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Petzval 80.5mm f/1.9 MKII Evaluation: A Beautiful Classic-Fashion Lens


Simply over a yr in the past, Lomography launched the 180th Anniversary Edition of the Petzval 80.5mm f/1.9 MKII Bokeh Control Art Lens which promised a bevy of enhancements over its 85mm predecessor. It regarded as if it might put a historic lens again within the arms in creatives at an inexpensive $549 price. So does it?

The 80.5mm f/1.9 MKII Artwork Lens with Bokeh Management was in growth at Lomography for about seven years and is lastly obtainable for Nikon F and Canon EF mounts. Whereas the “primary model” is obtainable in three completely different colours, the bokeh management mannequin that I reviewed right here is just obtainable in black aluminum.

Moreover the colour limitation, the true distinction between the essential and this bokeh management model is the power to manage the quantity of swirly bokeh impact within the photos utilizing the Bokeh Management Ring which works from 1 (barely noticeable) to 7 (most bokeh). I do really feel like making the dimensions go to eleven was a missed alternative however, we are able to let that slide for now.

The unique Petzval lenses from 1840 have been beforehand solely adaptable to massive format cameras till Lomography began rebuilding them for digital techniques in 2013. In doing so, the corporate sought to carry again the previous “romantic” aesthetic from early portraits. Regardless that this explicit lens was meant for the Nikon F mount, adapting it with the FTZ mount made it fast and straightforward to make use of on the Nikon Z mirrorless system with none points.

Because the lens solely weighs 440 grams, it’s simple to steadiness on a gimbal which might make it fairly a enjoyable lens for videographers to make use of as effectively. For the needs of this evaluate, nevertheless, we’ll concentrate on the lens from the attitude of a nonetheless shooter.

Construct High quality and Design

The 80.5mm Petzval lens doesn’t look all that completely different from another guide lens apart from the built-in lens hood and the steel lens cap. It does have a few notable variations although: the bokeh management ring situated on the finish of the lens and the “slide plates” you’ll be able to insert to vary the form of the bokeh, must you determine to go that further step.

The main target, aperture, and bokeh rings every have an excellent quantity of rigidity in them that I seen when making changes, so that you shouldn’t have to fret about any drifting because of gravity or positioning. Nevertheless, since all three of those rings are the “clickless” fashion (which means there isn’t any noticeable click on whenever you make adjustments), you need to double-check your settings in case you are about to take an essential shot to ensure no ring has slipped.

I discovered that after I shot freehand it was simple to by chance bump one of many three rings barely whereas shifting round. Outdoors of that cautionary second, the lens dealt with effectively and general felt nice to shoot with. Aesthetically, the lens is rugged, too. Even the paint on the barrel of the lens and the lettering felt nearly not possible to scuff up. It’s clear that the group at Lomography took their time with the standard presentation and look of this lens.

One thing that does concern me in regards to the longevity of this optic although is the dearth of climate sealing or safety. Whereas the lens appears to be designed fairly effectively, the truth that there isn’t any point out of climate sealing on the official web site and that lens has a drop-in bokeh sample insert leads me to imagine you need to be further cautious utilizing this lens outdoors within the “parts” simply to make sure no water will get inside it.

It’s also value noting that the bokeh management model of this lens is just not capable of simply have an ND, polarizer, or another threaded filter kind mounted to it. In my testing, I didn’t have any want for it, however I can completely envision conditions the place an ND filter would turn out to be useful. Possibly sooner or later, this may very well be one thing that would finally be re-designed into the drop-in part for the bokeh management. The essential model of this lens lists a 62mm thread for filters, and reportedly the Bokeh management model has a 67mm thread (no less than on the Canon mount), however in each conditions, they don’t seem to be simple to put or take away.

Focus and Aperture

The lens has an aperture vary of f/1.9 to f/16 and every of these stops seems to be as anticipated from a high quality standpoint. That mentioned, with a lens like this it’s sort of arduous to think about why you’ll need to shoot it at something greater than large open, because it detracts from the entire function of getting it the extra you shut that aperture down.

When taking pictures at f/4 or larger and with bokeh management at its minimal, it truthfully seems to be like another 80mm lens. When you find yourself at f/3.5 and shallower, that’s when the true nature of the lens begins to shine. Nonetheless, I can see the benefit of a lens that has the power to supply wildly distinctive visuals whereas additionally is ready to remodel into one thing extra “regular.” It does add to the usability of the optic.

If you shoot large open, you may be met with a comfortable focus and distorted classic really feel, which is probably going the entire purpose you’ll choose up one thing like this lens within the first place. With that in thoughts, be ready to take loads of further pictures to make sure you’ve nailed your focus as it may be simple to overlook. That brings me to my subsequent be aware a couple of studying curve — The Bokeh Management.

I’ve by no means used a lens like this earlier than and, at first, it actually threw my composition sport for a loop. As I realized find out how to use the lens, I’ll admit that there have been loads of deleted pictures within the evaluate course of. Like I discussed above, the bokeh management helps you to shift by seven ranges of bokeh, with stage one being just about the identical as you’d see on a typical f/1.9 kind lens and stage seven pushing out the utmost bokeh impact. Since I wished to deal with this like a vintage-style lens, I shot at f/1.9 and cranked the bokeh dial all the way in which as much as seven.

What I found is with a lens like this, you must throw your standard coaching for composition utterly out the window.

Discover her brow and hair are out of the “protected zone” and blurred right here.

To get issues “in focus” at these settings, you successfully want to make sure your topic is useless middle within the body. Even when your digicam tells you it’s in focus close to the perimeters with focus-peaking, as soon as you’re taking the shot, the borders will probably be crammed with swirl and bokeh. Once I handled the Petzval 80.5mm like another portrait lens, I tousled a bunch of the early photos till I managed to compensate for this.

When you shift your compositional pondering, taking pictures with this lens can get fairly enjoyable with the 80.5mm’s comfortable focus and extremely swirly bokeh patterns.

Picture High quality

When you do occur to make use of this lens at f/4 or larger, it behaves and returns outcomes like another prime lens of that focal size in the marketplace apart from the very outer edges of the body which is able to nonetheless present a small quantity of tell-tale bokeh swirls and vignetting the Petzval lenses are made to supply. I did take a good quantity of pictures at that f/4 to f/16 vary and so they have been all similar to the pattern picture under.

So long as you nail your focus, the picture is sharp. Colours come out of the digicam a bit of bit on the cooler aspect than regular, however that’s simply compensated for in submit if you wish to heat issues again up.

f/8 Bokeh Stage 1
f/1.9 Bokeh Stage 7

As you’ll be able to see from the above examples, the distinction from “regular” to “true Petzval” is fairly excessive, and I’ve to say… I sort of find it irresistible on the acute finish. The factor to bear in mind with this lens is should you use it the way in which it’s meant for use, solely your “middle mass” will probably be in focus. If you achieve this, your pictures will probably be comfortable, dreamy, and filled with unimaginable bokeh.

Moreover, if you wish to get a bit of extra inventive together with your bokeh patterns, the lens lets you insert bokeh slides with some pre-cut shapes in them, shifting the patterns from the comfortable oval/circle to one thing solely new. Within the package deal I reviewed, the lens got here with three inserts that mean you can add a star, diamond, or coronary heart sample to your pictures as seen under.

Pattern Photographs

A Splendidly Pleasurable Lens

After practically a yr of not likely capturing as a result of pandemic, not solely did working with this lens drive me to regulate my topic framing mindset, it truly received me extremely impressed to get out and shoot extra as a complete. I discovered myself capturing extra photos of issues I might have by no means even checked out beforehand as subject material, all due to how the bokeh patterns can do such wild and attention-grabbing issues.

The Petzval 80.5mm f/1.9 MKII SLR Bokeh Control Art lens is obtainable from the Lomography store for $549, inserting it someplace across the center of different “regular” 85mm lens costs that vary from $200 to $800.

Issues I Favored

  • The flexibility to manage the quantity of bokeh is attention-grabbing and enjoyable
  • Stable steel physique and lens hood
  • Easy and steady aperture, focus, and bokeh rings
  • Sharper than I anticipated when capturing f/4 to f/16
  • Small and Light-weight
  • Helpful for video
  • Reasonably priced worth given the area of interest market
  • Clickless rings work effectively
  • Paint appears to be very scuff-proof

Issues I Didn’t Like

  • Slightly vital studying curve
  • Unable to simply mount ND or different filters
  • Focusing may be exceptionally difficult, particularly when capturing large open
  • No climate proofing

Are there Alternate options?

The Petzval lenses are a really area of interest fashion with the one actual rival for one thing else as distinctive and attention-grabbing because the Lomography lenses can be the Lensbaby lineup, and whereas Lensbaby has some extremely enjoyable and attention-grabbing merchandise, I don’t imagine they’ve something that really competes or compares to the Petzval bokeh patterns, nor this lens’s flexibility or sharpness.

Ought to You Purchase It?

Sure. The Petzval 80.5mm f/1.9 is appropriate for each skilled in addition to inventive causes, and — maybe most significantly — it’s only a blast to shoot.



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