The lens is based on an 1840 design by Joseph Petzval, the inventor of portrait lenses that’s having a bit of a comeback. The Twist 60 has a 12-blade, f/2.5-22 aperture that creates “twisty, swirly blurs,” and it’s constructed with four elements in three groups. It has a minimum focusing distance of 18 inches. The brighter the aperture, Lensbaby says, the greater the swirl and vignette around the edges.
“Twist 60 embodies our love of old lenses and their unique ways of helping photographers discover creative possibilities,” says Lensbaby co-founder and chief creative officer, Craig Strong. “True to an 1840 design by Joseph Petzval, this lens reveals striking separation between subjects and their background, a quality that modern lens designs lack.”
The Twist 60 is available for Canon EF, Nikon F, or Sony E mounts ($280 each; pre-orders start now, with shipments scheduled for May 5), and Lensbaby recommends using it with full-frame cameras. There’s no electronic contact, so focusing is done manually. While this isn’t an everyday lens, art lenses like this are popular. Lomography’s Daguerreotype Achromat, for example, has surpassed its pledge goal of $100,000 by five times, and it still has 28 days to go (as of this writing).
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For owners of Lensbaby’s Optic Swap System, the company will also sell a version of the Twist 60 ($180) that works with the Composer Pro mounts. Although these mounts let you tilt in various directions, Lensbaby recommends shooting straight ahead with the Twist 60.