Lensbaby might be best known for their tilt-shift lenses, but they've got an interesting product in the Velvet 56.
While this 56mm f/1.6 lens has been out for a while, they've got a new limited edition version run of 400 that has copper accents instead of the previously-available black and white models (it also ships in an unnecessary wooden box). All of these lenses have the same optical qualities, just different housings. Either way, since we've never written about the Velvet 56 before, it's as good a time as any to show what this unique lens is capable of:
- Nikon F or Canon EF Mount Lens/Full-Frame Format
- Also available for Pentax K & Sony A mounts in the Black version
- Aperture Range: f/1.6 to f/16
- Singlet-Doublet-Singlet Optical Design
- Soft Glowing Effect at Wide Apertures
- Inspired by Classic Portrait Lenses
- 1:2 Magnification, 5" Working Distance
- Manual Focus and Exposure Control
- All-Metal Lens Barrel
- Filter Thread: 62mm
- Price: Black — $500, White — $550, Limited Edition — $600
It might seem like just another vintage lens that's soft and creamy wide open, but the lens gets much, much sharper when stopped down, as it's designed to do so. Any lens will get sharper stopped down, but older vintage lenses can only get so sharp, so it's nice that this effect can be limited if you want a less dreamy-looking image. The lens also acts as a macro, which is a handy edition to what is more of a specialty lens. Another nice benefit to the Velvet 56 is that it's completely mechanical (iris and focus) even in the EF version, so you can attach it to any dumb Canon mounts that don't have electronic lens controls.
You can get somewhat similar looks with filtration in front of the lens, but I can definitely see the value in having all of this in one lens, especially if you were planning on walking around with a very small and light kit. The Limited Edition version is $100 more than the standard $500 Black version, so if you don't need this lens as a fashion statement, you'll save some money.