There has been a lot of buzz surrounding the newest lens in the Lensbaby family. The Velvet 56 offers a bit of a departure from what Lensbaby has been known by in that it has forgone the ability to selectively manipulate the plane of focus into a point or tangential plane, with most lenses offering the ability to be swapped into or out of one of their lens housing bodies like the Composer Pro, or Scout.
The new Velvet 56 is a solidly built, fixed focal length 56mm f/1.6 prime lens that has a different trick up its sleeve. In days of yore, many portrait photographers used lenses that would intentionally soften contrast and the overall image, aptly called “soft focus” lenses.
Enter the Velvet 56, and as its name suggests, it is as smooth as Barry White by candlelight. C’mon in for some sample shots and my thoughts…
I’ve been working through some lens reviews, and wanted to take a break from the technical, to share a lighting setup. Portraiture wise, I tend to normally go in one of two directions, either very minimal, directional, moody light, or a sh*t ton of lights. This setup is the latter. Using 4 lights and a reflector, my goal for shooting with Trisha was to wrap her in light from every direction. I knew I wanted to really showcase her beautiful blue eyes, and getting enough light into them meant lighting her from the front high and low. C’mon in for the setup.
Now, I’ve yet to get my mitts on a Velvet 56 of my own, but I plan to, and I’ll review the crap out of it when I do :) In the mean time, check out the announcement by Lensbaby today:
Lensbaby Announces Availability of Fuji X Mounts for Flagship Lenses
Company also adds popular mirrorless mounts for hugely successful Velvet 56 portrait lens
Now, readers may remember a mere 6 months or so ago, I purchased the Voigtländer 42.5mm f/0.95 lens (see that review on a new page HERE) for my micro 4/3 system setup. I’ve loved that lens, but since its announcement I’ve been curious about the Leica branded Nocticron, largely because I do really enjoy shooting two of the other Leica branded lenses for the system in the Summicron 15mm and 25mm models. The asking price for this portrait lens was always high for my taste, which was why I opted for the Voigt to begin with (which isn’t cheap in its own right, but 2/3 the retail price of the Nocti). Well, as luck would have it, an open box/like new Nocticron came up for sale at near the same price as the Voigtländer and my curiosity couldn’t be held back, and now I’m tasked with figuring out which one to hold onto.
Here are my initial impressions on this beautiful lens.
This is purely a personal journey here. A little retrospective look back at the last couple months to see what I’ve been getting out of the new Sony a7II (Sony Alpha a7II Mirrorless Digital Camera -Body Only- at B&H HERE). I tend to spend a lot of time looking at specific things in regard to a lens or camera for the blog here, and I figured I’d compile a few shots from the combination of lenses I’ve been using. I have mostly used my Canon EF mount lenses via the Metabones adapter (review on that HERE), but have recently acquired the Zeiss 55mm f/1.8 because I felt the camera deserved to also be shot with a high quality native mount lens, plus I was curious to see how it handled this new, crazy feature all the kids talk about in auto focus. Click any image below to see a larger version, and let me know your thoughts in the comments. Less talk, more rock as it were. Without further ado… Continue reading
Olympus continues to add to its Pro lens quiver with the M.Zuiko Digital 1.4x Teleconverter MC-14, available as a useful accessory to the 40-150mm f/2.8 Pro Zoom lens. Currently, the Olympus M.Zuiko 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO lens is the only lens that this teleconverter works with, but I’d assume that once we see the soon to be M.Zuiko 300mm f/4 PRO prime lens show up, that number will climb to two.
A teleconverter effectively multiplies the focal length of the lens it is coupled to, while decreasing the lens speed by one whole stop in the case of a 1.4x, or two stops when using a 2x tele converter (Oly, feel free to bust one of these guys out too!). In this case, it converts the 40-150mm f/2.8 lens into a 56-210mm f/4 optic which translates to an effective field of view in full frame terms of 112-420mm. Not a bad range, and one that for system users essentially turns the 40-150 (80-300mm e-fov) into two very useful lenses if we’re to look at it in Full Frame equivalency as a workhorse, studio portrait/event tele zoom akin to the various 70-200mm f/2.8 lenses as well as the more sport and light wildlife tele zooms of the world in the 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 flavor, it begins to make a lot more sense as to why Olympus chose this range, as opposed to what would have been a more traditional 35-100mm (70-200mm) lens in the first place. Hmmmmm… Continue reading
“Festive Spirit” by Manizkrishnan (see more HERE), our Portrait Challenge Winner!
Congratulations Manizkrishnan! A beautiful portrait chosen from a very beautiful group of amazing submissions this month. We are one challenge away from our second semi-annual giveaway vote where Manizkrishnan will be entered against our 5 other monthly winners in a vote to decide our overall favorite image from the last six challenges, and to the overall winner go the spoils of free stuff.
Thank you to everyone who submitted, it was one of my favorite challenges so far. I love seeing portraits, candid, spontaneous or staged in all their glory and feel it has always been one of my central draws to photography. Capturing a human story within a singular frame can be a great challenge, and we had a multitude of beautifully executed portraits this month, so I hope that you all enjoyed capturing and submitting your work as much as we did in getting to see it all.
Keep shooting, and stay tuned to find out what this month’s theme will be, as chosen by our winner, Manizkrishnan!
Thanks to Heather and Mat from Mirrorlessons, and join me in wishing them luck in their move! Here’s to hoping that the relocation will bring excitement and inspiration in this new chapter for you guys.
As always, I’d love to connect via Facebook, Twitter, Flickr or Instagram so feel free to find me on any or all of those platforms, and to stay posted on new articles, feel free to add your email address at the top right of the page here. You’ll get email alerts as new articles are released.
Thanks all and happy shooting,