Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Lensbaby Velvet 56 or 85?


                                        Choices, choices...



I've been getting lots of questions about the new Lensbaby Velvet 85, and many of them have to do with the difference between the Velvet 56 and the new model. Some people want to know which to choose, while others who already own the Velvet 56 want to know if there is enough of a difference to add the 85 to their lens collections.

Though you can get in close with both models, and that wonderful Velvet etherial look is produced with both lenses, the main difference I see in my work is to the backgrounds. The longer focal length of the Velvet 85 provides compression. That means it reduces the distance between subjects and backgrounds, pulling the background closer, at the same time providing more blur to it too.  I am really loving this effect when I include a background, and more and more I am reaching for the Velvet 85 when I used to use my 180mm lens.

Here are some sample images, same subject with both lenses:

                                                                    Velvet 56, f/4


                                                                    Velvet 85, f/4

                                                                   Velvet 56, f/4

                                                                    Velvet 85, f/4

As you can see, the Velvet 85 provides more background simplification and blur.  It was also nice not having to get in as close with that longer lens, the bees were loving these Poppies! That extra space also comes in handy when I want more space to use a diffuser or reflector.

                                                                      Velvet 56, f/4

                                                                      Velvet 85, f/4

I tried some indoor shots as well, using a huge Dahlia from my garden and a printed background texture.  I could not capture the whole flower with the Velvet 56 without also including the edges of my 11" x 17" background. The compression provided by the Velvet 85 helped to bring that background forward and I was easily able to fill the frame without issue.

                                                                       Velvet 56, f/5.6

                                                                    Velvet 85, f/5.6

So, which do I recommend?  I see the choice in a similar way to choosing the Lensbaby Sweet 35 or Sweet 50. Lens choice will depend on your subject, what you want to include in the frame, how close you can get to that subject and what you have to work with in the background. As with the Sweet 35 and 50, both the Velvet 56 and 85 have a place in my camera bag.

Happy Shooting!
Kathleen



30 comments:

  1. Thank you Kathleen. The new lens looks fantastic! :)

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  2. Both are wonderful thank you for sharing...going for the 85

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  3. I may go for the 85 just because of the compression issue (which I love). After seeing one of your videos at creativelive I got the Canon 180 macro and love the compression and distance possibilities over the 100 macro (where useful). Thanks for the details and awesome images here!

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  4. Thanks Kathleen. I don't have either, but would love to have the velvet. 85 sounds good to me. :)

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  5. That Velvet 85 looks wonderful. I just recently bought the 180mm macro and the Velvet 56. Still trying to learn the Velvet 56. No money for the Velvet 85 at the moment, but maybe later.

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  6. Thank you for sharing! I think I am in the same situation as Pearl above, no money at this time - but at least now I know why I might want to get the Velvet 85 at some point in the future. For now, I'll have to work with the Velvet 56. Thanks again!!!

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  7. Thank you for doing a side by side comparison. I was debating if the 85 was worth adding to my bag. No money in the budget for it right now but someday. :-)

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  8. I already have the 56 so I cannot get an 85 which looks a bit better. oh well

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  9. Very cool makes it very easy to see the difference when you do it that way.

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  10. Thank you Kathleen for the explanation, the pictures are beautiful. I have the Velevt 56 but think about buying the velvet 85.

    Greetings Janny

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  11. Will the Velvet 85 work with Nikon D40X cameras?

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    1. Yes, if you buy the version with Nikon lens mount. Keep in mind that your D40X is an APS-C crop sensor camera that will give the Velvet 56 an effective focal length of 1.5 x 56mm, or 84mm. The Velvet 85 on your camera will produce an effective focal length of 127.5mm.

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  12. You can check compatibility charts at lensbaby.com

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  13. Have you done any portrait work with it? How would it compare to a Batis 1.8? I have the 56 and it falls in and out of use. For me the Velvet has a rough learning curve and a very yes/no feel. It either works magically or it produces unusable images.

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  14. I’m hoping to ask for a velvet lens this holiday season and am unsure which to purchase. This comparison is the best I’ve seen. Any fuji X users out there? Would like to use it for flowers and ultimately street but worry about the learning curve as I’m not too techy

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  15. Hi, it seams that the main subject in the images is a bit sharper with the 56 as opposed to the 85. Is this typical or can that be changed with a different aperture setting? I like the idea of the reach and compression of the 85, but I tend to like my main subject sharp. I am considering adding a velvet to my arsenal of lenses. Thanks

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  16. Thanks. That pretty much clinches the decision for me.

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  17. Thank you for the helpful information. The Velvet 56 is one of my favorite lenses, but now I can clearly see the value and advantages of the Velvet 85, too. I will be ordering one soon.

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  18. In using both lens were you using a full frame or crop sensor? I have been told they work (especially the 85) best with a full frame sensor.

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  19. Great info. I'm thinking to have one in near future beside my beloved Canon 180mmL usm macro f3.5
    I can see the value and advantages of the Velvet 85
    Thanks Kathleen

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  20. Great info. I'm thinking to have one in near future beside my beloved Canon 180mmL usm macro f3.5
    I can see the value and advantages of the Velvet 85
    Thanks Kathleen

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  21. Hi Kathleen. I read a review where it was said that this was not a good lens for outdoor shooting. Rather, studio, indoors or out of natural light. Do you agree? I'm getting ready to purchase it but will be using it mostly outdoors (traveling to Barcelona and Sicily next month). I also have the Composer Pro II/Sweet 50 which I am strictly a learning novice. :-)

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    Replies

    1. I totally disagree, almost all of my shooting with the Velvets is done outside with natural light. :) That review really got it wrong, Gina.

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  23. I am new to Lensbaby and am trying to decide which lense to invest in. Your information is invaluable! Many thanks!

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