Lensbaby Velvet 85

Joined
Mar 11, 2012
Messages
959
Location
Melbourne - Australia
Doesn't look like this is a popular lens on here.

Anyway, I've had time to think, and at this stage will give the lens a miss. I've had dodgy mounts from 3rd party suppliers before, although not from Lensbaby, and I'm not prepared to risk such an expensive body to find out.

Fuji have now caught my eye with their new X-Pro3 and the reported function of setting the start and end point for focus stacking and the camera works out the number of images.
Hopefully this functionality, if it works okay, will make it to other Fuji models via a firmware update. Maybe one day, Nikon, and Olympus will follow suit.
 
Joined
Mar 11, 2012
Messages
959
Location
Melbourne - Australia
I've had some good feedback from another group regarding this lens.

With the current 20% off, I decided to bite the bullet. Hopefully the lens turns up today so I can put it through its paces over the weekend.
 
Somewhere I have an older Lensbaby something-or-other which I used maybe two or three times before deciding that it was just too fiddly and too gimmicky and that I could get the results I wanted by proper use of the correct lens, aperture choice and such. That one, I forget what it was called now, had a bunch of little rings one was supposed to put in front of the lens one was using, it wasn't an actual proper lens on its own. I put the thing away and pretty much forgot about it. I know that now Lensbaby is making actual lenses, emphasizing bokeh and blur and softness.

Fairly recently I've seen some images from a Lensbaby Velvet ( I think 50mm?) .and frankly many of those images have made me feel that I need to make an appointment with my ophthalmologist! They're usually very blurry due to the attempt to create a soft effect with pleasing bokeh, and there doesn't seem to be any sharp element in the image, no actual focal point for the eye to latch on to. I don't know enough about the actual lens to know whether or not this is actually due to error or faulty eyesight on the part of the photographer or not, but it does make me wonder why she just doesn't buy a proper macro lens and if she feels she needs or wants more or smoother bokeh, add a Kenko extension tube to the lens and play around with the results that can produce.....

I'll be interested to see what you are able to do with the Velvet 85!
 
Joined
Mar 11, 2012
Messages
959
Location
Melbourne - Australia
Thank you @Clix Pix for your thoughts.

While I’ve used the Velvet 85 with F mount, it is a lens I’ve not used a lot. The Z mount lens turned up today, and when attaching the lens to the body, it feels very similar to mounting a Nikon Z mount lens. The mount was my concern.

As the lens is fully manual, I found trying to focus using a DSLR somewhat tricky at times, particularly when the lens was stopped down as the image could get quite dark. This isn’t an issue when using a mirrorless body, or using live view on the DSLR.

I can understand where you are coming from with regards the images some photographers post using these lenses. However, in my experience once you get to f/4.0 and beyond the results of what's in focus is similar to using other lenses. At this stage there are no other Z mount macro lenses I'm aware of, and while this lens is only 1:2 magnification, it will do until I can invest in a 1:1 Z mount macro lens. I do have a number of F mount 1:1 macro lenses I could use with the adapter, but for some reason Z mount lenses feel 'just right' on the bodies

I’ll give the lens a test run tomorrow, however, having a quick play it’s nice to get a preview of the results from the mirrorless body.
 
One reason I am more than likely going to go with a Sony A7R4 rather than a Nikon Z 6 or 7 is precisely because Sony does offer native macro lenses and at this point Nikon does not with their Z series. I am not keen on using adapters of any sort -- tried that a few years ago with my Sony NEX-7 and a couple of my Nikon lenses and was less than satisfied. I just prefer having the camera body and the lens meant to go with each other right from the get-go rather than needing to add something else in there.

Ah, you've probably hit on what may be the problem for many people using a Lensbaby with a DSLR: using manual focus and optical VF and not having all the information at one's fingertips, and the lack of focus peaking, makes a huge difference, and yeah, I can imagine that using the Lensbaby with a mirrorless camera getting exactly the results one wants would be much easier! That makes perfect sense to me.

Looking forward to seeing what you can do with your new Lensbaby!
 
Joined
Mar 11, 2012
Messages
959
Location
Melbourne - Australia
I went out to one of the local gardens this morning with the Lensbaby and camera in my bag. I took my birding setup and was photographing birds. If I came across something I wanted to try the lensbaby on I just grabbed the camera out of the bag and fired off a couple of shots. To keep things simple I left the lens on f/5.6. Normally I would change the settings to suit the subject, but as there is no aperture info in the EXIF data, and my primary objective today was birding, it saved me taking notes.
It was quite windy today, so there was the odd miss focus as the subject was moving while I was focusing and taking the shot.

#1
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Joined
Mar 11, 2012
Messages
959
Location
Melbourne - Australia
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Joined
Mar 11, 2012
Messages
959
Location
Melbourne - Australia
Thank you @Clix Pix for your kind comments!

I feel using a macro lens, even though it’s not 1:1 is a better option for me than using extension rings, or closeup lenses. Most of my photography is using macro lenses, which is why I have so many. :) Once more Z mount macros become available I’ll start moving my F mount ones on.
 
I agree with you about using a macro lens as opposed to extension tubes or closeup lenses; somehow the results are just so much better than with either of the other two methods. I've got some Kenko extension tubes and a couple of the Canon closeup screw-on lenses but have not used either very often. I've experimented with them from time to time and even on a macro lens, just for something different, but that's about it. Looking at the roadmap Nikon has provided, it's hard to tell just when they will start providing macro lenses, so that is one of the reasons I am much more interested in Sony's offerings at this point. They have a 50mm macro and an excellent 90mm macro plus a 100mm STF lens that, although technically not a macro, has some special mechanism for creating wonderful bokeh and for fairly close-up focal distance.

So many choices and option these days, for photographers?! I definitely see the possibilities now in Lensbaby -- they've come a long way!
 
Joined
Mar 11, 2012
Messages
959
Location
Melbourne - Australia
I know quite a number of photographers who have changed over to Sony, I think the majority were originally, or still are, Canon users. Although, I know a few Olympus, Fuji, and Nikon users who have also changed to Sony. I'm currently using three brands of cameras, so Sony for me at this stage is not something I would consider

We're heading into summer here downunder, and as you can see in photo #1 on the bottom left, and photo #5 the Kangaroo Paws are coming into flower. These flowers make for challenging bird photography as the birds move around through the plants getting the nectar. These are not with the Lensbaby, but is one of the reasons I visit the gardens semi regularly at this time of the year.

Eastern Spinebill from last summer in the Kangaroo Paws
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New Holland Honeyeater also in the Kangaroo Paws
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This was taken yesterday, and is one of the reasons I mostly use macro lenses. Although the Duck Orchids have finished flowering in our area, this patch in a reserve which was burnt last summer have flowered late. These flowers are smaller than a dime.
I take thousands of images of native orchids in the bush each year. Not only are the majority small, making them difficult to find, but many only last a few days. I come across a number of Sony users in the bush also chasing the native orchids.
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If its not windy, like it has been all weekend, I would take a focus stack to get the whole flower in focus
This is a 10 image focus stack taken a few weeks ago
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Anyway, back to the topic of this thread.

I'm more than happy with the Lensbaby on a Z mount body. It will certainly get some use over the next few weeks as we head into summer, and more than likely early into 2020, before I move into other genres. I'm sure it would make for a nice portrait lens, particularly with its 12-blade aperture, but that is one genre which doesn't interest me currently.
 
Those are wonderful photos -- love those kangaroo paws flowers! Very cool, capturing the birds in there! In Oz, you have such interesting flora and fauna!

The duck orchids are intriguing -- and I can definitely see why they are called that! Definitely looks like a duck!

I envy you with being in summertime right now as here winter is approaching and we're having a chillier November than we usually do, which makes it less pleasant to go out shooting. We have a lovely botanical gardens not too far from where I live and in the spring and summer it's a real delight; even in early fall there are plenty of things to shoot, but now, heading into winter the main place for shooting flowers and plants is in their indoor atrium area.

Focus stacking is one thing I've never attempted, although I've seen comments about the process and the results of the process -- really makes a difference when shooting macro!

I've been waffling and waffling for over a year now trying to make up my mind about what I want to do and have watched and waited, read others' comments, seen various images from various cameras, etc. Ever since I purchased my Sony NEX-7 several years ago I have really liked mirrorless and knew that I probably would not buy another DSLR, that whatever I chose next would be mirrorless and preferably full-frame. About a year and a half ago I started really thinking about getting a new camera, and then of course Nikon announced and eventually released the Z series and I thought, "well, let's watch and see how this goes...." and Sony announced and released the A7III, which had stellar reviews, and then I became more interested in the A7RIII, and just about the time I was settling on the idea of getting one of those, Sony released the A7R IV! Time to get moving with whatever I am going to do, I've been dawdling long enough now!

A photographer friend here in my area and I went out shooting together a few months ago and he had just recently gotten the new Canon R something-or-other, his first mirrorless, and he is very pleased with it. He's been a Canon shooter for a long time. I'm not sure if he needs to use adapters with his earlier lenses but the day we were shooting he had a couple of native R lenses, one a medium-range one and the other one a longer lens.

I agree with you about portraiture -- that's not something which interests me much, either, although I do enjoy occasionally capturing candids when people are having fun and not aware of the camera, not deliberately posing. Macro (flowers, objects, etc.) and birds (especially water birds) are my favorite things to shoot. It drives me wild when I'm out shooting and the day is windy so that just as I'm about the press the shutter button, my subject suddenly gets blown by the breeze! Frustrating! Even a fast shutter speed may not be enough to stop the motion.

Enjoy your new Lensbaby and I'm looking forward to seeing more from that unique lens!
 
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