Reinventing classic lenses mixes the artistic flair of film photography with the convenience of digital. The Oprema Biotar 58 creates an artistic look through a technological feat: 17 aperture blades. The classically inspired 58mm manual focus lens is launching on Indiegogo with mounts for Canon EF, Nikon, Sony E, Lecia M, and Fujifilm X.
The new Biotar 58 f/2 is based on a classic lens of the same name first manufactured in Germany in 1937 by Carl Zeiss. While the lens saw several updates over the years, the reincarnation is based on the first version for one reason — those 17 aperture blades. While later versions dropped those numbers to reduce costs after the Second World War (the first lens sold for what would be equivalent to $4,111 today), Oprema Optik is basing their new lens design on the first version of the lens.
So what’s the deal with 17 aperture blades? The shape of the aperture affects the bokeh, or those out-of-focus spheres of light in the image. As the only lens with 17 aperture blades, Oprema Optik says that the Biotar 85 is capable of creating swirly, dreamy, or soft bokeh while still capturing sharp images. Many modern lenses can’t achieve that because of their autofocus systems — so the Biotar 58 uses a fully manual design.
Sample image from the Oprema Biotar 58
Manufactured by Keno Tokina, the modern version of the lens is designed with six optical elements in four different groups. The minimum focusing distance is about 20 inches, allowing for close-ups but not standard macro-level performance. The 58mm focal length covers about a 20-degree perspective. The entire lens weighs just under a pound.
The Biotar 58mm is the second lens in the series by Oprema Optik, after the Biotar 78mm, which was also launched through crowdfunding. Oprema Optik isn’t alone in re-creating old lenses — Meyer Optik has launched several, as well as Glaukar and Voigtlander.
The lens prototype has been completed, but the company is asking for support to start the manufacturing process. Oprema Optik has already surpassed its $50,000 goal, with the campaign continuing through October 12. If the remainder of the process is successful, backers can pick up the lens for pledges starting at $949. The estimated retail price for the lens sits at about $2,000. Backers can also pick up filters and a leather camera bag through the campaign.
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