The LensBaby Trio 28 Lens. Super cool, super fun and affordable!
By Steve Huff
A Quick Look at the LensBaby Trio 28 (video)
You know, sometimes you just want to have fun with photography. Not everyone, every day goes out to shoot a masterpiece. Nor do we always need perfect glass, uber fast glass or any kind of perfection in our shots. In fact, I have always preferred character of a lens over perfection in a lens and while I admire both character and perfection, I use what is best for the job at hand. But after years and years of using high end glass, mid range glass and trying to find the best bang for the buck in lenses I recently stumbled upon something very unique and cool, if not quirky and nerdy.
CLICK ALL IMAGES IN THIS REVIEW FOR LARGER AND BETTER VERSIONS!
Using the “TWIST” setting this gives us some twisty swirly bokeh. It is actually based off of the Petzval lenses from long ago. But using this over a new Petzval is MUCH easier. It’s light, it’s small and easier to focus.
The LensBaby Trio 28 f/3.5 lens is something different as it houses three switchable lenses. Just TWIST the front element which is cock eyed and off center and you can choose between TWIST, SWEET and VELVET. Each setting gives you a totally different yet still very LoFi look. This lens is all about character and fun, not sharpness and detail. It is more about making artsy lo fi images than anything yet at times, and depending on the situation, this can be pretty cool to use. I slapped on my E Mount Trio 28 to my Sony A7RII and made the mistake of going to a local “Color Run”.
The “SWEET” setting gives us an overdone Bokeh with blur on the sides and a sharp center. Notice Debby’s face is in focus but her arms are blurred. This is what you can expect with the SWEET setting.
Another using SWEET
Loving the colors that come from this lens as well. Very punchy. If you click this one, you can see the separation this lens can give you at mid distances. I can see some very creative uses for this lens.
Three girls decided to lay down in a street full of purple powder.
A Color Run is when you walk or run or jog a 5K route and at several points during the route you get doused with colored powder. Somehow, someway, a person out there came up with a way to make a killing by getting people to exercise and get doused with 4 different color powders…ion the face hair and then in your car when you drive home. Amazing. Wish I would have thought of that as there were thousands at this run, each one paying $40 or so to participate (including me). Now, you may have caught where I said :I made the mistake of going”… I did not say that because the event was not fun, it actually was. But I should not have brought my A7RII as at the end of the run it was coated in orange, yellow and purple powder which creeped into every crevice and even the EVF. Now I have to spend a couple of hours cleaning it thoroughly. The good thing is the powder did not get inside where the sensor is, though the Trio 28 and camera were coated at times.
One of the people who were pumping out the color! She was nice when I walked by and told me “watch your camera”!!
Missed focus but you can see the swirl of the bokeh with the TWIST setting.
Near the end we walked through foam machines shooting out bubbles of foam and this little girl was loving it.
Now that I am home and dusted it all off and wiped out down, it is actually 85% good as new. So no harm came to the lens or camera though I would not recommend bringing a nice camera to an event like this if you are participating in it ; ) I knew this up front but figured I would just hold my camera out of the way or dodge the color, but no chance.
So as I walked the route I shot a few frames here and there and the trio 28 lens did interestingly well. While the look it is giving us is FUN, that is what it is designed to do. It’s a special effect lens, not a lens that we should ever expect a normal image from. So do not buy this lens if you want a normal image. If you want swirly bokeh or blurred sides or a smooth filter for portraits this lens is pretty amazing for the cost of under $300. I would have never even thought of this lens if LensBaby did not contact me for a review. Now that I have shot it I am happy to have tested it as now I am keeping it (have no choice really after getting it doused with colors, so have to keep it now). I used to write about fun lenses like this quite often, years ago. One of the first was the SLR Magic Toy Lens. It was cheap and gave a pretty cool loft image, again, it was a fun lens.
This one, the Trio 28 is much nicer though. It’s easy to use, easy to manual focus (it is manual focus only) and even if you miss focus by a hair, you still have a great LoFi image ;) Color performance is VERY full of POP when using my A7RII, and I like it. A lot.
Not something I would use every day, and something I would use the next time with more creativity (finding shots that would excel with the lens) but overall I like this lens. It breaks me out of the seriousness of everything and allows me to have fun and be carefree. At $279 it’s worth owning for anyone who likes these effects right out of the camera. Minimum focus distance is 8″ and the build is nice, much nicer than the old toy lenses of past. LensBaby makes solid lenses, and while not a pro level build, it is perfect for its price point.
Very artistic results can be had in the right hands, and I suggest everyone try this lens as it can really bring some smiles out and create cool, fun memories that can stand out from the normal mundane shots. I loved the twist and sweet settings and rarely used the VELVET setting as it seemed more like a soft filter, which I am not so much a fan of unless I was shooting a close portrait. Below are the same shot with all three settings:
So HIGHLY recommended, fantastic fun little lens.
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