Adventures with the Lensbaby Velvet 56
Most lens manufacturers work hard to make sharper and sharper lenses. There is one company that has chosen to go in the exact opposite direction. Lensbaby started making strange lenses years ago that actually would make the majority of the image out-of-focus with only a pinpoint of sharpness. They gained a following especially among wedding and portrait photographers. Many other photographers who were looking for something different also added one in their kit.
I had the original Lensbaby which looked like an accordion with a lens attached. To focus you would squeeze the accordion part and angle the lens to move the point of focus around. It was a challenging lens to use and I was rarely happy with the results. This little lens ended up being relegated to the bottom of my camera bag and eventually ended up in a drawer somewhere.
Lensbaby is an innovative company and continually improves their lenses. I followed this growth, but wasn’t tempted to buy another one until their latest innovation, The Lensbaby Velvet 56. This lens seeks to recapture the days when photographers would buy cheap, off-brand lenses to create surreal effects on film.
Today, with precision computer controlled manufacturing, even the off-brand lenses are pretty sharp. The folks at Lensbaby decided there was a need to be filled and filled it with the Lensbaby Velvet 56. The lens has an uncanny ability to make things look soft and velvety (hence the name Velvet), but still have a large degree of sharpness.
When I saw the first photographs being created by this lens, I was mesmerized and bought one right away. What a refreshing and fun lens to use. I found myself photographing things like flowers which is something I tend to shy away from.