I recently put the new PETZVAL lens though its paces for Lomography UK on location in Cumbria.
SHOOTING WITH the PETZVAL Lens
When first asked by Lomography UK if I wanted to use the highly prized Petzval lens, I must admit I first thought that maybe it was not going to be possible to find time or indeed the right subject matter to do the optics justice.
The lens was kindly sent out by Lomography UK to use and when it arrived I must admit it oozed quality. The box embellished with a beautifully toned black and white warm toned image with super gold words “PETVAL” created a feeling of luxury and quality. When I opened up the box I gasped at the collective beautiful packaging the lens was encased in. It was far more superior to the boxes that the standard Nikon lenses arrive in. It comes with a super printed booklet showing its heritage and this itself printed on uncoated paper all combined created a sumptuous look of quality.
I opened up the tissue paper inside of the box and there it was, a beautifully formed brass covered lens just waiting to be used, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this bad boy! and it comes ready in two types and for Nikon or Canon digital cameras.
I used both the Nikon D850 and my super trusty Nikon D800 for its tonality of capture.
HOW IT ALL MAPPED OUT
After a lovely lunch we headed out on a beautiful sunny day into the meadows of Cartmel Cumbria with Casey and the biggest horse I had recently seen. The brief to casey the model was really to walk the horse around and around until I found my bearing with the Petzval lens as i had not used it before. At first I must admit working out the optimal f-stop for the day was a little tricky. (The Petzval lenses use F-stops which are not dialled into the aperture ring on the lens itself but controlled by small black metal plates which all come as part of the package and all have the relevant hole drilled to effectively create your aperture range by allowing only the relevant light for the f-stop ) these are loaded into the lens itself almost like slides.
The book suggests the best f-stop to create the classic Petzval swirl is the F2.2 slide and once loaded the camera controls the speed and iso is controlled manually as the lens is completely manual. A little trial and error in shooting as it was the first time with the lens and it all settled in nicely. I could then concentrate on the manual focus and at creating something which had a nice composition and balance to report back on. Focus is delivered by a small brass dial under the lens which sets your manual focus very easily.
I had planned to use the lens the week previously but the option had vanished, however on my way up to Glasgow for another job I had managed to arrange this shoot in the lakes at a friend of mine who owns 15 Black Horses in Cartmel Cumbria. It turned out that on this day the weather was perfect for the shoot of a lovely lady on horse back. I had decided that to go fully into a fashion shoot with styling and high fashion models at this stage could be too much and was not he way forward and would really could have added too much pressure to the day and thus we created a very relaxed shoot with a minimal team to accomplish some super shots
I am not sure but if you follow me @jamesnader and my tweets but if you do then you will know that I hail from an Analogue background in photography i.e. film and darkroom printing and using this analogue lens was just and addition to a great week where I had forged opportunities with Film giant ILFORD who are now going to supply me with film, processing and exhibition printing for upcoming art projects in New York and so the lens just fit right into the process at hand. At the moment I do have the manual Voigtlander Nokton 25mm F0.95 for some of my work which i shoot on the Panasonic GH2 but after using The Petval lens could easily take its place or be an addition to the kit we use.
WHAT DID WE THINK OF PETZVAL?
I think and so does TeamNader think that this Petzval lens is a super piece of kit, it can really be a super addition to your lens arsenal. Its robust and just says quality, however the best thing about it is exactly what it was designed to do and that is to create super shots utilising the unique Bokeh for which this lens is famed for but in addition it also has a very small depth of field and so your images could be soft very easily so make sure that you focus into the main part of your shot. If your shooting up close to a face then make sure it is the eyes which are in focus and the rest will pop. This shallow depth of field can be a super way of shooting and that coupled with the sharpness of lens, its incredibly simple operation and then this is a lens that really take up residence in your old kit bag!
I would seriously consider one of these lenses and ok, of course shooting fashion for clients it may not be what your after all of the time but certainly editorially if you are shooting anything that just needs something different then this lens would be suitable for not just shooting but possibly for video also. I actually couldn’t shot video as I had forgotten the suitable SD Card for the D800 so cane teal let you know about that. Watch this space though as this would be next on the agenda
Camera: Nikon D3X
Lens: PETZVAL with F2.2
Any Problems: none
Model: Casey B
TeamNader – James & Phil
Styling – Models own
Makeup – Chris
Horses Provided by Black Horses Cumbria