If you are connected with me on any of my social media you probably know how much I love my Lensbaby Velvet 85. But I have a confession to make, for a very long time I didn’t like the look of the Velvet 56 (first Velvet on the market) and I never intended to own one. But then the 85 was launched and Lensbaby kindly offered to send me one and I was hooked from the first time I used it.
I mostly shoot around f4 when I’m using either of the Velvet lenses, there’s a lovely softness around the edges of the frame but none of the glow that comes from shooting at a wider aperture. I often try to avoid the glow since it doesn’t always suit the subject or scene and focusing can be challenging. But now and again I’ll embrace the effect and open up the aperture to f2 or f1.8.
I don’t keep a note of apertures but all the above were taken between f2.8 and f1.8, I’m pretty sure the final image was at f1.8.
How to focus your Lensbaby Velvet lens at wider apertures:
If you’ve ever tried to shoot wide open with your Lensbaby you’ve probably realised that focusing can be very difficult. Even if you have focus peaking the glow of wide apertures means it’s not accurate. I’ve found from experience that it’s better to compose your image and focus the shot with an aperture of f4 or f5.6 and then change the aperture (don’t forget to adjust the exposure too!) before shooting. You’ll need to ensure that you don’t move at all between setting focus and taking the shot, at a wide aperture it doesn’t take much movement to throw the focus off, and the best way to do this is by using a tripod. I’m really not a tripod fan so for images like these I wedge my elbows firmly on the table and take notice of the position of major elements in relation to the edge of the frame in case I move slightly. I also take a series of 3 or 4 images with just the smallest movement of the focus ring and generally find if the focus in the first image is slightly off one of the others will work.
Do you have any other tips for focus at wider apertures? If you have why not share them in the comments…