Many lenses on the market today are safe, clean, clinically and technically perfect. This is fine, but what happens when you want to create magic in your camera and not in Photoshop? Luckily for those who like to get creative, there are some weird lenses that 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. Other pluses include great build quality, great optics, and for those with autofocus motors, they focus quickly. If you’re tired of clinical lenses and want something in your kit that can add real character to your work, check out the five weird lenses we’ve collected below.
Weird Lenses — Venus Optics Laowa 24mm f/14 Probe Lens (EF Mount)
The award for the weirdest consumer camera lens ever made would definitely go to the Laowa 24mm f/14 probe lens. Don’t discount this lens based on looks, though. I’ve seen some very creative photographers take great shots with this lens.
The Laowa 24mm f/14 is an incredibly unique macro lens. It offers 2:1 magnification, it has a minimum focus distance of 1.5 feet and a working distance of 0.8 inches. This lens allows you to view small objects up close while maintaining a safe working distance. The front element is waterproof, has a built-in LED light and weighs only 1.04 lbs. This is a weird lens, but it’s genius!
Strange Lenses — Lensbaby Obscura 16mm (Multiple Mounts)
The Lensbaby Obscura 16mm is the weirdest lens I’ve ever used. However, it’s also one of the nicest lenses I’ve used. The Lensbaby Obscura 16mm is a pinhole lens. There’s no way to focus it, you just have three very different pinhole experiences to choose from: f/22, f/45 and f/90. All three holes create very different images. In our review we said:
“You will have to completely rethink your approach to photography and that’s what makes it brilliant. You’ll be having fun with your photography in no time. You will create instead of just capture. Put in the time 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)
In case you didn’t know, Lensbaby specializes in making weird lenses. However, they have mastered it and they continue to make optics that will blow your mind. The Lensbaby Trio is a pancake style lens with three different optics (Sweet, Velvet and Twist) installed in a dial. If you like to get creative, this lens might be the right choice for you.
The Twist lens gives users the look of a Petzval lens. You get a sharp center surrounded by twisty, swirling bokeh. The Sweet optic creates images with a sharp center but with a smooth, bokeh-filled fall-off. Finally, the Velvet lens gives photographers the soft, dreamy look that has become popular again. If you want to create images that 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 is perhaps the most normal of the weird lenses we’ve listed here. Yet it is here for good reason. You see, Meyer Optik Gorlitz lenses are known for creating sensational bubble bokeh. This modernized take on a classic lens doesn’t disappoint.
This updated classic features 15 diaphragm blades that help create the famous bubble bokeh, and improved optical design to improve contrast and resolution. The lens uses a revised triplet optical design that allows you to get sharp images across the board. All this comes in a lens that looks as good as the old vintage classic itself.
Weird Lenses — Lensbaby 35mm Burnside f/2.8 (multiple mounts)
Yes, we end up with another Lensbaby lens. The Lensbaby 35mm f/2.8 Burnside is one of my favorite 35mm primes thanks to how unique it is. The Lensbaby 35mm Burnside has two separate apertures and a bokeh control dial that lets you adjust how much swirly bokeh you want in your photos.
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 choose to work on small focus areas or large focus areas. The glass is multi-coated to reduce flare and ghosting, resulting in better colors and contrast. If you want swirly bokeh that you can control yourself, this is the lens for you.