Medium format Petzval portrait lens. Petzvar.

Discussion in 'Medium Format' started by denys_ivanichek, Nov 3, 2013.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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!".
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. I like it, and I like the results. Good job. How much would it cost? That is the real question for most of us.
  8. I'm interested. I'd like it to fit my Hasselblad 2000F/CM. What would the cost be?
  9. 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, 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 ( ). I don't know how that is going, but they raised the start-up money and then some. Updates on their progress at
  10. Robin, thank you for your interest! As I have mentioned above, I will try to keep it at about 450$. I do not think that I will be able to get the attention of many people interested in financing this small project, because I have never advertised the lens before, but if there will be at least one hundred supporters, then I will go ahead and start working on the production of the small order of the lenses.
  11. Anthony, thank you for your inquire! I will try to keep it at 450$. Here is a link to the Flange Focal Distance chart: As you can see, the FFD of the Hasselblad is a little longer, than of Pentacon Six, but very close to it. I will think about building another one with Hasselblad mount.
  12. JDM von Weinberg: Yes, that swirly part used to be cropped out on the images of that period by using the larger coverage lenses on the smaller size cameras. But now the lens design's flaw seems to be the only reason for that much of attention.
    Here is a link about the independent test of the Lomography lens:
    The main reason, why my lens is designated primarily for the medium format, is because 35mm frame can not give that feeling of volume, that many people like about large format. And the medium format is little closer to that, yet more convenient and affordable. Therefore, my lens is not the same as Lomography Lens, but because of it's longer Flange Focal Distance it is versatile enough to be used on many full frame 35 mm cameras.
  13. Golly, gee, where have all the fisheye lenses gone?
    One-trick pony, short-lived fad. Take the suckers while you can, Denys.
  14. Dan, maybe you are right, but it is just a matter of personal preferences. As a portrait photographer, I would prefer to have a good old Sonnar 2.8 180 and this "one-trick pony", rather than a whole bunch of wide angle lenses.
  15. Dan F
    Don't knock the fisheyes! They are surprisingly useful, but of course not for every day use. I wouldn't be without mine.
  16. Robin, I take y'r point even though my widest lenses are all rectilinear. But the fisheye fad -- shoot nearly anything and everything with a fisheye -- has long passed, along with the 35 mm SLR.
    The swirlies an abused Petzval gives are, at least for me, nauseating. Not for me, I don't enjoy vomiting and I don't like vomit's smell. But I recognize that other people like the effect very much. Funny thing is that a Petzval used as its makers (not Denys and the Lomography folks) intended can be amazingly sharp.
  17. Dan, funny thing is that some people assume that their own opinions, beliefs, preferences, values and habits are 'normal'.
    As I have mentioned before, it is just a matter of personal preferences. Why every lens supposed to be amazingly sharp? What's wrong with the people still using Imagons? The same effect can be achieved by clicking one button in editing software. Or, what is so terribly wrong with the people, spending thousands of dollars for antique Voigtlander's and Dallmeyer's lenses?
    I guess, nothing is wrong with them. They just want to use it, no matter what other people think about it.
  18. Denys, each has his own taste. I don't expect anyone to have my preferences.
    Read what I wrote. Some people like the swirlies very much. I don't want them to do otherwise. Let them be happy.
  19. Denys, I think you'll find a market for such a lens. LensBaby proved there's a niche for specialty soft focus lenses. I still occasionally use a Spiratone Portragon soft focus lens that was made during the 1990s, even before the retro fad. The Portragon lacks the unique character of the Petzval.
  20. Lex, thank you! It is a specialty lens, indeed. Not for everyday use, but rather for fine art photography. It is just an instrument, and different photographers can achieve different results using it. Some will like a swirls, other might use it for soft focus or close-up portraits or still lifes. There are millions of tack-sharp lenses on today's market, but pictures taken by those lenses look pretty much the same.
  21. You can buy 19th century vintage Carte de Viste Petzvals and have Grimes make a mount for them. Total cost should be under $800. I have an 1870s Darlot put in F mount for my Nikon D7100. It would also cover MF if I wanted another mount for it. The Lomo Kickstart project shows there is a market for this sort of thing.
    Kent in SD
  22. I might be wrong, but I think that Lomography Petzval is in fact Zenit's Helios 40-2 85mm. They have almost identical technical parameters and Lomography even updated the filter thread diameter of their lens, which was first advertised as 67 mm (the same as of Helios lens), but then was changed to 58 mm ( the diameter of original Helios lens front element glass is 56.9 mm). I guess, that was done in order to compensate the difference between thickness of original Helios aluminum body and Lomography's thin brass lens housing. By the way, Helios 40-2 is available now with Nikon and Canon mount, as well as with M42 thread, made fresh in summer 2013. I would, personally prefer this properly made lens to weird brass one.
    The Helios 40-2 is not a Petzval, it is a double-gauss, derived from 1930 Zeiss Biotar. Zeiss better corrected double-gauss scheme was used successfully on Planars as well. The Russian made Vega 12 is also a Biotar derivative and shows some swirling under certain conditions.
  23. Kent, I'm keeping a close eye on antique lenses for about six years and I can tell, that carte de visite cameras and lenses for those cameras are very rare. I remember the only one time I have purchased a real carte de visite Petzval lens made by Darlot. It was very small, about two and a half inches long, without any focusing gear, because there was at least four of them used on the same lens board at the same time. The lens was sold to gentleman from Italy on the same day I have listed it for sale. They are very rare. The majority of antique brass lenses available today belong to projectors. They have the same glass, as would be used on the photography lenses of that period, but their coverage is also pretty much the same: at least 3x4 inches plate. Also, those smaller coverage lenses are in high demand, therefore, sold for enormous money
  24. I'd be interested in one for the Hassy 2000F. Let me know if you go into production.
  25. [​IMG]
    What is so interesting about this lens? Is it better then the other medium format lenses?
    It is unique. It's not for everyday use, but it is a special tool in the arsenal of creative photographer. Its imperfections are its advantages.

Share This Page