Lomography Petzval 85mm lens review

Craig C. Houdeshell reviews the Lomography Petzval 85mm lens on Nikon cameras (the lens is no longer available on Kickstarter, but Lomography is already taking pre-orders on their website - the different versions can be found here): 

Discussion of the Petzval Lens 

The Petzval lens is a very old design going back to the beginning of photography. Petzval worked for Chevalier Lens Makers making lenses, improved upon and simplified the design. He eventually struck out on his own as a lens maker. Large format photographers seek out and treasure the original Petzval lens.

In 2012, Lomography decided to work on a design of the Petzval lens design for contemporary cameras, more specifically for Canon and Nikon 35mm mounts. In 2013, Lomography was closing in on the final design with the history Zenit lens company in Russia and started a Kickstarter campaign to fund the start-up of lens construction.

Somehow I stumbled on the Kickstarter page and was definitely intrigued with the characteristic look the lens offered because I had been looking to return to the shallow depth of focus, old time look of the 1800s portraits without the hassle of wet plate colloidal, or ambrose-type techniques. While I do want to experiment with large format photography especially wet plate photography at some point, that discussion is for another day.

I casually mentioned a strong desire for the lens being offered by Lomography to my significant other, Jennifer. I then promptly forgot about it because financial times were hard at our house with three in college and we are still recovering from the economic downturn. Much to my surprise, a few weeks later Jennifer offered me an envelope for my birthday. I laid it on the table because we were at dinner with other people. She was insistent that I open the envelope – rarely is she like this. She is usually very low key. On opening the card in the envelope out fell a slip of paper which was the receipt for a place in the que for the Kickstarter Lomography Petzval lens campaign. WOW! What a surprise and a nice gift. Well, that was July. The promise was for the company to supply a lens in February 2014, so the waiting began.

Once I was in the que, Lomography really made me feel like part of the family. There were constant updates about the lens design, meeting with the manufacturer in Russia, how the campaign was going, etc.

Once the campaign “went over the wall” and was funded, it got really exciting. Clearly there was pent-up demand for such a lens because with an initial goal of $100,000 the project was funded in excess of $1,300,000. Yes, you are reading this numbers correctly. Each time a new goal was set and reached Lomography put another little gift or perk in the packages of the early adopters, of which I was one.


The lens as delivered in its packaging


The Lomography 85mm lens on a Nikon D7000

When the lens arrived on December 27th, about seven weeks ahead of the promise, there were lots of extras in the box. The final package included: 

  1. The lens
  2. Two body caps
  3. Six aperture plates
  4. A book about the lens and tips.
  5. A cloth lens bag
  6. A Lomography tote bag.

Getting in on the funding campaign let Jennifer pay $400 for the lens. Today, the lens is $599.

The Lens in Use 

This cannot be said loudly enough, the lens is fully manual and has no electrical communication with the body. I say this to be clear. I know with that statement I just lost fifty percent or more of the readers. If that is true, that is fine because they know the lens isn’t for them.

The brass lens barrel is beautiful. There I said it. Yes, it is beautiful. It isn’t lacquered so I am sure it will tarnish nicely, as it ages, like my old trumpet I use to blow back in the day. The lens bayonet is well machined with no slop on any of the following Nikon bodies: a D610, a D7000, a D90 and an N60. It is nice the designer and maker took time and care on this point. On the lens bayonet there is a little red alignment dot, so no one should get lens mounting wrong.

The focus adjustment knob is well machined with just the slightest wriggle in the gears that focus the lens. The lens is so manual that you select an aperture plate from the provided collection and slide it into a slot on the top of the lens body. The aperture plates go from f/2.2 to f/16.

As you would expect there are two methods of getting a correct exposure on a DSLR body. You can use a light meter or chimp, looking at the histogram and snapping images until you are satisfied with the exposure. On a film body, dig out a light meter.

One other idea I tried was using the light meter in both the DSLR bodies and the film body with an electrically connected lens. That did not work out well. I am still scratching my head why it did not work. I thought I could cheat by figuring exposure with a contemporary lens (after choosing the correct lens aperture) then swap lenses, but that idea was a no go.

The lens is 85 millimeters so it is what is classically known as a portrait lens. I would like to see Lomography manufacture a 50mm lens too. I am hopeful they do.

In practice, the lens performs best with a tripod mounted camera. I as something of a shallow DOF freak, which is why I bought the lens, for shallow depth portraits. Thus most of the examples I provide with this writing are at f/2.2 and f/4, with a couple at f/8 all tripod mounted which made holding focus at these shallow depths of field easier. At those shallow depths of field, focus is tricky and I missed focus a bunch of times. Perhaps if the lens had a finer focusing screw hitting focus on the eyes say, would be a simpler task. If my technique were more refined, which I am committed to doing, I would be undoubtedly happier. The photos I show of our old rescue Greyhound, Diana, were shot handheld so it can be done.

The swirling bokeh characteristic of Petzval lens is present in all camera formats (Film, Full Frame and Crop-sensor) is a very unique swirly pattern. That will make those of you with only crop-sensor equipment happy. Bright lights (see the photo with the Christmas Tree) demonstrate an bokeh feature of a shape between a football and a sphere. Some people will like it some will not.

The lens really comes into its own on full frame 35mm equipment, either digital or film, of course. That is when it is possible to take advantage of full effect of the shallow DOF, but that is true of any lens. Perhaps it is just me but I found the out of focus areas more pleasant on film. I know I will be using film more with this lens.


  1. The lens is well constructed and should last a lifetime in all its (future) tarnished best.
  2. The fit and finish, including the bayonet mount and mechanical parts is quite good.
  3. The brass lens cap and plastic bayonet cap fit well.
  4. The aperture plates are a loose collection and therefore susceptible to getting lost, so you will need some arrangement to keep them together and with the lens body. I am using a ziplock bag jammed down in the lens case, but I plan on finding something better.
  5. The lens seems to have a magenta cast. Some would argue this is a lens failing, but knowing it is there can be planned for in post proceeding of electronic files. However, that does leave an issue for color film users.
  6. The lens is a little finicky to focus, but to be fair I have never used a Petzval style lens before and learning good (better) technique is something I am committed to doing for my craft and art.
  7. At this point without more testing (which I plan to do) and refinement of technique I will call the lens a bit “soft” The center can be sharp when I do my part, but sharpness falls off quickly as you move from the center of the lens. That is a characteristic of the lens design. You either like it or you do not.
  8. Of course the 85mm focal length is a perfect portrait length, but with the success of the maker’s project I hope they can see their way to making a 50mm lens too.
  9. If you focus on still life, botanicals, portraits or fine art photography and you want to separate yourself from others with a different in camera look you should pick yourself up one of these lenses. But be warned, there is a learning curve.

Nikon D90/Petzval 85mm @ f/2.2

The reason to show this photo is to demonstrate the “circular” bokeh with the Christmas lights. The focus is on the stamens in the left front flower. If you zoom in you can see the petals on the two outside flowers have already fallen out of focus. 


Nikon D610/ Petzval 85mm @ f/2.2

I wanted to show the characteristic swirling bokeh, of the lens. Focus in on Gumby’s nose. Gumby’s right arm is about an inch and a quarter in front of the body. You can see Gumby’s right hand is out of focus. The background is about 2.5 feet behind Gumby.


Nikon N60/Kodak BW400CN/Petzval 85mm @ f/4

The focus in on Diana’s right eye. Her right paw is about two inches or a little more behind her eye and is out of focus. 


Nikon N60/ Fuji X-tra 400/Petzval 85mm @ f/4

Focus is on Dian’s eye. Her neck and collar are nicely out of focus as is the fabric on the chair she is in.


Nikon D610/Desat 95-percent in Topaz Labs B&W Adjust/Petzval 85mm @ f/2.2

Photo was shot from about 6 feet in front of Jennifer and the background is about three feet behind her.


Nikon D610/Desat 95-percent in Topaz Labs B&W Adjust/Petzval 85mm @ f/8

Photo was shot from about 6 feet in front of Jennifer and the background is about three feet behind her.

Note the changes in the hair, scarf and background from the previous photo. I consider the lens to lose its unique characteristics at aperture diameters smaller than f/8.


Nikon D7000/Petzval 85mm @ f/2.2

Photo was shot from about 9 feet in front of Jennifer and the background is about three feet behind her.The out of focus portions of the scarf are is about two inches in front of her chin.


Nikon D7000/Petzval 85mm @ f/8

Photo was shot from about 9 feet in front of Jennifer and the background is about three feet behind her.

The out of focus portions of the scarf are is about two inches in front of her chin.

I am happy to hear your comments. If you have questions or want to express other thoughts I provide an email address below. I also provide links to my web page and Lomography’s web page:

If you have an interesting idea for a guest post, you can contact me here.

This entry was posted in Nikon Lenses, [NR] Reviews and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Trackbacks are closed, but you can post a comment.
  • djm

    I’m looking forward to the 120mm f/3.8 medium format Petzval kickstarter: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1162663202/the-petzvar-f-38-120-mm-medium-format-petzval-port (I’m a backer)

    • waterengineer

      Me too. I am a backer of the MF kickstarter lens.

    • bling!

      This lens beckons with two words: rob me!

  • scott800

    I want to like this lens, but i have not yet seen any photos taken with it that I love. I would love to see some video projects created with this lens.

    • waterengineer

      Scott, I am shooting a short video with the lens. Many people have been asking. I will figure out a way to post. Perhaps on the Forum portion of the site. The video will be done in a week or so. I shot a bunch of footage over the weekend.

      • Global
      • scott800

        can’t wait to see the video, really would like to have this type of lens good wide open.

      • Spy Black

        I was thinking as I viewed these shots that f/4 seemed as though it would offer a better combination of focused quality versus background blur. I’m not enamored by this lens design, while it’s an interesting optic it’s completely overpriced for what it is. This is especially so if you consider how limited the use of this lens is.

    • Global

      Ask and ye shall receive, Scott! Videos, ahoy:


      I don’t like this lens, honestly (for the price & zero electronics). But I love that it offers a difference for consumers. I don’t know how it got $1.3M worth of interest, but OK, to each their own.

      If this was $200, it would be more appetizing. At $600 ($700 for the black version) and $1.3M startup there should be basic electronics or a chip offered at least. (Is that expecting too much?)

      • waterengineer

        Global, I understand your point(s), and as you say to each their own. I think it is about the look of the image – you either like it or you don’t. As for the electronics, I am with you. I didn’t understand why it wasn’t chip enabled given that Roken lenses are so inexpensive and electronically coupled, to a point. However, I guess it didn’t bother me too much as I am old and have used plenty of manual focus, non-electronic lenses……

      • scott800

        thanks for the link! i missed this microsite. would still like to see some video with review and comparison to other lens types.

      • neversink

        This lens is a one trick pony. After a while, this lens will be a bore.
        I agree with you, Global, and feel one would have a much more versatile lens using any of the following:
        58mm F/1.4
        85mm f/1.4
        135mm f2.0 DC
        I also fear a lot of QC issues for this overpriced glass. I’d rather take an old manual lens and some screwdrivers and change the elements around a bit. I think you would get much more interesting results, though the brass is pretty.

  • jec6613

    It was said that the meter wouldn’t function, but if you put the lens data into a non-CPU bank on a Nikon, it should meter about anything (my D7100 will meter with nothing on the mount at all). Am I missing something that prevents this from metering, at least on the Nikon bodies?

    • waterengineer

      I think perhaps you misunderstood. My point was the meter reading moving from a zoom lens at 85mm then using the Petzval lens did not meter correctly. I think it is because the Petzval lens soaks up more light. I have used the lens a bunch more since writing this article a month ago. and I now have a much better workflow.

      • jec6613

        That makes more sense. Yeah, I’d be interested to see what the f-stops are when translated to t-stops (which would be necessary to match exposure). Still, with the higher end bodies, the in-camera meters still work, then. 🙂

      • Your metering problems seem odd to me. I’ve got a Lens Baby Composer (drop in aperture plates, no electronics) and it meters perfectly for me on a D7000 out of the box.

      • neversink

        I lost you here.
        What do you mean the Petzval lens soaks up more light??? I don’t get that at all. Please explain.
        Either the meter is reading the amount of light that will hit the film plane or digital sensor correctly or it isn’t.
        Please explain your new laws of physics. How can the lens soak up more light. You might win a Nobel Prize!!!!

        • waterengineer

          The camera doesn’t meter. I put on an electronically coupled lens to get the meter reading, swap lenses then dial in the exposure registered with the electronically coupled lens. Experimentation shows the Petzval lens needs more light that the other lens, thus the Petzval lens “soaks up” light when compared to the other lens.

          • neversink

            OK… Now I understand what you meant… But you don’t get the Nobel Prize. Sorry. 😉

  • C-3PO

    Now I know what happened to the parts I’m missing.

    • R2D2

      You mindless philosopher!

  • RandomDesign

    Interesting. I see you didn’t mention any problems with the aperture plates, whereas most other owners (including myself) have problems with plates that are either too loose and fall out or too tight and are scraping off paint every time you insert/remove them. Are you not having these issues with your plates?

    • waterengineer

      Correct, I am having no issues with the plate. I also have read others are having issues. I am sorry to read you are one of them. Seems like a quality control issue to work out. Of course another matter is carrying them.

    • Spy Black

      Considering the cost of this lens, QC should be much higher, but it appears profits are simply being pocketed here and the lens construction is being done by underpaid, vodka-hung-over workers with not much desire or capacity for QC.

  • gimar bazat

    so what is the purpose of this lens?

    • interesting/different bokeh

      • Johnny Dough

        I’d call it ‘busy’ before I called it ‘interesting’ or ‘different’

        • You’re busy.

          • bonnie schmo

            actually you are busy

      • neversink

        The only interesting thing that this lens offers, I feel, is the brass housing. Otherwise, PT Barnum could have made this lens. The profits are rolling in!!!!!!!!!

    • photoroto

      To save you from having to stack up two shots in Photoshop and using Radial Blur on the top one, with the center masked out.

      • gimar bazat

        Thanks for your reply. I think I still like better my 85 1.8G

        • neversink

          Still like my 85 1.4 better than the 1.8 – Incredible creamy bokeh on the 1.4, —- although the 1.8 is no slouch, the 1.4 is so much better.

      • Spy Black

        Much cheaper to do it in Photoshop, and you can radial blur it in either direction to boot…

        • Jo

          You might prefer to dick around in Photoshop. I’d rather just shoot the photos and have it that way.

        • BernhardAS

          You have no clue!
          I challenge you to actually post a single picture here where it is not obvious that it is ps.
          Radial blur looks very different from swirly bokeh.

          • Spy Black

            It was a joke dude.

  • Bryan

    I have this lens. Still working on a review that I will post on my blog.

    So far it’s a crapshoot. My lens is poorly machined and takes serious effort to get onto the camera, because the mount isn’t quite right. Further, the hood is made out of such thin junk metal I can bend it with even gentle pressure.

    The 58mm “filter thread” is stupid – it’s on the lens assembly inside the hood, so you can’t use step-up rings at all. So if you have a gaggle of 52mm or 62mm or 67mm filters, all standard sizes for Nikon – you’re screwed, gotta get 58mm ones now.

    Image quality…well it’s not a sharp lens, duh, it wasn’t meant to be. But focusing with such a short throw is a total toss-up, even using a Katzeye screen on my D800. Even using the f/8 plate the bokeh is pretty wild (good!) but the center never really sharpens up. It doesn’t look like a petzval on 4×5, but it’s certainly different.

    I think the price, both the $599 list and $350 I paid as an early backer, is higher than the value offered by the lens. This lens should be $299 list and Kickstarted at $150-$200. But that’s just my opinion.

    For the record I tried it on my D800 and my F2. The F2 meters automatically in “stop-down” metering mode so it’s all auto, which is nice – but for some reason the lens seemed to get more light than the meter read. Every shot was overexposed by a stop or so. Other lenses didn’t exhibit this. Strange, but not a big deal.

    • waterengineer

      Interesting because I have the opposite issue. a darker image than metered. On my N60 is seems to be about 1/2 a stop and on my digital cameras more like 1-1.2 stops. I probably wouldn’t have gone for the lens at $600+, but it was a gift, a very nice gift from my artist wife. She got in early, as I said in the article, I think she was in for $400.

      • Bryan

        Do you know what kind of meter that N60 has? I’m thinking the center-weighted meter of the F2 might be an important consideration regarding this issue.

        • jec6613

          The N60 has a six segment 3D Matrix meter in P, A and S modes, and a CW in M. However, it needs a CPU lens to meter at all, as it lacks and AI feeler.

    • Thanks for your feedback.

    • Thanks for your feedback.

    • bringamagnet

      Off topic, but Katzeye makes a screen for the D800?

      • Bryan

        They did. Not anymore. I found a NOS one for under $30!

        • Spy Black

          When did KatzEye ever make a screen for the D800? You sure you didn’t mean the D700?

          • Bryan

            I don’t know, look it up yourself. I have it though and it works beautifully. It’s a microprism spot screen.

            • Spy Black

              Never seen a D800 screen on KatzEye, only D700, which is a split-image screen. Where did you find the D800 screen? That should also fit the D4 and D600/610.

    • Toxicity

      That junk metal is called lead.

      • vriesk

        Why on earth would you make lens hood out of lead??

    • BernhardAS

      If the lens is not sharp at 8 in the center I would send it back. Sounds like something is wrong with it. QC seems not to be the strong side of Zenit so it can not be ruled out that there is a manufacturing defect.

    • Spy Black

      I think you, like all who have fallen for this lens, are being suckered by the manufacturer/distributor into thinking this would be some well-made product. Looks like those at the top are simply pocketing the money and building it with the cheapest labor they could find in Russia, not too difficult to do these days.

      • Bryan

        I don’t think that’s necessarily true. The lens, regardless of the small mechanical foibles, is definitely interesting and unique.

        I was told on several occasions that I should just get “an original Petzval” from 100+ years ago. These are of course of a longer focal length to cover larger film, so is of less use to modern uses on a 35mm-sized sensor, AND would cost several bills, before you got into the custom work to have a mount made and proper infinity focus, etc.

        Not to mention – I’ve seen the results from some of these chop-jobs and they aren’t any better (usually worse!) than this Petzval in terms of image quality.

        I can live with cheap thin metal and a stupid filter ring design, but you are right to the extent that I think the lens is a bit overpriced.

        • neversink

          What do you mean? You are willing to forgive this company’s lens some “small mechanical foibles,” as you put it, but are over critical of some of Nikon’s most incredible lenses.
          Personally, from what I have seen, the image quality is poor and the QC problems are intrinsically inherent in this lens.
          I find nothing interesting and unique about this lens, except for the apparent poor quality. But if you are willing to except these “small mechanical foibles,” go ahead and lay your money down.

          • Bryan

            Where was I critical of Nikon lenses?! Don’t put words in my mouth.

            Second, there is a big difference between poor QC with regard to build quality, and poor QC of optical elements. When I say small mechanical foibles, I’m talking about the thin metal used for the hood and such. That affects nothing, when it comes down to the image.

            Let’s not forget though that every company can have QC issues. D600? D800 focus? Yeah, exactly.

            “You” find nothing unique about this lens? Who cares what you think about it? Are you one of the pixel-peepers that only cares if you have ultimate sharpness? With everyone and their mom a “pro photographer” after buying a D3000, it’s important sometimes to look for products that give you a different look. The lens isn’t a sharp lens, and it’s not designed to be. But that doesn’t mean its unique look can not be used for creative effect.

            • neversink

              Nope, not a pixel peeper. I’ve been in this photo business since the mid 1970s and I have seen a lot of hype. I reluctantly switched from film to digital in 2009, after the stock market crash. But my clients demanded it. I love digital now, although I miss using film.
              This lens sounds like hype to me. I have a number of medium format and large format lenses that are not as “sharp” as these Nikon lenses, but their QC is incomparably good. There have been a number of complaints about this Petzval lens.
              I agree about the D600 oil issue, although I don’t own a D600. I was lucky enough not to have the left side focal point issue on my D800.
              I’m sorry about stating that you were critical of Nikon’s lenses. i got you mixed up with someone else here. My apologies.

      • BernhardAS

        Hello?? Wake up, it is 2014!!!!
        Any Industry where that is not the case?
        Did you realize that in the meantime China becomes “too expensive” for some Ferrari/Bentley owners?

        • Spy Black

          No, not everyone is a greed-driven dick. Some companies actually like to make a quality product.

          • BernhardAS

            Qoute: No, not everyone is a greed-driven dick.
            Well we also might have tom and harry

      • neversink

        Unfortunately, I feel you are correct. They raised a lot of moolah on the web. Probably pocketed most of it, and now have put out a lens with questionable QC issues. An expensive paper weight.

    • neversink

      It could be your meter. The F2 meter was very finicky. I have four F2 bodies and all the meters read light differently. Of course I banged them around quite a bit. I don’t shoot with them anymore, but I should. Even when metering an 18 percent grey card. I use two old Minolta ivF meters when testing on film cameras and I meter both incident and reflect lights (with a 5 degree spot attachment) or I just use the meter on my D4 or D800 and use the settings for the film camera. I love my old Minolta light meters. But even with readings, you still have to adjust what the meter reads depending on the type and quality of light and the subject matter.

      • Bryan

        Possibly, but it works fine with other lenses. Mine is finicky in low-light, but my tests were outdoors

  • rafakoy

    Beautiful lens! but if you want swirl bokeh, you don’t need to spend $600. Most basic 3-elements lenses produce the same effect. You can buy an Helios 58mm f/2 lens (just to name one) for around $50 on eBay plus an adapter for whatever mount you are using, and it comes with a standard aperture ring.
    Check some images here:

    The Minolta Rookor 50mm f/1.7 MD lens can also produce the same effect, and I know there are many more. Those are all manual focus lenses.

    • Jo

      Neither of those work on Nikon cameras without adapters with glass due to FFD issues, so they won’t look good anyway.

      • rafakoy

        Some adapters let you do this without an extra glass, you just can’t focus to infinite. Since the whole point of buying a lens like this is to get that swirl bokeh, you are likely taking pictures wide open at close distances, thus, it’s not a problem.

        • paintitwhite

          I have two Helios 58mm f/2 lenses with infinity focus modification by Dog Schidt Optiks. Certainly interesting lenses when you want to get a bit of character. Might interest you: http://dogschidtoptiks.co.uk/

          • rafakoy

            That’s great, didn’t know about that.

          • Jo

            Dog Shit Optics? Really?
            Regardless of the quality, that’s just a terrible name.

  • Rhonbo

    I don’t see the appeal of this type of bokeh and it sounds like focusing is a pain.

    • Johnny Dough

      +1 – I guess if we don’t ‘get it’ it’s not for us

      • k

        and those that get it are boring and misguided..just like us…

  • Art

    I’d just like to say that you have excellent taste in dogs. Whippets are awesome pets! I’m looking at mine right now. 😉

    • neversink

      So you are saying this lens is for the dogs???? Speaking of WhipIts – check this out… Not sure what lens this was shot with??

      • neversink

        PS – Never really cared for this type of music, but I think this lens is for the Dogs and obviously it is not for me. The Nikon 85mm f 1.4 or th 135mm f/2.0 DC lens have much nicer bokeh and are much more versatile lenses…..
        But it would look nice in a showcase. Great conversation piece, just not a great lens.

    • i


  • Toxicity

    Be careful of the dangers of lead in brass!

  • rt-photography

    Cute lens. but from what I see the bokeh which is the feature is a hindrance. its very annoying and seems to distract my eyes from the subject. not to mention it makes me a little dizzy looking at the pictures. as if its moving. those bokeh objects take attention away from the subject. nice gimmick. I have a lot of other great things I could buy with $600 though.

  • vwking

    Awesome!! Thanks for the review. Waiting for mine to deliver.

    • BernhardAS


  • peterw

    Interesting article. Looks like it is a joy to you. Thanks for posting.

    To me… it feels a bit like looking for trouble the easy way. Like daily shaving your three days beard with an expensive trimmer set, in stead of taking a three day hike, which indeed grows a three days beard and makes your mind free.

    Why not look for a real historic lens on film, why not create your own photoshop filters, why not make your own lenses and filters on half the budget? You can have one of the six million Canon AE-1 with a large amount of FD lenses a set of screwdrivers a metal saw, filters and vaseline or whatever and do your thing yourself create your own joy and filters.

  • Dd

    Judging from the picture when the lens is mounted on the camera I am pretty sure it is a Nikon test camera. Any info about this rumour?

  • Dd

    I wonder if owners of this lens feel compelled to dress up as a pirate at they use it?

  • We

    “This cannot be said loudly enough, the lens is fully manual and has no electrical communication with the body. I say this to be clear. I know with that statement I just lost fifty percent or more of the readers. If that is true, that is fine because they know the lens isn’t for them”

    Actually it is the price, IQ and how ugly the thing is that disqualifies the lens for me.

  • Kynikos

    This is the most useful field review I’ve read of any lens in a very long time. The descriptions and images are well thought out and exceptionally instructive. Thank you so very much for writing it.

    I understand it’s speculation at this point, but do you have an opinion of how well it is sealed? Many Russians I know (not only my in-laws) knock Zenit lenses for dust and fungus.

  • whisky

    thanks for the review. this looks like a fine novelty lens for $600.

  • Maji

    count me in the “dislike” category for this lens.

  • MB

    What we have here is lousy, soft overpriced lens with hysterical bokeh and replaceable aperture.

    • whisky

      did i just hear you say “lens baby”? 🙂

    • BigEater

      Hysterical bokeh! That’s what my photos have been missing all these years. Thanks!

      • MB

        You should have tried Helios 40, f1.5 /85mm bokeh monster lens, long time ago then!

  • Neopulse

    That bokeh swirl kinda caught me off guard. As if I was looking at a vortex of sorts @_@

  • Grev

    Not worth it, rather stick with all of my Russian lenses.

  • khj

    I am being 100% serious. I got very similar IQ with an old Zeiss P6 lens mounted to my Nikon via an Adapter. Cost me $150 in the end and while it didn’t have the pirate look it had cool retro appeal along with handicapped technology. If this type of IQ excites you then this may be a more economic option.

  • VT

    I don’t really see the petzval effect as seen in old LF photos. Just a tiny bit of swirl in the bokeh, but I have regular lenses that do the same while not even designed to do it. I had high hopes, but it’s a bummer to see the end results.

  • Ranier Wolfcastle

    The same old dill-holes that troll this site ALWAYS have the same response to anything that’s different. “It’s ugly, it’s stupid, I hate the bokeh, you’re stupid if you bought this, it’s a waste of money…”

    You people are so predictable. As long as you get your boring bokeh that looks just like the millions of crappy shallow DoF shots all over Flickr you’re happy. You’re all pixel peepers looking for perfection so you can all take the same boring photos and then pat each other on the back while oohing and ahhing over the sharpness and smooth bokeh.

    This place is like a black hole that sucks in soulless camera owners with no artistic vision or creativity. What I picture in my mind when I think of the regular denizens that post here is a bunch of Kirk VanHouten’s sitting alone in their bachelor pads pathetically poring over MTF charts and trying to think up witty rejoinders to impress the rest of their sad sack Nikon Rumors pals.

    • neversink

      Then go away…. If you can’t add anything to the discussion… There are a lot of different opinions on this site, some very good discussions… There are also the whiners and the one’s who still want a D400 and will always scream about it….
      Perhaps you would ilk to program everyone’s brain here into thinking just like you….
      This site is entertainment…. But there are great guest threads here….
      I don’t think everyone here is a pixel peeper…. It’s so easy to condemn others…
      I don’t happen to like this lens, nor do I think it’s unique… It appears to me to be overpriced ad hype….The old Zeiss lenses on my Exacta vxiia from the early 1950s can be made to do the same thing, with much better IQ…. So can a lot of other lenses…. Take a screwdriver to an old lens and remove an element and you might create something totally different.
      Have a good day and a good life, and take a chill pill!!!!!!
      Peace out!!!!!

      • Ranier Wolfcastle

        “This site is entertainment”

        Yeah, if by entertainment you mean a bunch of shitheads hating on everything.

        And I AM adding something to the discussion I’m pointing out the fact that most of the d-bags that are habitual posters on NR (including YOU) are narrow-minded morons that want everything to fit into their little idea of “perfect” and they can’t even decide what their idea of perfect is.

        I don’t want to program everyone’s brain to think like mine. Just about everyone on this forum has their brain pre-programmed to boring and “normal”. Open up your puny little minds and maybe you’ll start making good pictures instead of sitting in front of your computers all day making fun of people because they choose to take a unique approach to their photography or buy a camera that you don’t like.

        If you think it’s overpriced. Don’t fuckin’ buy it. If you don’t like the way it renders. Don’t fuckin’ buy it. If you think it’s ugly. Don’t. Fuckin’. Buy. It.

        Your stupid opinions don’t really matter. Do you think that someone who bought this lens is going to say “well, goddamn, some asshole on the fucking rumors forum said my lens sucks. I guess I’ll send it back?” I doubt it.

        It would be refreshing to see some constructive or positive talk around here instead of people spewing vitriol about CAMERA GEAR that they don’t even OWN.

  • B.L.Molnar

    forgot to mention;Joseph Petzval
    Joseph Petzval was a mathematician, inventor, and physicist best known for his work in optics. He was born in the town of Zipser Bela in the Kingdom of Hungary. Petzval studied and later lectured at the Institutum Geometricum in Buda.Wikipedia
    Born: January 6, 1807, Kingdom of Hungary
    Died: September 19, 1891, Vienna, Austria
    Education: Eötvös Loránd University

  • Paige

    Really informative and even-handed. Thank you!

  • Mako
  • Serge S Frolov

    Tested it last week, if I had cash to burn I would buy one just for its heritage and looks. There is no denying that it is a luxurious toy lens that can give amazing results if used right, and that is the key. But for a toy, it is heavy and expensive.

  • a couple big issues with this lens… can’t record video on the nikon d4 nor d750, nor the d810. can record video with the d800 but the camera won’t let you format while the lens is attached… can’t format with any of the other above mentioned cameras either… brought this to the photo store to see if it was just one lens, tried all of their lenses on a bunch of their nikon bodies. same issue.

  • very good review and comparing with examples petzval with helios and all Nikon lenses http://blog.andreart.lv/raksti/85mm_un_boke.php

  • Timothy Douglass

    I’m having a hard time getting my D750 to allow me to shoot video with this lens. Is there some obvious thing I’m missing?

  • Back to top