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Medium format Petzval portrait lens. Petzvar.

Denys Ivanichek , Nov 04, 2013; 01:56 a.m.

About three years ago I have assembled my Petzvar 120 mm portrait lens. It is made by the original Petzval scheme, non-improved or re-engineered, but given a contemporary lens barrel with the iris diaphragm and 72 mm filter thread mount for easy use. I must admit, it has become one of my favorite lens. Here you can see a sample images:
Do you think, this is an interesting lens to try a small batch production project, or should I just keep playing with it myself?
Please, share your opinion or suggestions.


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Uncle Goose , Nov 04, 2013; 03:41 a.m.

If it was not too expensive I would certainly buy one, especially because it's in P6 mount, it would fit great on my Arax camera.

JDM von Weinberg , Nov 04, 2013; 11:29 a.m.

Nice. Good for you.
How expensive was this experiment and what would you likely have to charge for it, if you don't mind saying, if it's even possible to estimate?

Like Uncle, I find it intriguing. I have both a Pentacon 6TL and an adapter of that mount to Canon EOS.

Rodeo Joe , Nov 04, 2013; 01:11 p.m.

Sorry, but it looks like a 'one trick pony' to me. The swirled edges would seem to force the subject into the centre of the picture, which doesn't encourage creative composition or framing. And then you have competition from PhotoShop - doubtless a much cheaper and more flexible option for most people.

There's a TV program called Dragon's Den, and I'm pretty sure that this proposition would have all the dragon's quickly saying "I'm out!".

Denys Ivanichek , Nov 04, 2013; 01:56 p.m.

Uncle Goose, JDM von Weinberg: Thank you for your interest! You are correct, building the working prototype here, in the US was very expensive. I will try to keep the price as low, as possible. If I will be able to find at least a hundred people, who will be interested in getting the copy of the lens, then it is going to cost me about 450$ a piece to order the CNC machining and manufacturing of the glass elements for the small batch order.

Denys Ivanichek , Nov 04, 2013; 02:21 p.m.

Rodeo Joe: Yes, you are absolutely correct: the focus fall-off is making the image composing a harder task, as well as a very shallow depth of field. The Petzval design is a very early lens scheme, it has a lots of uncorrected optical flaws and comparing it to the modern lenses is like comparing the steam engine to the monorail train. I do not even mention that fact, that PhotoShop is a huge competitor to the analogue photography in general, but millions of photographers still prefer film to digital.
There is one more thing in the lens' defence: as you know, modern full frame digital cameras can be used for taking the video. Using this kind of lens can be very useful for creative videographers.

Robin Smith , Nov 04, 2013; 02:34 p.m.

I like it, and I like the results. Good job. How much would it cost? That is the real question for most of us.

Anthony Oresteen , Nov 04, 2013; 05:31 p.m.

I'm interested. I'd like it to fit my Hasselblad 2000F/CM. What would the cost be?

JDM von Weinberg , Nov 04, 2013; 06:20 p.m.

Of course, even cheaper is always good for the buyer, but if you could bring it in the price range you say, I think there's a chance for it. You'd have to reach out to a broader crowd than just Photo.net, but I think it might be doable.

As for

The swirled edges would seem to force the subject into the centre of the picture, which doesn't encourage creative composition or framing.

This is simply a common feature of many original Petzval lenses.They are primarily intended for portrait work and are supposed to "do that". Original Petzvals usually sell for quite a lot to shooters who want that effect.

The catch here for Denys is that Lomography has already raised money for such a lens ( (link) ). I don't know how that is going, but they raised the start-up money and then some. Updates on their progress at http://microsites.lomography.com/petzval-lens/

Denys Ivanichek , Nov 04, 2013; 07:14 p.m.

Robin, thank you for your interest! As I have mentioned above, I will try to keep it at about 450$. I do not think that I will be able to get the attention of many people interested in financing this small project, because I have never advertised the lens before, but if there will be at least one hundred supporters, then I will go ahead and start working on the production of the small order of the lenses.

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