Hands-On Review: The Just Announced Lensbaby Velvet 28mm Lens

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Lensbaby has introduced the third member of its popular Velvet lineup: the Lensbaby Velvet 28mm f/2.5 Lens. Having already reviewed the Lensbaby Velvet 85mm f/1.8 and Lensbaby Velvet 56mm f/1.6, my curiosity was already stoked when the wide-angle version of the lens appeared on my desk.

Lensbaby Velvet 28mm f/2.5
Lensbaby Velvet 28mm f/2.5

Something I really like about Lensbaby’s Velvet-series lenses—fuzzy pics aside—is that they all focus down to half life-size (1:2), which in the case of the new Velvet 28mm, gets you within two inches of your subject. This close-focusing factor, combined with a wide field of view, enables truly bold close-ups.

A wide field of view, combined with the ability to focus down to 2" from your subject, makes for creative picture-taking possibilities.
A wide field of view, combined with the ability to focus down to 2" from your subject, makes for creative picture-taking possibilities.

Like the Velvet 85 and Velvet 56, the new 28mm Velvet captures images that can be highly diffused or fairly sharp, depending on your choice of lens aperture. Wide-open, the Velvet lenses capture image files that are highly diffused, while stopped down, the image files sharpen up, yet always retain a hint of glow in them.

How do you prefer your Porsches? Diffused or sharp? Even stopped down, Lensbaby Velvet-series lenses retain a fuzzy glow.

On the tech side, the Velvet 28 is totally manual focus and, because it’s a wide-angle lens, it has a more complex optical design (8 elements in 7 groups) compared to the Velvet 56 and 85. Other features include 67mm filter threads (same as the Velvet 85), a 12-blade aperture, and all-metal construction that adds more than 1 lb of weight to your camera.

As with all photographs taken with a wide-angle lens, it’s important to keep a dominant form in the foreground when composing your photographs to anchor and guide the viewers eye.
As with all photographs taken with a wide-angle lens, it’s important to keep a dominant form in the foreground when composing your photographs to anchor and guide the viewer’s eye.

Though not officially engraved onto the lens barrel, if you open the lens aperture to the + symbol just past f/2.5, you get an additional 1/3-stop of light. Why they didn’t just call it a 28mm f/2.2 lens, I simply do not know.

Something I strongly suggest if you should purchase this or any of the Lensbaby Velvet lenses is to shoot RAW along with your JPEGs. The JPEGs give you a decent rendering of what the lens can do, but the RAW files enable you to truly tweak the details of the files.

Dreamy land and streetscapes are a piece of cake to capture with the Lensbaby Velvet 28.

Lensbaby’s Velvet 28, which is equally well suited for stills and video, is available for Canon EF and RF, Nikon F and Z, Sony E, FUJIFILM X, and Micro Four Thirds lens mounts.

Have you tried any of the Lensbaby Velvet lenses or other Lensbaby products you enjoy using? If so, tell us about your experiences in the Comments field, below.

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I have a Velvet 28 - but as part of the Lensbaby Trio. So, it's a fixed f/3.5, and clearly not up the optical quality of this new offering. I shoot with a Sony a6500, so this comes in at a very usable 42mm equivalent. I have to say I'm strongly tempted to invest in this when I'm able to - I love the 'velvet' view of the world. If they'd do a Velvet zoom to cover 28-85 in one lens, I'd be all over it!

I also have a Composer, Sweet 50, Edge 50 and the pinhole, plastic and single glass optics, so I'm pretty familiar with Lensbaby stuff. I don't use it as much as I should, but when I do, I always enjoy it, and think I should use it more. 

Nice sample images, too - I particularly like the girl and dog on the bench, and the railing shot that follows it.

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