro II review product images (9 of 9)ISO 4001-250 sec

Though it’s already been available with the Composer Pro II. Lensbaby is now retailing the Edge 50 Optic by itself. It’s a 50mm f3.5 aperture optic with 9 aperture blades. The 50 can focus as closely as 8” from the front of the lens and its design incorporates 8 multi-coated glass elements in 6 groups.

The Edge 50 Optic offers full frame 35mm coverage, so you can mount it onto a Sony FE mount camera and get full coverage of the scene. Wide open, it’s also much sharper than much of Lensbaby’s previous optics. When stopped down, it can pretty much hold its own with other modern lenses.

They’re available now for $224 when sold individually. They’re quite a bit more with the Composer Pro II. You can check out the review to see if it’s something worthwhile for you.

Sample images (from my review) are after the jump.

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Eight Lenses for Photographing Engagement Sessions

Mary and Tommy's Engagement (27 of 46)ISO 100

Shooting engagement sessions is one way to start to dip your toe into eventually photographing weddings. The session typically tells some sort of story in a way that combines aspects of photojournalism and portraiture, and it’s designed to make the happy couple not only become more excited about marriage but also to be put on the wedding invitations. After you’ve spoken with and planned the session with your couple, you’ll need to get the right gear.

Here are a couple of lenses that we recommend from our reviews index.

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Lensbaby Now Making Flagship Lenses for Fujifilm X Mount

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Lensbaby Fujifilm Announcement (2 of 2)ISO 4001-125 sec at f - 6.3

Lensbaby has been creating lenses for DSLRs and many mirrorless camera systems for a while now, but today they’re announcing that their higher end lenses will be available for Fujifilm X series users. This includes the Composer Pro with Sweet 35 optic, Sweet 50 Optic, Circular Fisheye and Velvet 56 Portrait lens. Of all of these, we’re most excited about the portrait lens due to the fact that Fujifilm is lacking a bit there in terms of what’s available to users. Considering how soft these lenses are wide open, you’re going to want to stop them down to take full advantage of what the X Trans sensor is capable of doing.

Fujifilm cameras also have focus peaking, and that makes manually focusing with these lenses easier especially when you combine this with the APS-C sensor. At a given aperture, more will be in focus as opposed to with a full frame sensor.

Of course, the lenses won’t have AF communication chips, so it will be just like shooting an adapted lens except that you don’t need to use an adapter.

Prices for each lens will be the same, and availability is immediate at your favorite photo retailer.