PETZVAR 105mm F3.2 PL Mount Lens | Swirly Bokeh Monster

A few weeks ago I received an email from Denys Ivanichek, asking for some feedback and suggestions regarding a very interesting lens he has been working on! I’m sure a lot of you heard the name PETZVAL! I learned about such lenses when Lomography created their New Petzval 85 lenses back in 2013, which became a very popular specialty lenses among photographers, but never really took off in video world, because they weren’t really designed to be very video friendly. What Denys has designed is a Petzval lens with professional video/filmmaking in mind! His Petzvar 105mm F3.2 will have an industry standard follow focus gear, 10 blade iris with click-less adjustment, PL mount and even “cine style” lens markings, so pretty much everything you’d find on a proper cine lens!

But what is a PETZVAR lens anyway?

In Denys’s own words:

The Petzvar lens uses a genuine Petzval scheme: two achromatic groups of elements. This classic design has not been redesigned, or improved and it retains the design’s inherent flaws and imperfections – we prefer to call this character. The Petzvar lens was designed primarily as a portraiture lens, but it can be used as a pictorial lens for landscape photography as well, as stopping down reduces the Petzval design’s inherent wide-open characteristics, while increasing contrast and sharpness.

Years ago, when I was building my first lens prototypes, my goal wasn’t to pursue the creation of the sharpest lens ever made. No, I wanted to create a lens completely different from the modern lenses we see from any number of manufacturers today.

I wanted to create a lens that would produce an image resembling the kinds of images we saw in the first years of photographic era. I wanted to produce a lens that would be unique for our time.

By today’s standards, this primitive design can’t compete with or be compared with modern lenses in any respect. It has lots of known optical flaws, which are corrected in the contemporary lens schemes.

But it’s those imperfections which are exactly what makes the Petzvar such a fun lens to use. It creates a feeling completely missing from lenses designed today, it is unpredictable and absolutely bursting with its own character.

Petzval optical design

For me the main appeal of the Petzvar lens is that it’s going to be an absolute swirly bokeh monster, a more extreme version oh Helios 44 or even Helios-40! If you know me, I’m a massive fan of the swirly bokeh, so I genuinely got excited about this lens and if I had some spare cash, I’d be first one in line to order it! Of-course it will not be a lens I’d want use for every project. It will be a very unique, speciality lens that one will use for very creative projects, like music videos and fashion films. In right hands it should be a very creative tool and as importantly, a tool that can be used on professional set without looking and feeling like it will fall apart any second!

Patzvar front part (aluminum body with focusing helicoid and ten leaf iris aperture)
Petzvar Iris

As mentioned by Denys, this optical design comes with loads flaws and imperfections like soft edges, dreamy character, chromatic aberration and low contrast. Petzvar 105mm F3.5 is the third Petzvar lens Denys has designed and the first that will have coating applied to it, which should improve the image quality a little bit, but Denys has assured me that it will only have a slight effect and vintage character is not going anywhere!

Below is a little gallery, showing what we could expect from this lens!

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21s March 2017 Update:

Some people asked to see the test footage shot with this lens, so I offered Denys to shoot some test footage. He provided a prototype sample to try and below is my first quick test to see what kind of images I can get out of it! It’s by no means a sharp lens, in fact it’s quite soft even at F4.5 (download 4K version here) and CA is very obvious too, but like I said already, this lens is definitely not about how “perfect” images captured with it are, but  about its almost “antique” character, which includes unique flares, dreamy look and of course that swirly bokeh, with the benefits of a modern cine lens! The lens itself feels really solid, but not too heavy since there isn’t that much glass inside 🙂 The body is made fully out of metal; aperture and focus rings are smooth and dampened!

Now, why am I sharing this with you guys? I want to make it clear that I will receive no financial or personal benefits by sharing this project with you, other than maybe a personal satisfaction of trying to help an individual achieve his goals and dreams! While I’m currently unable to help this project financially, I hope that spreading the word will help Denys achieve his goal!

If you are a serious cinematographer, looking to add something unusual to your lens arsenal, I highly recommend checking Denys’s project out on Kickstarter!


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