A couple of weeks ago, Lensbaby introduced their latest art lens, The Velvet28. Having tested and loved the other two Velvet Lenses, the Velvet56 and Velvet85, I was excited to hear of this lens. For those of you that aren’t familiar with Lensbaby, they produce high-quality lenses that fit into the category of Art Lenses. Everything about Lensbaby is angled at helping an artist to develop their own style, to step out of the box, away from the norm. The Velvet series allows you to capture images that can be tact sharp, or have a whimsical glow, or a combination of both. Having shot with the Velvet lenses for a few years now I have come to appreciate how perfectly they blend with the art of Infrared photography. One year I shot the entire Missouri Botanical Gardens Orchid Show with just a Velvet Lens. When I head out for a shoot there is generally a Velvet lens in my bag. A year or so ago, Lensbaby put out a questionnaire on what would photographers like to see in a lens. My answer was a wide-angle Velvet Lens. And they did it. After shooting with it I think it may be the most versatile art lens currently available.
The day the Velvet 28 was announced I received a couple of emails from Infrared photographers wanting to know if I knew how it was with IR. In other words, are there “hotspots” I hadn’t heard about the lens at that point, so I contacted Lensbaby to ask how it performed with IR. Their answer was “You tell us” and they sent me the lens.
The Velvet 28 is a 28mm, f/2.5 – f/22 Manual Focus Lens with 8 multi-coated glass elements in 7 groups. It also has a 1:2 Macro capability, with a minimum working distance of 1.8 inches. There is an interesting thing to note about this lens; it is marked as a f/2.5, but it actually goes to f/2.2. To the right of the 2.5 mark is a “+” That “+” is f/2.2, which gives the maximum Glow.
The body of the lens is metal, not plastic. And, Lensbaby is on the ball with all the major mounts. I’m shooting a Canon EOS-R which has the new RF mount, and they make this lens in Canon RF, and EF. They also carry Nikon Z & F, Sony E, Micro 4/3, and Pentax K mounts. Another key point to consider is that The Lensbaby Velvet28 is very affordable. When you compare it to other so-called art lenses you will be surprised.
Now before I get too much further into this piece, I don’t want to bury the lead. The Velvet 28 is good for Infrared on all filters. The second thing I did when I got the lens was put it on a tripod and take a test image with Hyper Color at 470nm, Super Color at 590nm, Standard IR at720nm, and Deep B&W at 830nm. I shot at f/16 and there were no Hot Spots. This Lens is good for Infrared.
I was excited when the V28 arrived until I remembered that I’m living in a world of Covid 19 quarantines and Murder Hornets. Suddenly the idea of multiple location shoots and working with several models gave way to the realization of “No, you can’t do that”. So, if time permits and I have access to this lens in the future I will do another blog piece on the Velvet 28 as a portrait lens.
I have a tradition whenever I get a new lens that is I shoot a picture of my dog. For my first test image, I moved my model, err puppy dog outside on my deck. There was plenty of good useable light, so I shot it at f/4.
This is a Super Color image, but the interesting thing is when you channel swap it the image looks more like a color image. The main difference is the eyes. Her eyes always get so very shiny when I shoot her in Infrared.
Next, I tried some images of flowers. This is where the Macro feature is great.
First a sharp image on a peony with a couple of visitors,
then, a Tea rosebud and bloom with a medium Glow.
The Macro setting works great.
Then, just in time, some restrictions were modified and I decided to venture out. Please note, I did take all proper precautions as suggested by the CDC and did not come into contact with another person while I was out. Still, I did wear a face shield I have that does seem to make social distancing a lot easier.
You see this face coming and staying 6 feet away suddenly seems like a good idea.
For my first landscape, I tried something simple, in Standard Infrared at 720nm.
With a simple channel swap, it’s good to go, nice and crisp at f/16
To show you an example of how versatile this lens is, right after I shot this I saw a very small set of flowers so I shot them in the macro setting, this time at f/2.5 for the narrowest depth of field and maximum glow.
This was in Super Color, processed with an Aerochrome look.
I had one more location, a flooded area that I thought would look good in IR.
First in Deep B&W at f/16
Next in Super Color at f/16, balanced and channel swapped.
This next image is where you can see the real potential of the Velvet 28
Want that soft, dreamy Glow? Here it is right out of the camera. I did channel swap of course. So, I have now shot enough with this Lens to tell you I would suggest it to anyone looking for a versatile art lens. If we ever recover from the apocalypse hopefully I will show more images including some with people in them.
If you want to see more about the Velvet 28? Click Here