Lomo Nep­tune

Canon EF Nikon FX Pen­tax K

Digital Camera World - - CONTENTS -

Three full-frame prime lenses in one

It’s three full-frame prime lenses in one, but just try not to gasp too much at the price of this trendy pack­age

Lomography is full of sur­prises. This hipster retro spe­cial­ist op­er­ates a reg­u­lar pro­duc­tion line of plas­tic lo-fi cam­eras, in­stant cam­eras, and quirky films in all kinds of for­mats, and has helped re­launch clas­sic lens types.

The Nep­tune Con­vert­ible Art Lens Sys­tem might seem like a ran­dom off-the-wall idea, but the de­sign has its foun­da­tions in the his­tory of lens de­sign. In 1840, op­ti­cal pi­o­neer Charles Che­va­lier pre­sented a ‘con­vert­ible’ lens with an in­ter­change­able bar­rel, an idea that Lomography has res­ur­rected for the 21st cen­tury.

The sys­tem con­sists of a base unit that at­taches to the cam­era lens mount, and a se­ries of three ad­di­tional lenses that at­tach to this base. The base con­tains some of the op­ti­cal el­e­ments, the di­aphragm and fo­cus ring, while the add-on lenses pro­vide three dif­fer­ent fo­cal lengths.

The Tha­lassa is a 35mm f/3.5; the De­spina is a 50mm f/2.8; and the Pro­teus is an 80mm f/4. By to­day’s stan­dards, the aper­tures are mod­est, but these add-on lenses are far smaller and lighter than their mod­ern equiv­a­lents. Each would eas­ily fit in a trouser pocket or, quite pos­si­bly, a shirt pocket.

How­ever, there are sig­nif­i­cant me­chan­i­cal and op­er­a­tional lim­i­ta­tions. For a start, all three lenses are – not sur­pris­ingly – man­ual-fo­cus only. Not only that, but there are no me­chan­i­cal or elec­tronic con­nec­tions to the cam­era body, so your DSLR will not know which aper­ture set­ting you’ve de­cided to use. It’s not just fo­cus­ing that has to be done man­u­ally, but ex­po­sure me­ter­ing too – very old-school, to say the least.

The add-on lenses feel weighty and well-made, but the base unit feels crudely fash­ioned by com­par­i­son. The fo­cus ring works smoothly, but

1 In­di­vid­u­ally, the Nep­tune lenses are far smaller than equiv­a­lent mod­ern prime lenses. 4 5 2 7 6 3 1 The De­spina 50mm f/2.8 of­fers a stan­dard lens an­gle of view on a full-frame Nikon and 75mm equiv­a­lent on a DX model. 2 The Tha­lassa 35mm f/3.5 is a good lens for street pho­tog­ra­phy, with enough depth of field for rough ‘zone’ fo­cus­ing. 3 The Pro­teus 80mm f/4 lens is sharp, but the pre­cise man­ual fo­cus­ing needed is tricky with a DSLR viewfinder. 4 This base unit at­taches to the cam­era and con­tains three op­ti­cal el­e­ments plus the fo­cus and di­aphragm mech­a­nisms. 5 The fo­cus mech­a­nism is smooth enough, but the aper­ture ring on our sam­ple was stiff. 6 The di­aphragm is ex­posed. If you want to use a dif­fer­ent, cre­ative ef­fect, you can use the sup­plied bokeh plates. 7 The three add-on lenses at­tach via this bay­o­net fit­ting in the base unit. It’s a me­chan­i­cal fit­ting with no elec­tronic con­nec­tions.

The Nep­tune sys­tem can be used on mir­ror­less cam­eras via adap­tors.

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