A lot of lenses that get released these days are safe, clean, clinical and technically perfect. This is fine, but what happens if you want to create magic in your camera and not in Photoshop? Fortunately for those that like to get creative, there are some weird lenses out there that will really make your work stand out.
The weird lenses listed here will help you get in touch with, and challenge your creative side. Most of the weird lenses listed below won’t break the bank either. More plus points include great build quality, great optics, and for those that feature autofocus motors, they focus quickly. If you’re tired of clinical lenses and want something in your kit that can really add character to your work, check out the five weird lenses we’ve rounded up below.
Weird lenses — Venus Optics Laowa 24mm f/14 probe lens (EF mount)
The award for the weirdest consumer camera lens ever made would surely go to the Laowa 24mm f/14 probe lens. Don’t discount this lens based on looks, though. I have seen some very creative photographers make some stunning images with this lens.
The Laowa 24mm f/14 is an incredibly unique macro lens. It provides 2:1 magnification, it has a minimum focusing distance of 1.5 feet and a working distance of 0.8 inches. This lens allows you to get up close and personal with small objects while putting you at a safe working distance. The front element is waterproof, it has a built-in LED light, and it weighs just 1.04lbs. This is one weird lens, but it’s genius!
Strange lenses — Lensbaby Obscura 16mm (multiple mounts)
The Lensbaby Obscura 16mm is the weirdest lens I have ever used. However, it’s also one of the most fun lenses I have used, too. The Lensbaby Obscura 16mm is a pinhole lens. There’s no way to focus it, you simply have three very different pinhole experiences to choose from — f/22, f/45 and f/90. All three pinholes create very different images. In our review, we said:
“You’ll have to completely rethink your approach to photography and this is what makes it brilliant. In no time, you’ll be having fun with your photography. You’ll be creating instead of just capturing. Put the time in with the Lensbaby Obscura 16mm and you’ll be rewarded.”Brett Day – Gear Editor
If you’re interested in buying some weird lenses, honestly, they don’t get much weirder, or more rewarding than the Lensbaby Obscura 16mm. It’s available for just about every camera mount imaginable and it’s incredibly affordable at under $250!
Weird lenses — Lensbaby Trio 28mm f/3.5 (multiple mounts)
If you didn’t know, Lensbaby specializes in making weird lenses. They have it down, though, and they continue to make optics that will wow you. The Lensbaby Trio is a pancake-style lens that has three different optics (Sweet, Velvet, and Twist) installed in a rotating dial. If you like to get creative, this lens might be the right one for you.
The Twist lens gives users the look of a Petzval lens. You’ll get a sharp center that’s surrounded by twisty, twirly bokeh. The Sweet optic will create images with a sharp center but with a gradual bokeh-filled fall-off. Lastly, the Velvet lens will give photographers the soft dreamy look, which has become popular once again. If you want to create images that will really stand out, check out the Lensbaby Trio.
Quirky lenses — Meyer Optik Gorlitz 100mm Trioplan f/2.8 II (multiple mounts)
Okay, the Meyer Optik Gorlitz 100mm Trioplan f/2.8 II might be the most normal of the weird lenses we have listed here. Still, it’s here for good reason. You see, Meyer Optik Gorlitz lenses are famous for creating sensational soap-bubble bokeh. This modernized version of a classic lens does not disappoint.
This re-imagined classic features 15 aperture blades that help create the famous soap-bubble bokeh, and a better optical design to improve contrast and resolution. The lens uses a revised triplet optical design that will help you create sharp images across the board. All of this comes packaged in a lens that looks every bit as good as the old vintage classic itself.
Weird lenses — Lensbaby 35mm Burnside f/2.8 (multiple mounts)
Yes, we end with yet another Lensbaby lens. The Lensbaby 35mm f/2.8 Burnside is one of my favorite 35mm primes thanks to just how unique it is. The Lensbaby 35mm Burnside features two separate diaphragms and a bokeh control dial that allows you to dial in just how much swirly bokeh you want in your images.
Not only can you control how much bokeh your images have, but you can also control the quality of the bokeh and how much vignetting appears in your images. You can opt to work on small focus areas or large focus areas. The glass is multi-coated to reduce flares and ghosting, which leads to better colors and contrast. If you want swirly bokeh that you can control, this is the lens for you.