Dan Mandell tested the lens and concluded:
“I could justify buying it simply because of its increased situational versatility. While you have the option to go full artsy with this lens, you can dial it down or season to taste if you prefer. It would have been interesting to really see how this lens works in even more diverse scenarios. Off the top of my head, I can think of a few things. There are probably ways to exploit what the lens does to create more targeted areas of effect. Using spotlights or fresnels, you could literally paint in or pinpoint areas of light that would receive the effect. Even light painting or long exposure shots have interesting possibilities here.
I’m happy to see Lensbaby making some moves in this direction. I look forward to more and more interesting entries into the market from them”
ThePhoBlographer tested the E-mount version:
The Lensbaby Velvet 85mm f1.8 is a great lens in so many ways. It’s surely an improvement over the previous offering and it fantastic for portrait photographers. If you’re a fan of the classic lenses in terms of build quality and image quality, it’s going to be very difficult to get something better than this. Can it be sharper? Sure; but I’ll be the first person to tell you that you can deepen the black levels, boost the clarity and raise the sharpness to enhance overall sharpness in a photo. Almost nothing on the market will give you colors like this though unless you know how to get them. And the honest truth is that you can walk into all these Facebook groups with images that people say look like real film, but they’re really not. This, however, gets close.