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Lensbaby Velvet 28

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lensbaby velvet 28 canon ef sony e flickr fuji x 28mm f/2 5 review 8 nikon f f2 images sample mft mm z rf test vs 56 85

If McDreamy were a lens, it would be the Lensbaby Velvet 28. The Velvet series is designed to capture light from a company known for lenses that avoid optical perfection in favor of creative effects.

While most lens manufacturers aim to design the sharpest, distortion-free lenses, Portland, OR-based Lensbaby is an artistic lens company that embraces the odd, whatever is common and surprising. Its simple, electronics-free lenses produce a variety of effects in-camera, from blur to controllable vignettes.

Like the Velvet 56 and 85 before it, the Lensbaby Velvet 28 produces a soft light strongest at wide apertures and dissipates when the aperture is narrow. The wider focal length provides the effect, common for flower and close-ups, for landscapes and environmental portraits. Close-ups are also still an option, as the Velvet 28 maintains the 1:2 macro capabilities of other Velvet lenses.

Velvet 28 is a manual focus lens available in DSLR and mirrorless mounts, including Canon EF, Nikon F, Canon RF, Nikon Z, Sony E, Fujifilm X, and Micro Four Thirds.

All-metal design

While the Lensbaby Velvet 28 looks slightly different from the premium lenses in my kit, it still feels ready for professional use. While it lacks autofocus and autoexposure, the all-metal body is solid and well-built.

It’s a huge lens, but its short stature and lack of autofocus motor help make up for that. It didn’t feel too heavy on the front of my Nikon D850, which is a fairly large DSLR. This lens version weighs a little over a pound, while the mirrorless version weighs about 1.3 pounds.

The focus ring takes up most of the lens. The ring rotates smoothly as a manual focus lens and has more movement than a regular, minute-adjustable autofocus lens. There’s also a traditional aperture ring, as the lack of an electronic phonebook means you can’t control the aperture from the camera.

The lens also includes a nice metal lens cap and houses 67mm filters.

Note: We tested a pre-production model of this lens. There will be minor changes from the lens pictured on the outside, including the f/22 aperture setting labeling.

An enjoyable experience

Manual focus can be good and bad. Good, because manual focus forces you to slow down. When you slow down to get just the right amount of focus, you may also be inclined to put more thought into composition.

But, there’s no denying the convenience of autofocus. While peak focus on mirrorless cameras and in live view mode on DSLRs simplifies the work, getting a sharp photo takes more time and effort. Getting sharp images on a manual focus-only and slightly soft-designed lens is difficult. The best way to get a sharp photo is to focus with an aperture of at least f/4 and open it up if needed before taking the shot. That is not ideal and makes manual focus take longer.

Although working with manual focus is tedious, the Velvet 28 has a wide focus range. The lens is capable of 1:2 macro shooting, so you can focus on objects as close as two inches to the lens, making it more versatile than the regular 28mm.

There aren’t any electronic connections to the camera; not only will the exposure be automatically off the table, but you won’t save lens metadata to your files.

Manual focus can be a drag, but there’s nothing quite like the creative thrill of using a lens like this. Working with Velvet 28 was simply a blast. The soft-focus effect is yet another tool for in-camera creativity beyond aperture and shutter speed.

Dreamy picture quality

Maximum aperture starts at f/2.5, the “+” symbol on the lens allows users to go beyond that for an extra 1/3 stop of light and even more of that glow effect. At the widest aperture, the whole image is soft and luminous, while at the narrowest, the Velvet 28 looks almost like a normal lens.

At the widest setting, the entire image looks like it’s covered in fog. Color flows through the edges, and objects appear to glow, especially white or overexposed image areas. Contrast starts to drop again at f/2.8, although the center is still soft. At f/4, some sharpness starts to build in the center of the photo, while the edges maintain that ethereal glow. The sweet spot is around f/5.6, which produces moderate sharpness without completely removing the glow effect. The center of the image is still not quite as sharp as a regular lens, but, admittedly, this can also be a user error with manual focus.

By f/16 or f/22, that smooth light is less obvious across the entire image.

The white areas of the image tend to take in most of that light when shooting wide open. In this setting, the color of white objects flows over the edges, creating a halo effect. That can be enhanced if the image is intentionally overexposed. That creates another way to use Velvet creatively, by adding lights to create a halo.

Despite the wide-angle, I still found myself filling the frame with my subjects to make those dreamy edges much more apparent. On the other hand, light directed towards the edges tends to blend in with the background opacity. The lens can still be used for landscapes, creating an intentional cloud over the entire image or giving a soft blur to the edges.

Lensbaby Velvet 28 brings dreamy light to wide-angle shots. When done properly, it’s a look that can be amazing, but without time and forethought, it just looks like an out-of-focus image. Fine art photographers will love it; peeping pixels.

The smooth metal construction, focus ring, and aperture ring give it a premium feel, while macro focusing expands creative possibilities.

The lack of autofocus and autoexposure, mixed with deliberate softness, means that shooting with this lens requires patience and trial and error.

where can you get a Lensbaby Velvet 28 online

Lensbaby Velvet 28 for Nikon F: Buy it now

Lensbaby Velvet 28 for Canon EF: Buy it now

Lensbaby Velvet 28 Fuji X (LBV28F): Buy it now

Lensbaby Velvet 28 for Sony E: Buy it now


lensbaby velvet 28 canon ef sony e flickr fuji x 28mm f/2 5 review 8 nikon f f2 images sample mft mm z rf test vs 56 85


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