The Trend Towards Bokeh With Character Continues as Oprema Jena Announces the 58mm Biotar

The Trend Towards Bokeh With Character Continues as Oprema Jena Announces the 58mm Biotar

Bokeh is a topic that often sparks debate and is seen by some as subjective. In a vast sea of endless options for gear, there is nothing that excites me more than a truly special lens with excellent character. Today I'm very excited to share another of my favorite classic lenses being reborn via Oprema Jena, the legendary Biotar 2/58.

Hot on the heels of a recent and wildly successful Kickstarter campaign for the also legendary Biotar 75, the folks over at Oprema Jena are on pace to have a repeat performance and revive another wonderful piece of glass that many younger photographers haven't had the chance to love yet. Using these legendary lenses can offer some incredible looks that aren't regularly seen with today's refinements on element design and for those that are patient enough to work within manual focus, you'll be rewarded with some very impressive bokeh.

These types of classic glass are even easier to use with the features of some of the modern cameras, such as the D850 with it's live view focus peaking and pinch to zoom ability on checking focus. This is something that I feel many overlook, since the peaking is obviously geared towards video. But this feature has a nice little side benefit that further increases the usability and awesomeness of the classics like Oprema Jena has planned to produce.

Modern technology has removed a lot of the characteristics of these classic lenses, as sometimes there were very negative effects mixed in with that awesome character. Oprema Jena has carefully designed both the 75 and 58 Biotar to keep the elements that we all know and love, but to mix in a few modern refinements to give us the best of both worlds.

History of This Legendary Lens Family

Carl Zeiss in Jena, Germany produced the 58mm and 75mm classics which are now in very high demand on the vintage market, and those that have adapted them to work on modern cameras.

They are very highly regarded by those in the know. Oprema Jena Has now written a new chapter in this family's history with the campaign to revive the Biotar 2/58. I have zero doubt this campaign will be a wildly successful as the campaign for the Biotar 75 was, as it easily met the goal and soared past the requirements to make it a reality.

What Makes This Lens Different?

How does the Biotar 58mm f2 keep the awesome character? Part of this awesomeness is a standalone feature not known in any other modern lens on the market today... a remarkable 17-blade aperture which is not done on modern glass due to the torque required to open and close so many blades. Most modern lenses have 10 or fewer blades which aid in quiet and efficient autofocus operation. The Biotar doesn't have to adhere to these requirements, giving it the opportunity to focus on character.

This gives the Biotar a one-of-a-kind background blur that many including myself have long sought after.

How Does This Translate to Real Images

Here are some samples from the Biotar 2/58 that showcase some of it's very unique characteristics.

The unique bokeh is on display here, as the Biotar 2/58 renders a background that's very full of character.

Technical Data

Although I am not big on pixel peeping and technical data on a lens that is intended to produce character, such as this but here it is for your viewing:

When and How You Get One

The Biotar 58 is expected to be market ready October of 2018 with an expected retail price of $1999, which will keep this lens in the hands of the serious folks. I for one am incredibly excited to get one of these in my hands to compliment the other manual lenses I use in my current work today.

Backers on the Indiegogo event will be the first in line.

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Sean Molin's picture

Personally this character works for some subjects but not others. That middle shot with the red flowers has such incredibly busy and distracting bokeh that I'm not a fan. You'll probably find very few true fans of the 'donut' bokeh produced here. Sure, there's a lot of it, but it's not necessarily pleasing.

I'll just say my Nikkor 58mm isn't going anywhere.

Same thoughts Sean! It's definitely unique but not necessarily desirable. To me it just looks "vintage".

I'm with you, Bill. Excited. I've seen a few naysayers comment about this particular resurrection or scuffle over bokeh, but as one person wrote, "you do you and I'll do me." The Indiegogo link now has downloadable files in its press kit for both the 58 and the new 75.

Anonymous's picture

I am baffled by this project. Every example I've seen of the bokeh this produces is hideous and makes me want to look away. Every other optical characteristic is nothing you couldn't get for a $10 uncoated lens at Goodwill plus the cost of an adapter. All for the price of a Zeiss Milvus.

Samuel Flores Sanchez's picture

I don't really like too much neither of the three photography examples, so I search on google and saw some very attractive bokeh effects achieve with this lenses. And I found this very interesting page:


Matthew Saville's picture

I find the price of this lens appalling. Anyone who buys it should be ashamed of themselves. That money could have gone towards helping starving kids in Africa...learn about photography.

OK, joking aside, any hipster who buys this lens should feel like a huge fraud. The whole FUN of classic lens designs, and the "look" they produce, is in hunting down these types of lenses for under $100 on eBay, NOT blowing $1000-$2000 on a brand new one. And this one in particular, I might add, looks downright ugly compared to any of the old classic 35mm SLR / rangefinder lenses of the 70's and 80's. This one looks like a garden hose nozzle.

This "look" will go out of style before you're even done paying it off your credit card.

Hans Rosemond's picture

I'm all for lenses with character, but for that price just grab a mirrorless camera that's a couple of years old, pick up a few cheap adapters, then grab as much vintage glass as you can afford. A lot more bang for your buck IMO. But hey if money's not an object, go for it!

Or, juste go get an Helios 44 on ebay for like 50$ shipping fees included. Same optical formula. The 44m4 is even multicoated ;)

Bokeh , bokeh , bokeh. For $40...not including s/h. why not test a Helios with an oval Bokeh ..or a will get more enjoyment for the price point..or stick a Contax on your set up wide open...