This post will share all the photos I shot with Petzval lens.
If you are looking for the Petzval lens open box, hand on or first impression review, you can visit my 2 earlier posts below:
Petzval portrait lens is a 85mm lens and classically know as focal lens suitable for portrait shot.
First and foremost, yes, it is a full manual focus, and also aperture control lens. Furthermore, the manual focus is a challenging experience. The challenges mainly come from few reasons below:
- the depth of field for Petzval lens is shadow – for sure you can choose to use a larger aperture number plate to improve this,
- the focus minimum focus distance 1 meter, which means you need stand a distance away from your subject,
- the focus movement for the barrel on lens was short, it takes about one turn screw knob to finish from 1 meter to infinity focus distance.
However, the large headed screw focus knob was well machined. It was large enough with plenty of rough vertical lines for better grip. Once you stop and let go the focusing knob, it hardly wriggle. The build in mechanism have enough resistance to prevent to lens element from moving, even at a tiled angle.
This might be the time where focus peaking comes useful in this situation. Unfortunately my Nikon D600 doesn’t have this feature build-in. I don’t have Nikon to Sony NEX mount converter to use on Sony NEX as well. So, can’t comment on this until I tested it out.
Metering or Exposure Control
Next, how you get the correct exposure with this manual lens? Simple, just try and try and keep trying 😀
Well, you can use the in-camera light meter on the camera to assist you on this. Just tune the shutter dial until the EV = 0. Increase or decrease the ISO if necessary.
If you are a more ‘pro’ photographer, you can even turn on the live view and use the histrogram (e.g. Sony NEX live view comes with ‘live’ histogram view).
Depth of Field (DOF)
If you intend to get a sharper photo, I would suggest you use aperture plate f/4 and above. Focusing with f/2.2 or f/2.8 or even without waterhouse plate is really challenging. You could miss the focus with little displacement. Or you can mount your camera on tripod to increase your chances.
I would say, over 70% of the times, I will miss if using shadow DoF aperture plate, especially with handheld.
In order to obtain the sharpest image from this lens, remember to place your subject in the center. The image will get soft very quick when moving to the corners, especially using a wide opening aperture plate.
The Waterhouse Aperture Plates
The waterhouse aperture plates are loosen parts. Which means it tend to get lost across time. Some clamp it with clip hook. Mine still here and there as I am yet to find a better solution.
Another cons about these plates, they are not tight when fit into the lens barrel. It might fall off if you turn the lens more than 90 degree. It did fall off from the lens a few times when I did not keep the lens in proper comportment inside the camera bag during travel.
For all the photos below, if I did not mention the aperture plate number, that means I have forgotten. As this is REAL full manual lens, aperture number is not recorded electronically to the EXIF. However, it should be around these 3 aperture values: no plate inserted, f/2.2 or f/2.8, unless otherwise stated.
How to get the swirly or circular bokeh with Petzval?
To get started, here are the first few photos that I managed to get the swirly or circular bokeh result.
I believe the trick, as any other normal wide aperture lens, to get bokeh is to have the background a distance away from your subject.
Next, you need to find a background that is high in texture and contrast, both in colors and brightness. For example, bushes, high dense leaves or forest, better still if there is light shinning through the bushes from the back.