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Lomo's Neptune system to debut with three lenses with more being developed

Create: 05/07/2017 - 09:56
The Lomography Neptune Art Lens System

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Three manual focus lenses mount to matching base for use on full-frame film or digital cameras
  • Lenses can be easily adapted to mirrorless digital camera systems
  • Future lenses planned

Lomography has taken the concept of interchangeable lenses in a new direction with its Lomo Neptune Convertible Art Lens system.

This is composed of numerous parts: three lenses, a lens base and a set of six aperture plates.

The three lenses are a f/3.5 35mm Thalassa, f/2.8 50mm Despina and f/4.0 80mm Proteus. The lens base has its own aperture ring, while there are six plates with special-shaped cutouts to add fun to your photography.

Like Lomography’s six previous lens projects, this one is being funded through a Kickstarter campaign. Lomography said it reached its initial $100,000 goal in 2 1/2 hours. Because its secondary goal of $350,000 has been reached, Lomography will include a macro reversing ring, which allows the lens to be mounted backward with the front element facing the camera.

These all are manual focus lenses. The lenses mount via a bayonet to the base, which then attaches to the camera body. The lens base will be available in one of three mounts: Canon EF, Nikon F and Pentax K.

The aperture plates are dropped into the lens base, sitting between the lens and the base.

LENS DETAILS

The base has three lens elements in three groups, while lenses each have four elements in four groups. All of the elements are glass.

The close focus distance for the three lenses are 9.8 inches (0.25 meters) for the 35mm lens, 15.7 inches (0.4 meters) for the 50mm lens and 31.5 inches (0.8 meters) for the 80mm lens. All three lenses are multi-coated and accept 52mm filters.

Lomography points out that the world’s first convertible lens system was created by Charles Chevalier in the 1830s. The Zeiss Ikon Contaflex 35mm single-lens reflex and Contina III cameras used a similar system, as did the Rolleiflex SL26, which used 126 Instamatic film. The Kodak Retina rangefinders also had swappable front elements.

Why not simply create a series of interchangeable lenses? One reason is to reduce the overall cost by not having to produce lenses in multiple mounts. Lomography hasn’t said whether it eventually will sell the base individually, which would make it easy for those photographers who own more than one camera system or are changing to another system.

In its FAQ (frequently asked questions), Lomography says it decided to limit the Neptune kit to three mounts, beccause each of these is easily adaptable to mirrorless mounts via third-party adapters. These are manual-focus lenses with manual apertures, and there are no electronic contacts in the mount.

The lenses are intended for full-frame film and digital cameras and can also be used on digital cameras with APS-C or Micro Four Thirds sensors when using an appropriate mount adapter. Keep in mind the crop factor when shooting these lenses with those bodies. The Neptune system can be adapted to Leica M cameras. However, the lenses will not be rangefinder coupled and should be focused via Live View.

FUTURE LENSES, SHIPPING COSTS AND DATES

The kit will be available with a black or silver lens base, and like most Kickstarter projects, several packages are offered with some including some extra items.

Lomography said it already is planning more lenses, including an ultrawide 15mm optic and a 400mm monocular. Production is being handled in China, and finished products will ship to distribution hubs in Hungary, New York, Hong Kong and Japan.

This keeps shipping costs lower because customers only have to pay for shipping from the distribution hub nearest to them, rather than from China.

Neptune kits with low serial numbers (one of the Kickstarter package options) will begin shipping in November 2017, while others will ship between November 2017 and March 2018. Pentax K-mount kits will start shipping in January 2018.

About the Author

Mike Elek is a longtime journalist and was one of the original editors for The Wall Street Journal Online. He also has worked as a reporter and editor in Pittsburgh; Philadelphia; Vineland, N.J.; Poughkeepsie, N.Y.; New York City; and Hong Kong. He is a U.S. Air Force veteran. He shoots with film and digital cameras.