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I made a rare impulse buy in the lens department recently and grabbed the new Lomography Petzval Art Lens. This is a fully manual brass lens based on a 1840s design. The look of the images is completely unique, with the sharp center of the image and swirling out of focus backgrounds. Not for everyone I imagine, but as I like to shoot wide open, I thought it was worth exploring.

The lens itself seems incredibly well made. It’s a beautiful ‘thing’, solid brass. For around $500 it seems like a bargain.

The packaging is impressive, they should have moved some of those resources into better design of all the elements IMO. First off, the lens cap is too big and doesn’t stay on. The beautiful leather bag doesn’t really make sense as it isn’t easy to get the lens into, especially in the field. The waterhouse stops are not secure and fall out if you tilt the lens. But, the lens itself is beautiful.

Here are a couple of shots with the lens. Not for everyone perhaps, but it works for my style.

Petzval
lens
Petzval

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As a photographer I have some pet peeves for sure. One of them concerns “portrait” lenses.
For me a portrait lens is a lens I use to take a photo of a person. I have used 15mm and 200mm,  but prefer a couple of focal lengths in between those extremes.
My all time favourite is probably the Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L. This is a perfect focal length for the type of environmental portraiture I do day to day. (That means showing the subject in their environment.) 35mm is just a bit wider then the eye sees, and the 1.4 aperture allows me to really blur the background as is my style (or schtick).
Which brings me to my peeve. In so many of these online photography forums you have people saying that 85mm is “the perfect portrait lens”. Don’t get me wrong, 85mm is one of my other go-to focal lengths, along with the 135mm. But to limit yourself to this kind of thinking hobbles your efforts before you even take a shot.
Don’t worry about what others tell you to use. Use your eyes, then the gear. Don’t worry about these ridiculous camera club rules.
Here are a few samples of my work with the 35L.

Canon 35L

ian taylor bangladesh
Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L

Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L

battambang
Canon 35/1.4

Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L

bangladesh
Canon 35L

Cambodia

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