Photography

Lensbaby Velvet 56 lens promises ethereal portraits and macro images

Lensbaby Velvet 56 lens promis...
The Lensbaby Velvet 56 is a manual focus lens which produces dreamlike portrait images when shot wide open
The Lensbaby Velvet 56 is a manual focus lens which produces dreamlike portrait images when shot wide open
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The Lensbaby Velvet 56 is a manual focus lens which produces dreamlike portrait images when shot wide open
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The Lensbaby Velvet 56 is a manual focus lens which produces dreamlike portrait images when shot wide open
The Lensbaby Velvet 56 lens can also be used for macro photography
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The Lensbaby Velvet 56 lens can also be used for macro photography
The Lensbaby Velvet 56 will initially be available from for Canon EF, Nikon F, Sony A and Pentax K mounts and costs US$500
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The Lensbaby Velvet 56 will initially be available from for Canon EF, Nikon F, Sony A and Pentax K mounts and costs US$500
A silver SE version of the Lensbaby Velvet 56 lens will be available for US$600
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A silver SE version of the Lensbaby Velvet 56 lens will be available for US$600
The Lensbaby Velvet 56 lens will be released for DSLRs first, and then mirorrless interchangeable lens cameras later this year
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The Lensbaby Velvet 56 lens will be released for DSLRs first, and then mirorrless interchangeable lens cameras later this year
The sort of dreamlike image possible with the the Lensbaby Velvet 56 lens (Photo: Rachel Shomsky)
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The sort of dreamlike image possible with the the Lensbaby Velvet 56 lens (Photo: Rachel Shomsky)
An example of the macro shooting that's possible with the the Lensbaby Velvet 56 lens (Photo: Pauline Putt)
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An example of the macro shooting that's possible with the the Lensbaby Velvet 56 lens (Photo: Pauline Putt)
View gallery - 7 images

The Velvet 56 is a new lens from Lensbaby which promises to deliver dreamlike, glowing portrait images when shot wide open. The 56-mm F1.6 lens, which will come in a variety of mounts for DSLR and mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras, is said to feature the build and look of classic mid-20th century portrait lenses. With a minimum focusing distance of just 13 cm (5 in) the Velvet 56 can also be used to capture macro images.

Unlike previous Lensbaby offerings like the Composer Pro and Spark, the Velvet 56 is a solid affair with an all metal body. The 440 g (14.4 oz) lens measures 85 x 72 mm (3.3 x 2.8 in), has a 56-mm focal length and a F1.6 maximum aperture with nine diaphragm blades. It will initially be available in Canon EF, Nikon F, Sony A and Pentax K mounts, with Micro Four Thirds, Sony E, Samsung NX and Fuji X to follow.

However, as with other Lensbaby optics, the manual focus Velvet 56 is not going to be one for pixel-peepers, or people who enjoy shooting images of brick walls to test the sharpness of their lenses. That's because the Velvet 56 has been designed to shoot soft and velvety images when used wide open. Sample images show the love-it-or-hate-it glowing, dreamlike effect which is sure to divide photographers.

The sort of dreamlike image possible with the the Lensbaby Velvet 56 lens (Photo: Rachel Shomsky)
The sort of dreamlike image possible with the the Lensbaby Velvet 56 lens (Photo: Rachel Shomsky)

When the aperture is stopped down, which can be done by rotating the clicking aperture ring, the images produced by the lens are sharper and considerably less niche. However, they still display what Lensbaby refers to as a "film-like, organic quality." Macro focusing can be achieved by continuing to rotate the manual focus ring, which will cause the lens to extend in length. The lens boasts 1:2 macro capabilities with a minimal focus distance of just 13 cm (5 in).

The Lensbaby Velvet 56 will be available from next week for Canon EF, Nikon F, Sony A and Pentax K mounts and costs US$500. A Velvet SE silver version will also go on sale for $600. The Micro Four Thirds, Sony E, Samsung NX and Fuji X versions are due to be available in May.

You can check out a Lensbaby Velvet 56 promotional video below.

Product page: Lensbaby Velvet 56

Lensbaby Velvet 56

View gallery - 7 images
3 comments
Keith Reeder
Ah - so "dreamlike" is the trendy word for out of focus?
Some people will buy anything...
Steven James
This Lensbaby Velvet is extrortionately expensive at $500. It simply amplifies optical properties found in many other older and cheaper lenses. It looks nice, but you can get similar results out of lenses 50-60 years older in design.
moreover
I owned a Canon EF 135mm f/2.8 With Softfocus Lens for a while which was a similar concept. But the lens baby has a nine blade iris and higher aperture. Would be a fun lens to rent and play with to see whether the expense is worth it.