About a month ago, I received the Lensbaby Velvet 56. Now, I am not someone who is into “Form over Function”, but the presentation that Lensababy makes with this lens is …. impressive.
Most lens manufacturers give you their lens in a white, boring shipping container.
The Velvet 56 box is tastefully covered with artsy, slightly muted images.
You know, those soft yet sharp images that are so cool and yet so difficult to get right?
You get the feeling from the start that this is not like other lenses.
This is an Art lens;… made for artists,.. to make Art.
Okay, …I admit it, now I’m a little intimidated.
Inside was this very dark black, shiny lens. When I picked it up, I was impressed again. It reminded me a bit of a lens from my old film days. This is Not a plastic, mass produced lens, or some polymer coated aluminum, flimsy thing. This lens is very solid and made of metal. This is a cool looking lens. But looks are not important with a lens, right?
… it is cool though.
I attached the Velvet56 to my Super Color converted Canon 7DMKII and it is a very solid connection, not hard to attach, but firm. Everything about this lens is like that; solid, firm, deliberate.
As I said this is an Art lens, and it is also a manual lens. Manual focus and manual f-stop. There is a simple step before using a manual focus lens. Take your camera with an autofocus lens attached and focus it on a non-moving object. Then adjust your cameras diopter so that the image looks sharp.
Now you are ready.
First, a few technical things. This lens has a f-stop range of f16 – f1.6. At f16, and f11, the lens is sharp and there is some softness, but the magic section for me was f8 – f2.8. This area gave me my favorite results. The softness at f2 & f1.6 are very intense.
I wanted to try the lens out right away, so I used my closest model, my dog Precious. There wasn’t much light in the room; just sunlight, so I grabbed a tripod. I set the ISO at 200, the shutter speed at 1/3 sec, and set the f-stop to 4. The sunlight was hitting her right in the face.
This was the result.
All I did to this image was desaturate the color tones.
I was amazed; the eye is so sharp, yet the image is so soft. I did set my focus on her eye, and I cannot believe the puppy held still.
It was at this point that I was no longer intimidated,…. now I’m excited .
But, that was just one image, I need to try other scenarios.
I walked outside, did a manual white balance and shot a rose.
This is at ISO200, 1/60sec, and at f8.0. There was slight red color tone to the petals that I desaturated, that’s it. Look at the texture in the petals.
This lens is tack sharp, and you know with Infrared that can be challenging.
Along that same thought, the Velvet 56 also has a macro setting. Turn the focus ring clockwise and you can now get very close, and very sharp.
This is ISO100, 1/125sec, f 5.6
All I did was desaturate this image.
Next I wanted to check it out for something along the lines of a landscape image. I know this is 56mm lens, but I wanted to see what it would do.
This is at ISO100, 1/125sec, f16
Super Color, channel swapped and one with the Red and Yellow color tones removed. There’s sharpness and some great depth.
Here’s f11 First the Raw image
Now channel swapped
and finally with a few adjustments and a texture layer.
Now I am hooked.
Lastly, I wanted to try this as a portrait lens.
I contacted a model by the name of Rylie Frohack, and convinced her to be my guinea pig.
I think I called it something classier, ….. like a test subject.
I shot at every f-stop to see what results I could get, but this is where I realized that f8 – f2.8 was My favorite range.
Here’s a few examples.
The RAW file
The eyes are sharp, the image is soft.
Here’s a few adjustments.
That was f4.0
This is 5.6
Remember I said I liked f2.8? This is why.
This was made outside, not in a studio. At f2.8 the depth of field is so narrow that the background just disappeared into softness. Here eyes and the edge of her hair are sharp, the rest just gets softer. All I had to do was desaturate the color tones and adjust the levels a bit.
You are not going to be surprised for me to say I love the images I got from the Lensbaby Velvet 56. It is a quality lens that produces great results in Infrared.
I’d like to thank Rylie Frohock for being my gui….Test Subject for this shoot, AND Lensbaby for allowing me to test their lens.
If you want more information on the Lensbaby Velvet 56, click here
If you would like to view the rest of my test images, click here