Lensbaby Velvet 85mm F1.8 E-mount lens review by QuietOC

reviewer#46881 date: Aug-17-2022
sharpness: 4
color: 4
build: 3
distortion: 4
flare control: 3
overall: 3.6
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 12MP12 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP; 61MP61 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:Lensbaby Burnside 35 F2.8
Lensbaby Sol 45 F3.5
Lensbaby Velvet 56 F1.6
Lensbaby Twist 60 F2.5
Sigma 65 F2 DG DN C
Sigma EX 70 F2.8 DG Macro
Samyang 75 F1.8
Samyang AF 85 F1.4 FE
Sony FE 85 F1.8
Tamron SP 85 F1.8 USD
Canon EF 85 F1.8 USM
Minolta MD 85 F2
Minolta Varisoft 85 F2.8
Sony 85 F2.8 SAM
Tamron SP 90 F2.5 Macro
Canon EF 100 F2 USM
Minolta AF 100 F2
Minolta MC 100 F2.5
Minolta AF 100 F2.8 Soft Focus
Minolta AF 100 F2.8 Macro D
Minolta AF 100 F2.8 Macro RS
price paid:216 USD (used)
positive:Spherical aberration
Low distortion
Long focus throw
12 curved aperture blades
Half-size magnification
Clicked aperture
negative:Size and weight
Cheap metal build
Smudgy corners
No electronics
comment:This was another purchase from the Fred Miranda forum. The sale listing was over 2 years old, but the seller responded and the transaction went smoothly. The current list price is $500. Everything about these lenses feels cheap which is at least also reflected in their used values.

I prefer the adjustable spherical aberration of the first-party soft focus lenses like the new Canon RF 100 mm Macro lens, but these simple 4 element Lensbaby Velvet designs are not bad. Both of the Minolta Soft Focus lenses I tried had alignment issues probably at least partly due to the varying mechanism. The Lensbaby's Velvet effect is very strong wide-open.

This lens has quite good resolution in the center even wide-open and even good contrast stopped down to F5.6. The corners however are still somewhat blurry even when stopped all the way down.

The aperture control has only full-stop detents and markings and the spacing is varies.

The half size reproduction surprised me--though the 56 mm Velvet has the same capability. The double extending focus mechanism extends quite a bit more on this lens. At full extension the lens is about the size of a 200 mm F2.8. Like the smaller Velvet the focus grip extends at half the rate of the outer barrel. I prefer controls that don't move in spirals, but it is ok in practice.

Both spherical aberration and apodization filters have background smoothing and depth-of-field deepening properties. Light transmission is much higher with the former. The look of the in focus subjects is also very different. I've also tried a B&W Soft Focus add-on filter, but it doesn't create the same effect.

Overall I am pretty happy with this lens. It may become my favorite Lensbaby lens. It seems the nicest one so far.

rating summary

lens image
  • total reviews: 1
  • sharpness: 4.00
  • color: 4.00
  • build: 3.00
  • distortion: 4.00
  • flare control: 3.00
  • overall: 3.60
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