Lensbaby Velvet 85mm

In Creating, Digital, Fine Art Photography, Review
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A little over a year ago I purchased my first Lensbaby lens. I had admired the magical effects of this line of lenses for a few years, but never could narrow it down to which one to buy. When they released the Velvet 85, I was curious, and because I did not own a 85mm lens, it seemed logical to do some research.

I poured over websites to see what I could find. The reviews were good and the photos magical, and I was excited with what I saw. The lens seemed to shine when it came to taking photographs of flowers, and in mid-July my flowers were in all their glory. So I crossed my fingers and took the plunge.

I could not wait to get the lens out into my gardens and dove right into my flower beds trying to get comfortable with it. Because it is a full manual lens I had to really take my time to get the shot just right. (There was a lot of deleting going on once the photos were uploaded.)  I also learned that it packed a powerful amount of glow at an aperture of F/1.8 and a very soft focus. I played around with the aperture, discovering that at F/2.8 small details started to come into focus and there was not as much glow. At F/5.6 the focal point was sharp and the glow softened.

To be honest the Velvet 85 intimidated me and because of that I was guilty of leaving the lens behind when I left the house. I felt it was best used for flowers and macros in my own backyard, where I had more control of light and subjects. So I would often reach instead for my old standby lenses when I headed out. I knew what I really needed was practice. Practice with all kinds of subjects, in different light and in different situations. So I started tucking it inside my camera bag, just in case. It didn’t take long before “she” was going with me everywhere and we were having tons of creative fun. 

I still have so much to learn about this beautiful lens. And for any of you who are into all the technical ins and outs of lenses and how they work, this one is full of details. Me, I like to feel my way around a lens; too much information only bogs me down and muddles my mind.

Basically,  I don’t leave home without her.

xo. Cathy 


  1. Cathy, I totally can relate to how intimidating the Velvet 85 is at first and, like you, I had to do a lot of experimenting before I felt really comfortable with it. I love the soft glow it creates and with practice I am becoming better at getting the focus point just right. Lensbaby really speaks to the artist in me. Your shots are gorgeous, I especially love the one of the leaf on the table! xo

  2. I don’t have a Lensbaby (yet), but I do have a vintage Nikon 135mm from 1968 gifted to me by my FIL that I absolutely love. It makes me slow down to focus, concentrating so hard . . . time stands still for me when I use it. Beautiful photos, Cathy!

    • Katie, “I don’t have a Lensbaby (yet)”, I like your thinking. How fun to have a vintage Nikon lens. Manual lens are wonderful for bringing some mindfulness into photography.

  3. I have never owned a lensbaby, but oh these images make me want to try one. They are so rich and full of wonderful details. I am tempted…

  4. These images are all so gorgeous! I’m so impressed with what you and this lens can do! Wow!

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