Since 2004, Lensbaby has been an trade innovator, designing outside-the-box artistic lenses and equipment. Whereas different producers chase the costly, high-tech, spec-fixated market, Lensbaby pursues one thing solely completely different: serving to artists discover a new artistic method by means of distinctive results delivered by absolutely analog merchandise.

In the present day, persevering with in that custom, Lensbaby introduced the most recent and widest lens in its Velvet assortment, the Velvet 28.

Like its well-loved predecessors, the Velvet 56 (2015) and the Velvet 85 (2017), the Velvet 28 presents an vintage lens really feel whereas sustaining a strong construct and a singular impressionistic photographic type. Photographers will benefit from the glowing impact that the Velvet collection is understood for on the widest apertures, whereas nonetheless having the ability to cease down for improved sharpness and readability. Followers of the Velvet collection will probably be excited to know that this lens is simply as substantive because the 56 and 85 lenses it follows.

First Impressions

General Specs for the Velvet 28

• Focal Size: 28mm
• Aperture Vary: f/2.5 – 22 with bonus 1⁄three cease of sunshine (indicated by + on aperture dial) past f/2.5
• 12 aperture blades
• Minimal Focus Distance: 2 inches
• Most Focus Distance: Infinity
• 67mm filter threads
• Focus sort: Handbook
• DSLR model Dimension/ Weight: 1.04 lb (471.74g)
• MIL model Dimension/Weight: 1.31 lb (594.2g)
• Eight multi-coated glass components, in 7 teams

Bodily Look and Really feel

Proper out of the field, the Velvet 28 seems like a really stable lens. Harking back to the vintage, manual-focus, manual-aperture lenses I inherited from my Grandfather, this lens feels substantial. It weighs in at simply over a pound — sufficient to really feel resilient with out making a irritating quantity of additional weight. Visually, the lens is an instantaneous traditional. Between the font and shade selections for the main target and aperture markings, it’s positively within the vein of lenses designed and bought within the 1950s and 1960s. Similar to the Velvet 56 and the Velvet 85, this can be a sophisticated-looking lens.

Transferring Components

The apertures click on properly into place as you cease up and down, and the main target ring has an especially clean glide with simply sufficient resistance that you simply don’t have to fret about it slipping and dropping focus. The lens is marked with a hyperfocal scale for apertures of f/Eight and f/22 (particularly calibrated for a full-frame 20 MP digital camera). The main focus ring makes use of your entire circumference of the lens and whenever you regulate for a detailed focus, the lens will elongate a bit. To regulate from one focus excessive to the opposite, you could really feel such as you’re rotating for some time. That stated, each the main target ring and the aperture ring have molded ridges for a cushty and pure grip, so rotating is not a trouble. 


Whereas many lens caps in the marketplace are likely to really feel low cost due to unreliable tension-based parts, the Velvet 28’s single-piece, metallic lens cap slides on properly for a safe, comfortable match. It provides a stage of well-made polish to the design. The entrance lip of the lens itself has a smooth, curved edge that completely enhances the cap. You will need to notice that although the Velvet 28 can take a 67mm filter, the native lens cap can’t be used when a filter is connected. The rear cap suits snugly as properly, offering an added stage of safety when the lens shouldn’t be in use.

Taking pictures with the Velvet 28

Adjusting Settings

For those who’ve by no means used a lens from the Velvet collection earlier than, there’s a little bit of a studying curve to think about. The broader the aperture used, the extra softness and glow within the picture. The widest aperture marked on the lens is an f/2.5, although the aperture ring may be rotated a bit farther to the “+” marking for an additional ⅓ of a cease of sunshine. When taking pictures at f/2.5+ the Velvet impact could be very robust, which can not work in most conventional purposes. Whereas the total cease apertures do click on into place, it’s nonetheless potential to shoot in between stops.  I discovered the candy spot with a very good visible steadiness of velvet and element to be between the marked apertures of f/2.Eight and f/4. On the wider apertures of f/11, f/16, and f/22 the velvet impact reduces drastically and finally disappears, permitting for extra conventional taking pictures with out altering lenses.

Functions and Versatility

By way of practicality, the Velvet 28 is sort of a bit extra helpful than you would possibly count on for a stylized artistic lens. As a result of photographers can select the depth of the velvet impact, this lens can be utilized for quite a lot of topics reminiscent of journey, product images, abstracts, macro, avenue, and panorama images. With such a large focal size, the Velvet 28 gained’t be probably the most flattering close-up portrait lens, however with a little bit of distance from the topic or simply the suitable angle, it could possibly be used to create dreamy portraits as properly. The Velvet 28 can be able to taking pictures macro at 1:2 with its extraordinarily shut focusing distance of two inches — about half the space of the Velvet 56 and 85. Macro photographers will be capable to fill the body extra successfully with their topic whereas sustaining a pleasant background blur and glow.

Studying Curve

Earlier than testing the lens in earnest, I spent a while getting a really feel for the velvet impact and dealing on the main target. I hardly ever use a guide focus lens, so I needed to mess with my diopter a bit till I felt like I used to be getting dependable outcomes. The best technique to calibrate the diopter and get correct focus is to activate reside view, dial the main target in at f/4 (the place issues develop into loads sharper), then return to the viewfinder to replace the diopter to match. As soon as your focus is dialed in, you possibly can open the aperture once more for the Velvet look.

After taking part in with some macro topics at residence, I took the lens on a stroll round my block, focusing totally on what was close-by and accessible: flowers and avenue scenes. Even after calibrating, I want the main target was a bit extra foolproof. A number of instances I anticipated higher outcomes than I acquired and needed to strive once more for a similar shot. After taking pictures with it for a few hours, I really feel like I’ve some room to develop when it comes to having the ability to shortly get the shot I take note of with this lens, although I do suppose it’s definitely worth the effort to enhance. I might love so as to add this distinctive look to my workflow and I may see myself utilizing the Velvet 28 within the conditions the place beforehand I might use my vintage lenses.

Pictures From My Take a look at Run

I took a number of collection of pictures, recomposing the identical shot at varied apertures to get a greater sense of how a lot aperture dictates the glow impact and when the falloff happens. After taking pictures with the lens for some time, it turned clear that f/2.5+ by means of f/2.Eight have probably the most softness and dreamy high quality. Between f/2.Eight and f/Four you get one of the best of each worlds — dreaminess within the background and readability within the foreground, and from f/5.6 to f/22 you get a constant improve of element and depth of subject from cease to cease.

To Sum It Up

What I Appreciated

  • This lens is totally completely different from the high-tech gear I recurrently use. Its simplicity opens up new avenues of creativity.
  • It’s low tech but nonetheless feels stable.
  • After years considering of Lensbaby as a set of plastic, single-function lenses, it is good to be taught that they’ve some severe chops and flexibility.
  • The 12 blade aperture makes a fantastic starburst at f/11 and above.

What I Did not Take pleasure in

  • I did develop into pissed off a number of instances with having to take repeat pictures whereas attempting to get the main target the place I believed it must be. It’s been some time since I had a bit of drugs with a studying curve like this.
  • As with every guide aperture lens, the digital camera isn’t recording the aperture data to your EXIF information. For reviewing functions I needed to be very systematic in how I photographed the check pictures. Professionally I wish to have a photograph’s full data in entrance of me, so I could have to take notes whereas taking pictures with this lens for future reference.
  • At f/2.5+ to f/2.8, bokeh is giant and plentiful. I shot in harsh mild and had some large factors of sunshine proper in the midst of the body. This may be seen as a bonus relying on what you’re going for, however it’s one thing to concentrate to as you shoot.

Testing this lens was an ideal first expertise with the Lensbaby’s Velvet collection. Having skilled first-hand the stable construct, incredible glass, and distinctive glow impact, I can see why the Velvet 56 and Velvet 85 are each such standard lenses. The Velvet 28 is a good addition to the line-up and presents photographers a brand new wider angle artistic choice for his or her workflow. For those who’re a fan of summary or macro images and are in search of a technique to be artistically impressed over the following few weeks at residence, think about choosing up the Velvet 28. I am unable to wait to see what you give you!

The Velvet 28 is available in commonplace lens mounts, together with Canon EF, Nikon F, Canon RF, Nikon Z, Sony E, Fujifilm X and Micro 4 Thirds. It is going to be accessible for pre-order on April 21, 2020 for $549.95.


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