Joined: 09 Jun 2018
|Posted: Sat Jun 09, 2018 10:53 pm Post subject: Velvet 56, Fuji 56 APD
|I have or have used some lenses mentioned.
The Fuji 56 APD has improved Bokeh. The non-APD version tends to be a bit "agitated" when there is significant contrast in background elements. The APD version makes this smoother in a way that is just slightly better than the Nikon 85/1.4 or the Canon 85/1.2. It is just a bit inferior to the Zeiss 85/1.4 Planar ZF2 (the model on the old design before the Otus). To be clear, they are all great lenses and you have to see side by side shots of the same scene to distinguish between the Nikon, Canon and Fuji APD. Images from the non-APD Fuji are a bit easier to distinguish from the APD Fuji, so it was a worthwhile upgrade, although it comes at significant cost (financial) as well as hindering AF efficiency and light transmission.
The Lensbaby soft focus which uses the perforated rings is not really a high-quality soft focus look. More of a toy-lens soft focus look.
The Lensbaby Velvet 56 is much nicer. The controlled aberration is on the periphery and, as the lens is closed down, the effect is reduced. Roughly speaking, f2.8 is the transition point from soft to "normal." Wide open is soft in a way which is beyond useful for my taste, but some like it. It is also Macro capable.
The above-mentioned Zeiss 85/1.4 ZF2 has a similar softening quality wide open (although not nearly so pronounced) which disappeares as soon as you stop down at all. Zeiss intentionally retained this quality until the recent update because it was favored by some portrait photographers. To be clear, I wouldn't call it "soft focus"--it isn't that dramatic.
The Mamiya 180mm was a very interesting lens. The various disks cut light transmission and softening. Closing down also eliminated the softening. With the right disk setup, you could keep or eliminate the softening effect by opening or closing the aperture by one stop on the aperture ring but, because the disk cut down on light transmission, the exposure difference on film was a fraction of a stop, which was fine with Portra print film, giving you an easy on and off switch for soft focus without changing your lighting set up.