Lensbaby Velvet 56mm f/1.6 lens review (for Nikon)

Lensbaby Velvet 56mm f/1.6 lens for Nikon F-mount ($499.95) review by Marc Rogoff (Twitter | Instagram | Website | Facebook):

I bought this lens last year and I must admit I haven’t used it all that much so far. This is mainly due to the fact that for the kind of work I do as a professional fashion and portraiture photographer it is a little bit cumbersome as it requires manual focusing and doesn’t really fit my fast paced workflow easily. As far as focusing is concerned – it has a very smooth long travel gearing which does allow for very fine focus adjustments but any swaying back and forth whilst shooting wide open leaves little margin for error. The barrel is very smooth and as its a metal lens it feels like a quality bit of kit with a good weight and balance when attached to a body.

The lens has a very nice “Velvety” bokeh and a diffusion in the focussed areas when wide open. This I am told is not out of focus but rather a diffused effect. It is not something one can replicate in photoshop as it is not blur…it is a rather unique aspect to this lens alone.

To really utilise this lens to its best the subject has to be in the centre of the frame as that is the area that remains in focus so if you like to offset things you are photographing then you will have to place the subject in the centre and crop afterwards as I have done on the following images (albeit the subject was not dead centre):

Here is an example of a model full length at around f2.8 to give you an idea of why it’s not so good for Fashion as the central area is clear and the edges of the frame become increasingly diffused:

It is however very ethereal for abstract imagery:

On the whole, it is an interesting and characterful lens that has some interesting potential applications for creative use. I am sure there are people out there that would find this a very pleasing and interesting tool.

I have included a few images that give you some idea of the transition in the diffused areas of the frame shot at F11, F5,6, F2.8 and F1.6 respectively below:

This review was initially published here. If you have an interesting idea for a guest post, you can contact me here. Additional information on the Lensbaby Velvet 56mm f/1.6 lens can be found here.

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