The UPS man knocked on the door and left a package, a long awaited package with two Lensbaby Velvet 56 mm lenses for our Fuji X-mount cameras. Mine will be used on a Fuji XE-2 and Roxanne’s will be used on a Fuji XT-1. The lenses are long, which would typically mean that it would be unbalanced on a small camera body like the XE-2 and XT-1. However, due to the light weight of the lens, and the fact that the last inch and a half is the lens hood, they are perfectly balanced for these cameras. The following image shows the Velvet 56 minus lens hood mounted on a Fuji XE-2.
Velvet 56 mounted on a Fuji XE-2
The focal length and maximum aperture of the lens makes it an ideal lens for portrait photography. It also has a minimum focus distance of 5 inches, which is ideal for macro photography. But as we quickly found out, the lens is multi-faceted and can be used for just about any type of photography.
Like all Lensbaby products, the lens is manual focus, which is a breeze with the Fuji Peaking focus assist feature. Just make sure your viewfinder diopter is adjusted for your vision, which will enable you to easily achieve focus. At maximum aperture, the images you create will have a soft glow. Stop down to f/4.0 and the glow disappears and you start getting sharper details. At even smaller apertures, the lens functions just like any other prime lens, giving you a sharp image.
The first place we used our Velvet 56s was at North Jetty in Nokomis. My first photographs were of the gigantic Australian Pines. The sun was too bright to shoot wide open, but I did manage to create several shots at f/2.8. The subject matter was readily identifiable, but there was a warm glow around the pines, and spectral highlights took on a wonderful ethereal glow.
We then walked to the jetty, which is always a busy place, especially close to sunset. Fishermen were casting shrimp in hopes of catching a big snook, and dolphins were swimming in the channel in search of dinner. Motorboats of all types and sizes were going too and fro and majestic sailboats were heading out to sea.
After we got our fill of the jetty, we strolled back to the pavilion and photographed flowers to test the macro capabilities of the camera. We successfully shot a wide variety of subject matter with our Velvet 56 lenses, which shows the versatility of the lens. The lens also has a built-in lens hood, which can be removed to attach filters with a 62mm thread. If you want to shoot wide open in bright sunlight, consider investing in a 62mm ND filter.
Conclusion: The Velvet 56 is a stout performer. The lens is well balanced for Fuji mirrorless cameras. The build quality is excellent. The lens focus ring operates smoothly and offers just the right amount of friction. The aperture ring has built in detents to let you know when you’ve changed apertures, and falls readily to hand. The Velvet 56 for Fuji X-mount retails for $499, which is a reasonable price when you consider the versatility of the lens. In one package you have a lens that is ideally suited for shooting portraits, landscapes, flowers, insects and much more. The lens is black, which matches the black Fuji bodies perfectly. The lens compares very favorably to the Fujinon 56mm f/1.2, which sells for $999. With the Velvet 56 you get an incredibly fast lens that is suited for any subject matter, with a little bit of Lensbaby magic thrown in. The Velvet 56 just may become the most used lens in my camera bag. Well done, Lensbaby.