So I read about this lens. I watched videos about this lens and thought, "Hey, that looks pretty cool." With a price tag of $600 it was hard to pull the trigger on a manual focus lens that is kind of a one trick pony.
For me, anytime I spend more than $500 on a lens that's starting to get closer to the pro level line of lenses. I have many lenses in my lineup that are in the thousands of dollars. But they all autofocus and are very sharp. Two things the Petzval lens doesn't do particularly well.
So I happened into a local camera store a few weeks back and while just looking around, I saw a Petzval lens for Canon mount sitting in the display. Being a Sony shooter makes it easy for me to shoot any lens mount with the wide array of adapters. I regularly use the Metabones Mark 4 Adapter on my Sony A7Rii and had it handy when I was at the store. So I put the Petzval on the adapter with the camera and started firing away.
I was impressed enough to give it a try knowing in the right circumstance it would give my pictures a very distinctive and unique look. So I bought it, put it in my camera bag and a few weeks later I found myself in San Francisco and took it out for a quick shoot as part of my Gear I Use video series where I demonstrate the gear that I use for my own work.
The pics and corresponding video from that shoot are shown below. Initial thoughts on the lens:
*Easy to use- with the focus peaking turned on in my camera finding focus is pretty easy. The focus knob is on the side of the lens which is a new thing for me and many photographers, but its very easy to use and has a good resistance. Not too much, not too little.
*Very unique look- it definitely delivers on the promise of swirly bokeh. If you're looking for a lens that turns your images into something that not many people see nowadays, this could be your answer.
*Sharpness- It isn't the sharpest lens out there, especially wide open. I very regularly shoot wide aperture lenses wide open. Some of my favorite lenses are the Canon 85mm f/1.2, Sony G Master f/1.8, Canon L lens 200mm f/1.8 and more. These lenses are all sharper than the Petzval at their widest aperture which is saying something considering the Petzval is a f/2.2 compared the the other lenses mentioned.
*Aperture Blades Fall out- this is a BIG bummer for me. The aperture blades do not securely lock into the lens. If you haven't watched the video and you're wondering what I'm talking about, WATCH THE VIDEO. The blades are placed on top of the lens with an opening. It's very easy to do, but if you turn your camera from a horizontal position they fall out. If you are used to moving around with your camera and lens like I am, that's a problem as you'll see in the video. We are very lucky to have found the aperture blade that fell out!
*Lens Cap- the lens cap also comes off very easily and there's no off market replacement available. So if you lose it, good luck.
So if you have extra funds and you're looking for a lens that will give you a really distinctive look, this definitely delivers. Don't rely on it for super sharp images, especially wide open. But in the right circumstance it can be a real winner of a lens. But as I always say, take a look for yourself and just decide what works best for you!!