The cult of chasing the most interesting, characterful bokeh is as strong as ever. A trend has begun to take shape that involves feverishly hunting for older, unique lenses to be brought revived with the help of modern optical quality, as an alternative to many mainstream lenses which tend to prioritize optical perfection over distinct character when designing lenses. A month ago Meyer Optik added a new competitor to a quickly growing market by launching a Kickstarter for a 58mm f/1.9 lovingly named the "Wonder Bokeh."
This particular lens dates back to a formula created by Meyer Optik's own Paul Schaefter eighty years ago and is known for being able to create unique, bubbly bokeh while retaining reasonable sharpness in the center of the lens. As we reported when the Kickstarter first started gaining momentum Meyer Optik's new 58mm certainly brings an exciting new contender to the exotic lens market but what is even more exciting is just how big the market has turned out to be.
Meyer Optik didn't just meet their Kickstarter goal, however, they roared past it reaching a tally almost $750,000 higher than their original goal of only $50,000. The craving for unique, special lenses has clearly expanded well beyond the fringes of photography. Customers are proving that they are willing to line up in droves to attach something special to their camera which suggests that we may be headed towards a renaissance in lens design that will see lens manufacturer competing over more than just sharpness and maximum aperture.
I've made no secret of my love for lenses which offer interesting character, both covering the use of vintage lenses to create creepy Halloween photos as well as when I reviewed Zenit's revival of their 85mm Helios. Personally, I love being able to reach into my lens bag while making a choice beyond just one of focal length. Until now that choice has been quite limited but with the growing trend bringing more of these sorts of lenses to the market I am excited to think that I will, one day, be able to make that choice based on exactly what creative vision I have for a given shoot.
What are your feelings on so many manufacturers (both vintage, and modern) starting to invest more and more effort into creating lenses that offer a certain degree of special character that offer something different than the more mainstream trend of competing over critical sharpness and technical perfection?