All about that bokeh: Lensbaby Twist 60 optic gives photos a Petzval-like spin on a shoestring budget


posted Tuesday, April 12, 2016 at 6:18 PM EDT


Want to give your portrait photos a really distinctive look? There can be few more eyecatching than the Petzval portrait lens invented in 1840 by German-Hungarian physicist and mathematician Joseph Petzval. Some 176 years later, his creation remains iconic thanks to the combination of sharp rendering at the center, and a unique bokeh which seems to spin and swirl around your subject towards the edges of the shot, helping to isolate your subject from its background while providing a look unlike that of modern optics.

Nowadays, you can get your hands on a Russian recreation of Petzval's famous optic for Canon or Nikon cameras from the folks at Lomography, in the form of the Kickstarter-funded and Zenit-produced Lomography New Petzval 85 Art lens, and a second such optic at the 58mm focal length will be shipping soon. While not unreasonable given their authentic build, the Lomography Petzval duo's pricing -- US$600 for the 85mm optic and US$750-850 for the 58mm -- will put them beyond the reach of a fair few enthusiastic amateur photographers, however. That's where Lensbaby steps in with its new Twist 60 optic.


Compatible with the company's Lensbaby Optic Swap System, the Twist 60 provides the Petzval look at a much lower pricetag. If you already have a Lensbaby Composer Pro or Pro II lens, you'll be able to swap in the Twist 60 optic at a cost of just US$180 or thereabouts. And even if you don't own any Lensbaby gear, a ready-to-shoot Twist 60 lens will carry a pretty affordable pricetag of US$280.

Promotional video for the Lensbaby Twist 60.

For that, you get a 60mm f/2.5 manually-focused optic with a 12-bladed aperture, able to focus from 18 inches to infinity, and for the best effect, you'll want to be shooting with a full-frame body. The Lensbaby Twist 60 lens is available in Canon EF, Nikon F and Sony E-mount variants, giving you quite a choice of compatible full-frame cameras. The lens has a black anodized body with a gold anodized aperture ring, and includes 46mm filter threads. A selection of images shot with the Twist 60 can be seen below.

Photo by Rachel Shomsky.

Photo by April Milani.

Photo by Rachel Shomsky.

Photo by Ana Rosenberg.

Photo by Ben Hutchinson.

Photo by Ana Rosenberg.

Availability of the Lensbaby Twist 60 lens or the Optic Swap System-compatible optic are set for May 5th, 2016. If you want one as soon as possible, you can preorder from IR affiliate B&H Photo Video and help support our site at no cost to you by using the links below:

Lensbaby Twist 60 for Canon EFLensbaby Twist 60 for Nikon F

Lensbaby Twist 60 for Sony ELensbaby Twist 60 for Optic Swap System