We recently got an invitation to try the Daguerreotype Achromat 64mm f2.9 Art Lens by LOMOGRAPHY!
I was full of expectations to receive it, I always liked these vintage (or vintage looking) photographic gears. The ‘jewels of yester-years’ with all the mass produced stuff we have in modern times, these vintage, often hand-made, cameras and lenses are all the more valuable in the eyes of people who appreciates them.
Lomography revived the old design of one of the first camera lenses ever made for an image capturing device, Daguerreotype is a type of photographic method and this lens is designed for that sort of camera by Charles Louis Chevalier. I got acquainted with the handling of the lens, and off I go shooting with it.
Design and Handling:
My first shot… the lens… surprised me with its softness, that was my first impression, I think that’s why its called an ‘Art Lens’ its a specialized lens and image quality isn’t one of its specialty.. Manual focusing with it was quite a challenge wide open, because its so soft I couldn’t tell whether it was in focus or not.. It gets better when I slot in the apertures.. Yes I said ‘slot in apertures’.
The aperture system was different from the usual lenses I’m used to, it uses a ‘waterhouse aperture system‘ according to the Lomography site. Basically, you have a number of metal plates with holes cut in it, so you slot them into the designated hole on the body of the lens like a waterhouse gate. Each plate has its own aperture value inscribed on it so adjusting your aperture will be all the slotting in and out hole, instead of turning the aperture ring. Lots of holes ya? (Check them out below)
But one of the best features is the patterned holes; the lens came with a set of rounded holes plates like fireworks and pointy holes like stars, refer to my examples below.
It is said that the round ones will smooth the skin tones and achieve a soft focus glowing effect, best used for portraits. And the pointy stars will give a better resolution and colour rendition, better for general usage IMO. I can see the subtle difference when I use either of them holed plates, but what interests me most is the bokeh they produced. When there are bright lights in the bokeh of my photos, the lights’ bokeh will reflect the shape of the aperture holes used. I think its damn cool, and that’s why I went hunting for scenes that give rise to these bokeh effects.
Conclusion and Thoughts:
Whats there to talk about the image quality (IQ) etc right? This is a lens not made for its IQ but for the special effects it creates. In real life usage, I neglect to say its made of brass and it weighs me down. I used it on my a7II and I would appreciate a battery grip on my setup because the lens is in DSLR mount and my adapter extends its centre of gravity further away from my camera body, it gave me achy wrists due to my previous injuries so I’m more prone to achy wrists.
I found out that there’re 3 main types of modes depending on which aperture blade you use or the lack of one.. When using the pointy stars or the rounded fireworks, it gives…
It is said that the round ones will smooth the skin tones and achieve a soft focus glowing effect, best used for portraits. And the pointy stars will give a better resolution and colour rendition, better for general usage IMO.
I quote myself. LOL. Then when you’re using the normal single hole aperture blades, you get a swirly out of focus area around the centre of focus. I find it convenient that a single lenses can offer you 3 types of special effects, I know its a love-hate relationship with effects, some love it and some hate it. I for one, would love it at times.. I wished our modern lenses has a switch on them for which we can switch between an ‘art mode’ to ‘normal mode’.. check out the effects in my samples below:
Pointy aperture blades
Round fireworks aperture blades
No aperture blades
And for demonstrating how a normal lens will look like, the following is taken with Zeiss C-Sonnar 50mm f1.5 ZM (AKAMYFAVOURITELENS).
And there you have it. If you ask me would I like to own this lens, well my answer is “Hell Yes!” for the flexibilty of being able to create art effects, I’d add this to my kit, even though I probably wouldn’t use it as a general purpose lens.. For it is, after all, an Art Lens.
For more info, check out Lomography’s Daguerreotype Microsite.
You can buy your own at their online shop.
That’s all I have now, cheers people.
This post is brought to you by Lomography.