Filmmaker Michael Tiedtke is always on the lookout for new cameras and lenses to help him explore and achieve his creative vision. Initially intrigued by its unusual appearance, he puts the New Petzval 58 to the test by pairing it together with RED cinema cameras. The result? A striking and poignant short story about the trials and triumphs of the human bond.
Welcome to the Lomography Magazine, Michael! How did your interest in filmmaking start?
Hi there! Thank you for having me, super excited! I started out with drawing and painting when I was little, back then I loved telling stories through the images I drew. Since then I’ve become more and more interested in telling stories through compelling imagery. Combining that with my love for the cinema, filmmaking is just perfect for me.
Upon seeing the New Petzval 58, what are your first impressions?
When I first saw it featured in an Instagram post I was mesmerized by the look of it. The golden brass build stood out so much from everything else I’ve seen. I spent rest of the day looking at sample images and decided I just had to try it out.
Can you tell us briefly about the video you shot? What's the inspiration behind it?
I feel the lens itself is very abstract and artistic. Therefore I wanted to make a video that was also very artistic and abstract that tells an underlining story, but to most people just feels unique and different (just as the lens does with its 1840’s history, but will capture most of the audience just the way it looks visually).
Upon discussing ideas with my closest friend Anders Mürdahl who’s a Director and DoP in Stockholm, Sweden, we settled on a one-minute short video about how friends and family can drift apart, but how their similarities and bonds will always connect them in a universal way.
We wanted to tell this story in a visually compelling and unique way, so we used color, the lens optics, and the abstract editing to do so. We then got three more friends to join the project. Adrian Wretljung which is an amazing actor based in Stockholm joined as the second actor in the video, Linus Sandvide shot the behind the scenes during the shoot and the video is narrated by Christofer Bengtsson Guillot.
How was your experience shooting with the lens? What are the features that you find interesting?
I loved using it. I felt just as unique in the hands as it did through images. The lens came in one of the nicest packagings I’ve unpacked. I feel Lomography has really thought about every little detail here.
The brass design and build quality was the first thing that struck me, it feels like this is built to last, no plastic anywhere, not even the lens cap. We shot the video handheld using our RED Epic-W 8K and RED Raven 4.5K cinema cameras, so the weight was also really impressive.
Even though the lens is visually amazing, I was mostly interested in how it performed optically because that’s what matters in the end, and specifically how it performed on the Helium and Dragon sensors. These are not 35 mm full frame sensors and I was a little worried that the swirly bokeh effect would not be that apparent. Since you can decide how much swirl you want I turned the ring to the max, and even though I think the effect is more apparent on full frame you can still clearly see the effect on these cameras as well.
The fact that the lens is not weather sealed is not an issue for me as the RED cameras are also very sensitive to dust and water.
The main two downsides I found using this lens for video is the manual aperture blades and the focus ring. The aperture blade easily falls out when the camera is turned upside down and I would hate to lose one of these blades, it’s also a bit cumbersome to change them when shooting unless it’s the same light all the time. Then it’s the focus knob, whilst really cool, has a really short throw and can’t easily be used with follow focus systems. However, I feel that since the lens wasn’t exactly designed for video use back in 1840, I feel like these “flaws” aren’t really flaws since I used it for something it wasn’t meant to be used for.
Optically I was really surprised. I’ve used the other popular options for swirly bokeh, (such as the Helios 44-2 58 mm) and in terms of sharpness, chromatic aberration control, vignetting and bokeh, the Petzval really is superior. If you want a swirly bokeh lens, the New Petzval 58 is the one to choose for IQ.
What do you think makes the New Petzval 58 suitable to your artistic style?
As I mentioned, in the beginning, I strive for creating visually compelling imagery and constantly look for tools to help me accomplish this. I feel the Petzval lenses are perfect for that, their amazing optical qualities stand out from the crowd. With that being said it’s also kind of a specialty lens as sometimes you want sharpness in the corners as well. But for what it’s meant to be used for, such as portraits and artistic images, it’s perfect.
Any dream project that you'd like to shoot with the lens?
I love the unique way Wes Anderson tell stories through his imagery and I would love to shoot something inspired by the way he uses the center frame. I feel that’s how you can make the best use of the Petzval lenses. They really make you feel inspired to shoot something different.
Thank you for sharing your fantastic work with us, Michael! To see more of his work, visit his Instagram.
Want to achieve this level of bokeh in your photos and videos? Grab the New Petzval 58 Bokeh Control Art Lens and get swirly, surreal shots!