View Full Version : Tiny Tiny Petzval Lens?

19-Apr-2009, 13:17
I wasn't sure where to put this post, but I thought the best folks to answer a petzval lens question would be here in the LF forum. I've also posted this over at APUG.
I have purchased a couple of the wee petzval lenses from Jim Galli. I adapted them to my pentax 67 using parts from Lowes. They work better than expected (I have posted a few images and pics of the first lens over at APUG a while ago). I'm so pleased with this setup, I can't stand it. You can see many images made with this setup on my website.

Before I ask my question, I'll say that I have cameras from 35mm to 12x20 and I love them all for various reasons. The big cameras generally stay at home due to my physical limitations. A year ago I had a double lung transplant, and although I'm doing great, I still cannot lug a huge camera around. The MF setup I cobbled together is everything I ever wanted as a great compromise.

My wife and I are going to Italy for two weeks in June and early July. I just cannot see taking the Pentax rig with me, and LF stuff is out of the question. I have back and ankle problems, and we will do a lot of walking, which just adds to the BS I have to deal with. I'm afraid I will have to go digital for this trip (please forgive me. I don't like it any more than you do ). This brings me to my crazy question:
If I could figure out a way to have a 35mm version of my MF Pentax setup, I would be thrilled. Would anyone know a practical way (without a PhD in optics or mechanical engineering) to build a petzval lens that is small enough to get the desired edge effects on a 35mm camera?
Has anyone ever done this, or do you think SK Grimes would build me a simple one mounted in a tube that I could fashion into a push/pull focusing setup? Another option would be buying the lens elements from Edmunds and making it myself. Unfortunately, I wouldn't know where to begin with this.

I know this is not strictly in the realm of large format, but if you all could help out a kindred spirit, I would appreciate it a great deal. I'm just brainstorming about this and wondering if anyone has any thoughts on the subject before I spin my wheels and start pursuing it further....


Emil Schildt
19-Apr-2009, 13:38
have a look here.. Not sure if it is the right choise, but it sure is small....

(beware:I might make a bid or two on this one...;-))


Dan Fromm
19-Apr-2009, 14:00
If you can live with fixed aperture and short back focus, many, not all, projection lenses for 8/8, S8, and 16 mm cine projectors are Petzval types. The short back focus means that these lenses won't clear a 35 mm SLR's mirror, but if you have the money and Grimes has the time (don't know how their backlog is these days) they should be able to adapt one of them to, e.g., a thread mount Leica or Soviet clone.

You might also consider having an S8 or 8/8 projector lens adapted to a mini-4/3 (is that the right name) format digital camera. I have a few friends who are going nuts adapting cine camera lenses to these confections ...

Good luck, have fun,


20-Apr-2009, 02:45
Having browsed through your portfolio, Steve (and at the grave risk of being burnt at the stake by the forum) perhaps a Lensbaby would provide you with an effective 35mm solution. Your Alt processing skills would further enhance the result.

20-Apr-2009, 13:36
Thanks for the reply. I do have a new Lensbaby, and I like it. But it's much different than the Petzval lens. I will definitely be taking the Lensbaby to Italy, but I would love to find some sort of Petzval lens that I could adapt to the 35mm.

Jim Galli
20-Apr-2009, 13:53
I sold a 50mm Petzval to Stefan (stehei here at LFForum). He had it mounted for a digital camera. Send him a PM and get him to share what / how he did that. I never could get it close enough to a sensor on my D200. I could do close up type pics but not normal. Maybe he cobbled it to a rangefinder. It would have to be a RF with a really large sensor to still have the petzval look though. A 50mm would need the whole 35mm area to look Petzvally.

20-Apr-2009, 19:09
You never tried that baby Petzval onto a Leica M3 ?
The M3 had a back that could be opened for focussing without film in it...... could have been nice !
Or mounting it onto a micro-4/3rds


Barrie Watts
21-Apr-2009, 11:43
I've started using a 55mm f1.8 Petzval on my Nikon F90x with film. It has a great look to it and it can focus from infinity to close up without too much trouble. I couldn't get the same look on my D200 the sensor is way too small. You need to use full frame 35mm to get the 'Petzval Look'. I think my lens was used for an old cine camera.



21-Apr-2009, 11:51
A year ago I had a double lung transplant

Uhhh, what? That's possible now? Wow.

21-Apr-2009, 11:52
Nice stuff on your website, BTW.

21-Apr-2009, 14:07
By 35mm do you mean a digital SLR? Is weight/bulk the main concern then? What if you could adapt the lens on your pentax (or similar but smaller) to the front of a Holga? That way you could still get medium format and it would weigh nothing. The challenge of course would be focusing, but with shims and/or a helical I bet you could rig something up without too much trouble. Another option might be to mount a small petzval (like the one gandolfi points out) onto a 6x6 folder. You wouldn't be able to close it obviously but it wouldn't take up much space/weight.

21-Apr-2009, 15:28
Yep, they cracked open my sternum and out with the old, in with the new (not really that easy). Medical science....you can't beat it. Of course all the drugs I take introduce a whole new set of issues, but you can't have everything. Where would you put it?

Thanks for the compliment on the website. I always appreciate compliments since most of us usually toil away in obscurity.

I was pretty much talking about a DSLR. I have to carry a tremendous amount of medication in my carry-on bag. The idea of carrying a couple of big cameras, along with a ton of film, on top of the meds and everything else just doesn't seems logistically feasible.
I have my eye on the lens gandolfi pointed out (thanks, by the way), but we'll see.


24-Apr-2009, 09:47
Steve, your tintypes of the dogs are superb! Really fantastic. Keep up the great work. ed

24-Apr-2009, 18:09
Thanks for the compliment. Those are obviously "modern" tintypes, using digital negatives and printed using liquid emulsion on metal under an enlarger light.
I think when we return from our trip to Italy in July, I'm going to embark on learning the wet plate collodion process. Not sure how I can continue the dog series with real wet plate, but I'll give it some thought....

21-May-2009, 01:47
Stumbled across this thread,
I did buy a mini petzval from Jim, and it turns out to be a great lens,
I cannot shoot at infinity, but till 1 meter approximately,
I bought a t2 canon eos adapter and had the thread cut out,
so the lens would fit as close to the mirror as possible. Works

I would be VERY interested if anybody could point out how I can
see the difference in projection cine petzvals and anastigmat desings,
is it obvious from the ouside? I've looked some up, but can't find out
which are petzvals and which are not,