I have never really reviewed anything let alone camera gear. That's why I guess this will be a bit more of a "My experience" rather then a formal review. I want to start off by saying that I have been tremendously lucky to have had some really fantastic opportunities since Secret Garden went viral in February. When the amazing folks at Lomography.com offered me a chance to shoot with the Petzval art lens I was over the moon. I'm going to be honest and tell you something... I had never heard of the lens before that moment. However I was tremendously honored that someone would want to send me gear to try out. I did my research on the lens and grew even more and more excited. My eye definitely caught how beautiful the lens was aesthetically.
About a week later the lens arrived in the post. Just like the pictures I had seen online the lens was an absolute beauty. The gold is really eye catching. As excited as I was to get started I had to wait until my next scheduled shoot. The only project I am working on creatively at the moment is Secret Garden and I didn't have time to plan any shoots in between so I had to be patient before I could try the lens for the very first time.
Finally the secret gardens shoot date approached. Even as I had the lens sitting on my table my team and family were eying the lens and it's beauty. It really is appealing to look at. (haha) I had been given the 85mm 1.2. Because I had some time to think about how I wanted to use the lens I came to the conclusion that I would shoot the grand portrait shot with the Petzval. I always try to have 3-4 final shots when shooting Secret Garden. I aim for a nice up close portrait shot with every concept. Sometimes I choose one, Sometimes other shots are a bit more outstanding. However I really wanted to make sure we got a solid up close shot of Vanessa for her character.
It definitely took me a few minutes to figure the lens out but it's fairly easy and it's quite a comfortable lens to use. It wasn't too heavy either and I am used to shooting with a very heavy camera.
I realized very quickly how artistic of a lens this was. I can honestly say if you are creating a fantasy, dreamy, whimsical or fairytale like portrait series this is the lens for you! There is so much potential with this lens.
The things I absolutely love about this lens are:
1. It's dream like effect... It really gives a dreamy, whimsical effect to your images. For a series like Secret Garden it hits the nail on the head for the type of aesthetic and look I aim for.
2. The Amazing swirly bokeh effect...... When I loaded the images onto my computer I was in awe for a moment. I am not really one to care much about what my bokeh is doing. As long as It has that nice blur look I am generally happy, but my goodness I never knew I could love bokeh so much until this lens.
3. Easy to handle..... It's an easy lens to handle and get the hang of. It's also a bit more fun. Using the little focus turning dial was very interesting. Made me feel a bit more like a scientist or explorer rather then a photographer.
4. The look.... As I mentioned several times before this lens is aesthetically beautiful and would be great in any photographers collection.
I really think this is the type of lens to be used on a special project or a few well thought out and planned images. Imagine shooting a wedding then pulling this baby out for a few special shots. I really think that would make for some very magical images.
I would have loved to have kept the lens for months. I really would love to try it out outside when there are some beautiful flowers in bloom as I think this lens outside would be unstoppable.
In the end I had to decide which would be the shot used for the series. I chose the image of Vanessa holding the book as it just felt so strong. With it's sharpness in the center and beautiful bokeh off to the sides. I had some strong contenders though. I normally don't do this but in this very special case I am going to share a few more images from the shoot that were shot with the petzval.
To sum everything up. This is an artistic photographers dream lens. I'd love to have her in my collection. I'd love to get to shoot with her over the summer as well.! Maybe one day!
Thanks Lomography! (www.lomography.com)
and the chosen image "Garden Story Weaver III"
You can also check out my interview with Lomography! Here: http://www.lomography.com/magazine/310871-daniela-majic-secret-garden-through-the-petzval-lens#likes