Over the past decade Lensbaby has become known for some pretty unique lenses. Offering photographers unique and interesting ways to expand their creative vision without straining their wallets. The Lensbaby Velvet 56 looks to continue this tradition by offering a truly unique 56-mm soft focus portrait lens with a couple tricks up its sleeve.
What you’re going to immediately notice about the Velvet 56 compared to most of Lensbaby’s predecessors is the build quality of this lens. They have forgone the usual plastic feel of their lenses and are instead building the lens out of metal, including its screw-on lens hood. This gives the Velvet 56 a very welcome strong, classic feel, truly showing that it draws its inspiration from the classic portrait lenses of the mid-20th century. The focus and aperture rings also benefitted from this greatly, featuring a nice smooth movement with a natural resistance that never felt like it was fighting against you. The aperture ring had a soft click to it, which was not bad but felt less solid than the movement of the focus ring.
The actual image quality of this lens is where the Velvet 56 stands apart, combining an interesting soft focus quality with a surprisingly sharp lens. One thing to note though is the 56 mm focal length of the lens takes quite a bit of getting used to. If you commonly shoot with a 50 mm, you may find yourself framing too tight for the first while. This length however does translate well on a crop-frame sensor, bringing it close to the fan-favourite of 85 mm for portraits. When stopped down to around f/8 the lens holds a strong sharpness, showing off the amazing optical quality of the lens, but it’s at f/1.6 that this lens really shines, featuring its velvety bokeh, and almost ethereal soft focus that give the lens its name.
A bonus feature of this lens is that, while acting as an apt standard prime lens, the Velvet 56 also gives its user some very powerful macro capabilities. Offering an image scale of 1:2, and a minimum focus distance of 0.13 m that, combined with the wide aperture and soft focus, offers some of the most unique macro shots.
The Lensbaby Velvet 56 has to be one of the most unique lenses on the market at the moment, offering a wide variety of uses. This lens helps bring out a fun artistic feel to everything from landscapes and portraits, to any close-up photography you may have in mind. The Velvet 56 is a must have for anyone looking to bring a new perspective to their photos. For more information on the Lensbaby Velvet 56, check out lensbaby.com or thecamerastore.com.