Oprema Jena’s Future for Resurrecting the Classic Bokeh Looks Bleak

Oprema Jena’s Future for Resurrecting the Classic Bokeh Looks Bleak

The company behind Oprema Jena has filed for bankruptcy and applied for de-listing from the German stock exchange. The crowdfunded designs for resurrecting some of the classic lenses that made bokeh character famous are likely to never come to fruition now.

Awhile back I wrote about how excited I was for these new lenses as I love their character of bokeh and some of the looks the vintage lenses provide. I shoot with many old vintage film lenses in my daily work so naturally getting my hands on the new 75mm f/1.5 Biotar and the 58mm Biotar they were producing would be an absolute must.

The Indiegogo page for the Biotar 2.0/58 had reached 287 percent of the necessary goal to produce these, so many people had thought it was a done deal. With that much funding it was sure to happen and I could feel it in my hands already.

Net SE CEO Stefan Immes was reportedly in a serious car accident and without his support, the company has decided to undergo a restructuring process. They will announce by the end of October what is to happen regarding the crowdfunding issue and attempt will be made to deliver the orders that have been placed.

I'll be following this closely to see how it all unfolds. Hopefully the ship can right itself and continue to produce these legendary lenses.

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15 Comments

Because I love the look of the Biotar, I got really excited about this lens - emotion took over. I opted to back versus buying an original. On a few sites, there was downright derision of any who had backed this lens versus purchasing an original copy; so far, those critics are "winning." I've long wondered why the Zeiss copyright lapsed, why Zeiss or Tokina or someone else didn't push this lens forward. The clock ticks on. It's been a long ride, and of course, we hope for the best for Dr Immes, the Meyer Optik family and this resurrection.

Let’s hope for Dr. Immes speedy recovery!

I think the idea of resurrecting old designs with updated tech is a good one but I was always floored by the high prices. :(

Michael Jin's picture

Price is what killed this for me personally. Yes, the effect is unique, but the lenses were placed at such absurd price points that it was just difficult to justify for anyone not swimming in cash. Similar effects can be had from multiple companies for under $500 and I don't doubt that the build quality of this lens would have been great, but it's really just difficult to ask people to make that leap in price point.

Anyway, I hope that those who did back this will eventually receive delivery, but it's just another reminder of the risks of these crowd funded projects. Wishing the best for the CEO and his family as well as for those who are employed with the company during this process.

Bill Larkin's picture

Yes this is an excellent example of understanding the risks of the crowdfunding products, often things turn out great and sometimes they don't.

Matthew Saville's picture

Is this one of the lenses that got over $1M in funding? I was honestly a bit saddened that so many people were willing to pay so much for a "novelty" lens...

Hope the CEO is OK, though. Sounds like a rough time. :(

No, but not far off, Matthew. $540K on Kickstarter and $199K on Indiegogo but that's for two different lens... the 75mm and the 58mm versions. Not sure, though, that "novelty" is a fair definition. It's more of a classic design from the 1930s (or earlier) that has a bit more flair in the bokeh. I have a classic 1959 Leica Summaron 35mm that offers similar effects but not quite the uniqueness of the Biotar. Same with a 1956 Leica Summarit 50 1.5 but it doesn't render nearly as sharply as the Biotar. Also, there are two very distinguished and highly experienced engineers and designers who have worked on very substantial projects (including Leica Summilux lens) so I think "novelty" isn't quite fair to the backers or the standards laid out by Oprema/Meyer Optiks, but I could be quibbling over words. :)

Han Seoul-Oh's picture

"the quality of being new or unusual, or a new or unusual experience"
"something that has not been experienced before and so is interesting"
"a cheap unusual object such as a small toy, often given as a present"

https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/novelty

yeah, i think "novelty" is an apt description. it's definitely not the third definition based on price alone. however, if your experience with the word is based only on the third definition, i can understand the confusion.

Thank you. I had the third in mind but the "unusual" element in the first is spot on so I stand corrected. Looks like I was quibbling.

Matthew Saville's picture

Moderately expensive is the new "cheap" for millennials with more money than sense. I'd call this a "novelty" in every way, regardless of how qualified an engineer designed it.

The bottom line is, to me, is this a "look" that MOST artists will eventually get over, and deem "dated" while only a select few artists keep it in their toolbag for more than a few years?

(I suspect that soft focus lenses and other such things weren't considered a "novelty" during their heyday, either.)

Interesting. Some like it - others think it's too busy. I'll be curious to see if the ship sails and then, at least in my case, where it will land in a few years. Of course, I'm meanwhile just hoping the ship sails!

Han Seoul-Oh's picture

what's odd is that i havent found a single german or english news report about Net SE CEO Stefan Immes having been in an accident of any sort, reputable source or otherwise. you'd think there would be something reported considering the parent company of so many known brands, some quite prominent (oberwerth, meyer optik), especially if health is concerned.

there are reports about the bankruptcy filing, but nothing about a life threatening accident to the CEO.

Michael Jin's picture

To be fair, they're not really important brands as far as the news is concerned. It's not like we're talking about the CEO of Apple or Samsung here.

Rob Davis's picture

Anyone know what the average failure rate is for fully funded Kickstarter projects? Is it unusually high for photography products?

Spy Black's picture

Crowdfunding, where dreams go to die...

Bus factor = 1 ?