A look at the Lomography Petzval 85mm F2.2 lens
2 Using the Petzval lens
A day shooting with the Petzval lens
By Stacy Patton
I took this lens out for a sunny afternoon with a friend in Southeast London. It had been a while since I'd spent the day with a camera in my hand, and on this day I had a Canon EOS 6D and a Petzval 85mm. And (it bears repeating) a sunny day in London.
I sat outside with a coffee while I waited for my friend, shooting a colourful storefront across the street. Like small talk on a first date, the Petzval and I got to know each other without working too hard. The light was a bit bright, and I didn’t get up, just steadied my elbows on the café table. First lesson of the Petzval: remember the manual focus—half-pressing the shutter has no effect whatsoever. The focus knob, positioned at roughly 7 o'clock on the lens barrel, fit easily between my left thumb and forefinger. The knob’s rotation is intuitively limited to a single twist forward to infinity, and back again to close focusing. There’s no rangefinder, though—no bars to line up, no textured circle to make clear, just your eye and the soft centre of the frame.
The Petzval's a looker.
It’s also a heavy lens, but I enjoyed the feel of it in my hands, and any perceived shortcomings about weight or focusing were quickly overshadowed by the sexy profile the Petzval cut on the street. This lens gets attention. My usual method is to hang in the shadows and crouch in the corners, shooting surreptitious portraits. But as I sat outside the bakery fooling with the camera, I kept catching folks making sidelong glances at my hands. Sneaking looks, scoping out my brassy new friend.
For me, there’s a great deal of joy in well-made machines—old typewriters, manual egg beaters, wind-up watches, and of course, cameras. The Petzval has these qualities and pleasures, with lovely little slot-in apertures, which were fun to fiddle with. But in the end, a bit fiddly. They make a particularly lovely noise (ting!) when you drop them, which I did, often.
But a bit fiddly.
You might have better luck if you're accustomed to carrying your camera around in a case and taking it out only for important photographic moments. Or maybe if you wear it around your neck on a strap. My habit, though, is to hold my camera by its grip loosely at my side, gunslinger-style. Not a great practice for this lens, as the apertures sit loosely in the lens barrel, held in place primarily by the force of gravity. Hold the camera at the wrong angle, and they fall out. Ting!
But the lens is beautiful wide open anyway, especially as they day wore on and the light softened. Everything you put in the centre of this lens emerges in a creamy swirl of colour. The hues it renders are deep and contrasty, the way I like them. Your subjects—even your banal subjects—just look prettier. But if you're a stickler for sharpness you'll have to look elsewhere.
Steady hands required.
As digital photographers sharpness has become a primary measure of quality in both lenses and images. But crystalline sharpness isn’t this lens’s strength – even at the point of focus, things farther than a few meters away render softly. Which, incidentally, is flattering for faces. I always aim for a sharp iris, and with this lens it's achievable with good light, a steady hand, and no more than three meters distance. But if your hand isn’t steady, and you cannot tolerate a bit of softness in your images, this lens might not be for you. It's a portrait lens, and it does that so beautifully that, even where you're not shooting portraits, it tends to make a portrait of whatever you placed near the centre of the frame.
By the end of the day I wanted it.
And if you like to shoot street portraits, as I do, the Petzval is a great conversation starter, giving you an 'in' with all kinds of strangers. It's sexy and fun, and people will want to talk to you about it. They want to know what is, what it does, and what you're doing with it. They wonder how heavy it is; it reminds them of a camera they had, or that their father had. They will let you take their picture with it. The Petzval is a looker, there's no denying it.
Even after only a couple of hours I felt downright romantic about it – pushing aside the unpleasant thought of its return, daydreaming of a weekend in Paris with it. I'd figured out just enough of its sweet spots to be utterly infatuated, and yet each image in the viewfinder still held the potential to surprise me. As I sit here writing I find myself wishing I had it with me – wishing that it were mine. At £480 Ms Petzval’s not a cheap date, nor is she the kind of girl you're likely to settle down with, given her quirkiness. But when you’re in the mood and the light is right, this shiny brassy lens makes one hell of a hot date.
|Global Reach by cjf2|
|Maligne Lake by Pete of Oz|
from - Mountain Lake - (Full Colours only + A Border)
Photographer Rick Wenner recently captured an odd event called the Race of the Gentlemen with a rather odd camera: The Phase One XF IQ3 Achromatic, the world's only 101MP black-and-white digital back.
Buying used is a good way to save some dough, and with the right precautions you can protect yourself from falling victim to a scam.
This two-part video series takes a deep dive into the world of dynamic symmetry and geometric composition, using iconic photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson's brilliant photographs as a guide.
Award-winning photographer Jeremy Cowart tells the moving story behind this drone photograph, captured in the aftermath of the devastating wildfire in Gatlinburg, TN in 2016.
Happy 2017 World Photo Day! We asked everyone on staff at DPReview to share one photo that they took within the last year that makes them jazzed on photography. Here's what we chose.
French President Emmanuel Macron has lodged a legal complaint against a paparazzo who snuck onto the president's private vacation property to take pictures.
Ever wonder what the difference is between compressed, uncompressed and lossless compressed Raw files? Photography Life's Nasim Mansurov breaks it down for you in this informative article.
The oldest known portrait of a US president was just discovered after over a century in storage. It's going up for auction in October, where it's expected to fetch between $150,000 and $250,000.
If you're using the popular Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 Art lens with Sigma's MC-11 converter, listen up: you'll want to update your lens and converter firmware ASAP.
If you've heard it once, you've probably heard it a thousand times: never check in your camera gear when flying. This shattered $11,000 lens is what can happen when you do.
Lensrentals just did its first Cine lens comparison, pitting five top-notch 35mm primes against each other: the Zeiss CP.2 35mm T2.1, Canon CN-E 35mm T1.5, Sigma 35mm T1.5 FF, Rokinon Xeen 35mm T1.5 and Schneider Xenon 35mm T2.1.
A team of Google researchers have found that slightly warping watermarks when embedding them into images can help prevent automatic removal.
You don't have to empty your savings account to take your photography to the next level. These cheap buys cost about $50 or less, and come with outsized benefits for your photography.
Joey L, Dani Diamond, Brandon Woelfel and Jessica Kobeissi go head-to-head in an episode of "4 photographers shoot the same model."
The latest flagship phone from Asus combines a 12MP 1/2.55" Sony IMX362 main sensor with a smaller Sony IMX351 chip for 2x zoom and a background-blurring portrait mode.
The company behind popular photo editor Picktorial 3 just released the X-Pack: a preset package that allows you to add Fuji's in-camera film simulation profiles to your RAF files in post.
Photoshop. GoPro. Every once in a while a product emerges that defines a category. And sometimes, it vanishes just as quickly as it arrived on the scene. This week's Throwback Thursday remembers the Flip, the pocket camcorder everyone had – until they didn't.
The Nokia 8's dual-cam combines the image data from a 13MP RGB sensor and a 13 monochrome chip for better detail, improved dynamic range and lower noise levels.
The company behind retail giant B&H Photo has agreed to pay out $3.2 million in monetary relief and back wages to settle a discrimination and harassment case from 2016.
After a popular Facebook teaser and some studio portrait samples, Godox has finally officially released the Godox A1 smartphone flash and flash trigger. Cheap, versatile and innovative, color us intrigued.
Canon’s EOS 5D Mk IV has won the European Imaging and Sound Association’s Professional DSLR of the Year award, making this the third year in a row that the brand has beaten Nikon to the top spot in the professional camera category.
A photograph and quote tweeted out by former president Barack Obama has officially become the most popular tweet of all time, receiving over 1.3 million retweets and 3.4 million likes.
Edward Weston was one of the most influential photographers of the 20th century, and in this episode of Advancing Your Photography we learn the extreme technique he used to capture one of his most famous still life photos.
Instagram just released a small update that will make a huge difference if you're active on the photo sharing app: threaded comment replies.
Venus Optics has announced the price and delivery date of the second lens to join its Zero-D line up: the 15mm F2 for Sony’s E mount. A lens they've dubbed, "the world's fastest 15mm rectilinear lens for full-frame."
Cinnac is a new social network for photographers that will help you separate your good photos from your great ones through a Tinder-like community-based rating system.
The Canon EF 35mm F2 IS USM is an understated jewel of a lens, and one that we've enjoyed on a variety of cameras since its release almost five years ago. Its relatively small size and image stabilization make it a versatile tool for a variety of photography - check out our sample gallery.
You don't need a fancy studio or tons of gear to capture the kind of classic product photography you see in magazines. In this video, Dustin Dolby shows you how to do it with just a couple of speedlights and some know-how.
The life-logging camera is trying to make a comeback. Say hello to FrontRow, a live-streaming enabled life-logging camera from Ubiquiti that hangs on a necklace like a pendant.
When a prospective client approaches you, don't just say "yes" right away. Here's a useful list of questions you should be asking before you decide to take the job and name your price.