Winter is long in Zurich—the sky is grey for months and it’s raining a lot. I was craving to see the sun again and be able to shoot with a beautiful light, revealing natural colors on my filmstrip. The Easter time is generally ideal for such a “renaissance” of color and light, and I generally tend to search for holidays in southern Europe. I chose Lisbon, for a week, as I heard a lot of positive things about this city and I thought I’ll found there all the light and colors needed for my photographic addiction.
As for every trip, the difficult question is: “What cameras & lenses do I take for this trip?” You surely know all know about this. The “fear of missing out” something essential to shoot because you haven’t taken the right gear with you can be important sometimes. But I didn’t want to have an overloaded backpack with too many camera and lenses as I like also to travel light, and when visiting a city and practicing street photography you don’t have the time to always change your camera and lenses.
I need a compact camera with a 35mm lens (perfect focal length for a lot of situations), but I also like shooting with a very wide angle lens or panoramic camera. For the compact camera, I took my Konica Hexar RF with a Voigtländer 35/3.5 lens and for the wide/panoramic shots I generally take my Hasselblad XPan. But a week before my departure, the new Naiad 15mm lens for the Neptune Art Lens System came in my mail and that changed my whole plan. I wanted to test this new lens, of course, and Lisbon could offer a perfect scenery for this wide angle lens, but taking the XPan, the Hexar, the Naiad with Nikon FM3a, and…wait I didn’t pack a medium format! Too much for a week, I can’t pack all this, I must limit myself.
Sorry XPan, I’ll let you stay on the shelf this time, I have a new shiny wide angle lens to test, She’s called Naiad and I hope these 15mm will satisfy my wide angle photographic desire. Hexar, come along with your 35mm lens buddy. Nikon FM3a, you’re part of the trip, I have a new lens for you! As I still had some place in my bag, I sneaked my two favorite Nikkor lenses (50/1.2 and 105/2.5) as well as medium format pinhole camera because you’ll never know what you have to shoot.
Naiad is kind of a special kid in the Neptune Art Lens family. The older siblings, Thalassa, Despina, and Proteus have the same lineage. They’re small, lightweight and share a familiar character made of sharpness, bokeh, and beautiful texture or color rendition, reminiscent of the character of older lenses made during the time when only analogue existed. Not the clinical sharpness and cold atmosphere of today’s modern digital lenses, for sure. And here comes the newborn of the family, Naiad. Same family, same roots (that is, obviously, the Neptune mounting system) but this lens has taken some liberty to be really different from the others!
First of all, the size and weight. Looking at the four front lenses of the Neptune, Naiad is popping out as the biggest and heaviest one. What a piece of glass, with its huge round front surface covering a stunning field of 135°! Will this hold tight on the lens base? Is it not too heavy? No problem at all, it fixed on its base without any problem and looking through the viewfinder, the only words who came out of my mouth were: “Waouhhh…That’s wiiiide!!!!” Not only the lens offers a very wide view, but it has also the ability to focus down to 0.01m. That’s insane! Naiad, you’re definitively a special member of the Neptune Art Lens family!
Well, after this first contact with Naiad, I couldn’t wait longer to test it on the field and to see how it feels to shoot with it in the streets of Lisbon. So, here I am. I landed in Lisbon, welcomed by a warm light and a beautiful blue sky. I headed to the apartment I rented in Alfama, in the heart of Lisbon’s old city. It was the middle of the afternoon and the weather was beautiful, so I took my two cameras and go out to shoot in the old city.
Alfama is a beautiful place. A real labyrinth of narrow streets where you can lose yourself for hours, climbing up a lot of stairs, discovering a charming little cafe where you can taste these delicious pasteis de nata, admiring fascinating views over the old city from various miradouro (One of my favorites in Alfama is the Miradouro de Santa Luzia. Further north of the old city, the Miradouro de Graça and Senhora de Monte are also worth the view). The streets of Alfama are also covered with some beautiful street art worthy to be shot. In all these situations, the stunning 135° field of view of the Naiad 15mm lens offers fantastic perspectives to capture the atmosphere of this unique old city.
But Lisbon isn’t limited to it’s old city, and there are a lot of other stunning areas to discover. I won’t make a detailed catalogue of all the places I visited as it would be too long (and boring), but I was out every day, walking an average of 15km/day (and in the eight days I spent there, that’s 120km of walking and knowing that Lisbon is not on a flat surface but spreads over several hills, it’s kind of physical work sometimes), and capturing a lot of thing through Naiad’s stunning eye.
One of the most interesting experiences with Naiad was a night shooting session. It was Saturday and after four days of intensive exploration of the city, I was kind of tired in the middle of afternoon. I went home for a little nap, but slept a few hours in fact. Not tired anymore, I decided to make a walk for a night shooting session, thinking that the 15mm of the Naiad lens would fit perfectly to capture the city at night. I went to Baixa, the area next to Alfama, looking for monuments and scenery which could offer some traffic, illuminated buildings, and night views on the city.
Walking up from Praça do Comércio along the Rua Augusta, I thought that the Elevador de Santa Justa could be an interesting place to shoot at night, as it looks like a metallic structure inspired by the Eiffel tower. I went by a few times during the daytime but it was so crowded with tourists making a huge queue to access the top that I didn’t even try to get there. I hate waiting on never ending queues for a viewpoint where it is so crowded with tourist that you can’t get a good shot without people in front of you.
So it was around 22:30 and the place was empty, and I thought, certainly closed at this time, but at least the street was empty of tourists for a clear shot of the tower. I noticed a guy who was just pulling the metallic grid to close the entrance of the elevator and went to him asking if there was any chance I could still go up for the view. He told me, “No, sorry, we’re closing”, but I insisted a bit, telling him that I never got the chance to go up there because of the huge amount of tourists every time I was there, and I just wanted to take a few night shots from above. “Ok, I’ll ask if it’s possible, wait here,” he answered me. When he came back and told me “It’s ok, you have 10 minutes." So I was the last one that came in, five other people were already in the elevator and I got to the top.
The view from there is amazing with the old Castle, Alfama, Baixa, and it was a full moon night! I quickly installed my tripod and my camera for some long exposure shots of the city. I had a Velvia 100f in the camera, intended to slide process it and estimated an exposure time of around two minutes at f22. I already made four shots and was alone on the platform as the other five tourists already left. The guy from the elevator came up and told me, “It’s time to go now." I answered “One last shot please, it only takes two minutes.”
He was laughing and perhaps didn’t thought that I was serious about these two minutes, but waited until the end of my shot. I was very thankful about his patience and kindness and happy to have done these shots. But some anxiety did rise: What if my exposure time wasn’t enough? What if I was too extreme by setting the aperture at f22 and have almost have nothing on the shots? Did I frame right? Well, Naiad has such a large field of view, so at least I shouldn’t been wrong on this, but I really hoped for good shots.
The night tour went on and I shot various other places in the city, staying with the same settings at f22 and between two to four minutes of exposure, guessing the light situation and hoping for good results. And I must say that I wasn’t disappointed at all when seeing the results: Naiad is an absolutely perfect lens for night shooting!
There are of course a lot of other places and situations where shooting with Naiad was a very rewarding experience. From the narrow streets of the old city to huge monuments and modern architecture, nothing is too big and impressive for it. I enjoyed Belém, with the famous Torre de Belém and Padrão dos Descobrimentos, the impressive architecture of the MAAT building and of the Champalimaud Foundation. North of Lisbon, the breathtaking area of the Parque das Nações with its futuristic railway station, Oceanarium, and Vasco de Gama bridge are also perfect to shoot with the Naiad Art Lens (Thanks to @robertofiuza for showing me this part of the city, was very cool to meet you & Silvia!)
After eight days in this beautiful city and six films shot exclusively with the Naiad 15mm lens, I’m very happy with this lens. It offers an unique perspective of the city, very easy to use and offers spectacular results.
Welcome in my lens collection Naiad, you’ll be part of a lot of my future travels around the globe!
We'd like to thank Lomographer @vicuna for his wonderful photographs shot with the Neptune Convertible Art Lens System!