Petzval 55 mm f/1.7 MKII First Impressions with Kay von Aspern

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Vienna based photographer Kay von Aspern tells us about his firsthand experience with the Petzval 55 mm f/1.7 Art Lens. He also reveals a few tips and tricks in order to get the most out of our newest Art Lens.

© Kay von Aspern with the Petzval 55 mm f/1.7 Art Lens.

Please tell us a bit about your photography background (how you started, your influences, favorite projects).

I started with photography in the early 80th taking pictures of nearly everything but became more serious in 2004. Since 3 years I am working as a professional photographer and do also offering photo workshops and personal coachings with a focus on urban themes like street photography, urban landscapes, and reportage. It’s a wonderful possibility to inspire people and to see how intense and full of enthusiasm they learn to get remarkable pictures in the public space.

The biggest influence to me is the world I am living in. There are so many - often small - remarkable things for an urban photographer like me, that I can take pictures almost every day. Regarding other photographers, it is difficult to name someone. Of course, the old masters like Lee Friedlander, Ray K. Metzker, Tony Ray Jones to name three are big influences. But there are also countless “no-names” which had a huge impact on my work. My main personal project is a photo book. But I don’t want to have just another “best of” and I have some other ideas for that.

There are a lot of exciting things to capture when you’re out in the streets. How do you keep up with all the action?

I try to be open for everything and always have a camera with me. That is all.

© Kay von Aspern Petzval 55 mm f/1.7 Art Lens.

Could you tell us your experience using the Petzval 55 MKII lens?

My first impresssion was “wow, this is a solid piece of metal!”. I never used a Petzval lens before. So I was excited to use the lens on my Sony A7 and honestly I had to accustom myself to that lens, because normally I use an AF 35mm for my work and the Petzval is 55mm (which is long to me) and totally manual. At the beginning it was a bit difficult to focus, because of it’s optical construction you will get a small depth of field, even if you close the aperture for example from 1.7 to 5.6. Most of the time the corners (and much more) tends to be very soft, combined with this special and intense “Petzval Bokeh”. You can easily create a look with an isolated point / main motive in the picture. I would call it dreamy. After some hours of taking pictures it was a pleasure to work with that lens. Combined with the electronic viewfinder and focus peeking it was a pleasure and the handling was easy.

How does the Petzval 55 MKII lens help you in your photographic style?

I think the Petzval helps me a lot to find a new approach in finding situations and motives. Because of its special character and handling it’s not the lens for fast situations and motives where everything is sharp and perfect kept. It is more for making pictures of moods, light, colours and shades. Playing with sharpness and unsharpness, bokeh. The atmosphere and mood in a photo is the important thing. It’s not just the eye of the photographer, you have to be more empathized in the mood of a situation and motive. Its not about sharp details, it is more like creating a painting :-) The bokeh accessoires, which can be changed in the lens are helpful for that too.

© Kay von Aspern Petzval 55 mm f/1.7 Art Lens.

Any tricks or techniques that you would like to share for street photographers shooting with the Petzval 55 MKII lens for the first time?

Start with slow situations. At the beginning its a bit tricky to focus, but after a while you will be faster. Don’t spend too much time with hunting for the decisive moment. Try to feel the mood and atmosphere of the surrounding where you shoot. Shoot with open or nearly open aperture. This is important to get the special character of the lens. Be open and have fun!


Visit Kay von Aspern's Website to see more of his work, as well as upcoming workshops here.

The Petzval 55 mm f/1.7 MKII is created with discerning photographers and filmmakers in mind. This versatile 55mm art lens brings the unique look of Joseph Petzval’s original lens to full frame mirrorless cameras. This art lens is designed to allow full creative flexibility, with its 7 levels of Bokeh Control and Dual Aperture system. Its optics are optimized to retain the signature swirly bokeh without compromising image sharpness where it counts. It is an indispensable addition to your creative arsenal. Pre-order yours now in our online store.

written by apots on 2019-06-22

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