An 85mm version of itslens, the Lensbaby Velvet 85 delivers the same idiosyncratic, dreamy defocus effect, this time in an f1.8 telephoto. And it’s quickly become one of my new favorites for street photography.
The Velvet 85 will start shipping in mid-July on lensbaby.com for for $500 in a host of dSLR and mirrorless mounts, for both full-frame and crop sensors, including Sony E and Micro Four Thirds. I don’t have non-US pricing or availability yet, but directly converted, it’s £393 and AU$660.
Like the Velvet 56, it’s constructed of metal with a clicky aperture ring on the body side. Apertures run from f1.8 to f16 in whole stops (except for the first step, f1.8 to f2, which is one-third of a stop). There’s also a knurled, strongly damped focusing ring. The distance range runs from 9.5 inch/24cm from the front element in macro mode up to 21 feet/7m before making the jump to infinity; a full rotation of the lens before you hit macro takes it down to 12 inches/0.3 m.
It’s a long way from infinity to a foot, not to mention macro — 1.5 turns of the focus ring. On one hand, the long rotation makes it easy (and necessary) to get very granular focus adjustments at small distances. However, it also means that you can occasionally miss a shot when going from near to far or vice versa.