Got bokeh? The classically inspired Biotar 58 has 17 aperture blades

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.

biotar 58 classic lens on indiegogo oprema biotar58 10
Sample image from the Oprema Biotar 58 Oprema Optik

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.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Halfbikes, VR for all your senses, and more

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it's fun to gawk!

Light on price but rich on features, these are the best cameras for students

Need pro-level features on a budget? The best cameras for students mix advanced features with a more palatable price point. From $2K entry level full frame cameras to $600 budget picks, here are five of the best cameras for students.

Samsung Galaxy S10 update gives manual control of Bright Night mode

Samsung 2019 flagship smartphone lineup is here, and there aren't just two phones as usual — there are four. There's the Galaxy S10, S10 Plus, as well as a new entry called the S10e, as well as the Galaxy S10 5G.

Multiple phone leaks show May 21 is going to be a big day for Honor

Honor will launch at least one new smartphone on May 21, at an event taking place in London. Leaks have indicated the Honor 20 will take center stage, with a Lite version, and perhaps even another model also showing up on the day.
Product Review

Equal parts tool and toy, the Lensbaby Edge 35 bucks photographic tradition

The Lensbaby Edge 35, part of the Composer Pro optic swap system, creates tilt-shift-like blur without the tilt-shift price. Made for photographers who want find tradition boring, it opens up new ways to work with blur.

The best budget-friendly GoPro alternatives that won’t leave you broke

Cold weather is here, and a good action camera is the perfect way to record all your adventures. You don't need to shell out the big bucks for a GoPro: Check out these great GoPro alternatives, including some 4K cameras, that won’t leave…

The Black Eye Pro Cinema Wide G4 is a knockout lens for any smartphone

Where cheaper wide-angle accessory lenses add distortion, and costlier models don't always justify their higher prices, the Black Eye Pro Cinema Wide G4 offers a valuable balance of modest price and high quality optics.

Etch-A-Snap camera puts a modern spin on one of your favorite childhood toys

Can't draw on an Etch A Sketch? Snap a photo with the Etch-A-Snap and the camera will draw out the scene for you. The weirdly cool camera designed by Martin Fitzpatrick replaces the usual LCD screen with an old-school Etch A Sketch.

Family feud: Huawei P30 Pro vs. P20 Pro vs. Mate 20 Pro camera shootout

The Huawei P30 Pro's camera has an amazing zoom mode and low light capabilities. But take these away, and how does it compare when facing its sibling phones, the P20 Pro and Mate 20 Pro, taking regular photos?

Nikon Z 7 vs. Sony A7R III: High-res mirrorless cameras compared

The Nikon Z 7 and Sony A7R III both have over 40 megapixels, but which one comes out on top? With similar image quality, the answer comes down to speed, autofocus, battery life, and design.

The Canon EOS Rebel T6 DSLR camera gets a steep price cut at Walmart

Modern smartphones can snap pretty impressive pics, but if you want pro-quality photos, you need a dedicated digital camera. The Canon EOS Rebel T6 is one of the best entry-level DSLR cameras on the market, and it’s on sale right now for…

Panasonic Lumix S1R vs. Nikon Z 7: When megapixels matter, which do you choose?

The 47-megapixels Lumix S1R and 46-megapixel Nikon Z 7 are the two highest-resolution, full-frame mirrorless cameras on the market. The S1R features a high-resolution mode that can take 187MP images, but the Nikon is lighter and cheaper.

Sweet 16: Wacom’s Cintiq 16 pen display makes retouching photos a breeze

Wacom’s Cintiq pen displays are usually reserved for the pros (or wealthy enthusiasts), but the new Cintiq 16 brings screen and stylus editing to an approachable price. Does it cut too much to get there?

Selfies are now banned at China’s gigantic Aperture Spherical Telescope

You can't take a selfie with the world's largest single-dish radio telescope anymore, as the Chinese government has banned everything from smartphones to digital cameras in the surrounding 5-kilometer area.