Unusual Lens, Unusual Business

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Jan 25, 2009
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Looks interesting! I've been adapting older portrait lenses to my full frame digital (D4) in an attempt to recreate the older “look”.

The problem is that these older lenses were designed for a larger format (like 6x9cm) and the 35mm format takes only the better corrected center area of the lens, which gives a better image that I wanted. Also, these older lenses usually have smaller apertures than I want, most in the f3.5 to f4.5 range.

This The Lomography Petzval Portrait Lens appears to have all the traits I’m looking for… an f2.2 aperture and perfectly round Waterhouse stops. It doesn’t look very convenient to use (rack and pinion focusing?), but it may be just the ticket.

I’ll be waiting for some reviews!
 
Joined
Jul 21, 2007
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It's a bit expensive for a lens that consists of four very simple elements. And it's not the mechanics or electronics either. I'd see $200 as a decent value for this lens. But $500 is a bit much for a novelty item.
 
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Mar 15, 2009
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Why settle for a Gold ring when you can get a Gold lens!! :biggrin:
 
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Gee Stephen, suckers for a $500 lens prototye? I'd say the M9's a worse value proposition.

End-user value is perceived in two ways. First of all what kind of meaning it has for them. Second of all, what the sale price is in relation to the perceived production cost; nobody likes being ripped off. Any professional that has their customers complain about asking $25 for a 6×4" print can tell you about this.

The problem in that sense, for this lens, is the extremely simple (mid 19th century, after all) design. A Petzval design is 4 spherical elements. With four elements you don't even need coatings. There's no AF mechanism. There's no aperture mechanism (I don't call the Waterhouse stops a mechanism).

Nikon is one of the more expensive mass-producers of lenses, and they charge on average around $100 per element, set in a barrel that is full of complex focus helixii, motor drives, electronics and a set of curved aperture blades.

This project has Zenit, known manufacturer of Russian budget equipment go a full 25% above Nikon pricing with a design that is infinitely cheaper and simpler than the average modern SLR lens. For the casual observer, $500 seems very high.
 
Joined
Jan 25, 2009
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End-user value is perceived in two ways. First of all what kind of meaning it has for them.....

So how does the Leica Noctilux fit into this comparison?

Whatever our personal views, we need to acknowledge that in the first 3 days of this offering, they have raised over 7 and a half times their stated goal—an incredible $750k. And that tells me that for over 1800 people (at last count), it’s worth it.
 
Joined
Jul 21, 2007
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So how does the Leica Noctilux fit into this comparison?

As I said, first of all value is defined as what value the lens for you has in use. If a $10,000 lens gets you $20,000 of business it is well worth it. There's no doubt that the Leica lenses are very good, and Leica's target audience is more than willing to pay for that. Keep in mind that, while not cheap, nobody doubts that Leica makes these lenses for $50 and sells them for $10,000. There's a complex optical design, elements polished to the highest precision, and a high precision and relative complex barrel.

Whatever our personal views, we need to acknowledge that in the first 3 days of this offering, they have raised over 7 and a half times their stated goal—an incredible $750k. And that tells me that for over 1800 people (at last count), it’s worth it.

Just because there are millions of Justin Bieber or Nickelback fans doesn't make it good music either. And millions of people mutilate their images to make it look as if they took it with a 1970s Polaroid (and apparently film bought in 1790). Doesn't mean everyone should do it or that it's a particular good idea (when you're looking back at your images 10 years from now).

The lens is very well marketed. Retro is in, the brass barrel looks very sexy and screams "steampunk". I bet a lot of the people who ordered it have not the faintest idea what a Petzval design entails. I find the lens appealing, just not $500 appealing. That there are nearly 2000 people who do doesn't mean you get a lot of value for money given what's offered. On the other hand, if it gets you to sell $500 portrait sessions, who cares. So yeah, there's that.
 

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