Leica has announced an M mount version of the “legendary” Thambar 90mm f2.2 variable soft-focus lens. Leitz offered the original, a modified 4 element Hektor with a cemented middle pair and a bunch of uncorrected peripheral spherical aberration, between 1935-49, presumably for that era’s version of ‘Glamour Shots.’
According to Leica:
The Thambar’s distinctive, dreamily romantic look and unmistakeable bokeh are created by deliberately under-corrected spherical aberrations, along with a 20-bladed aperture for the circular rendition of out-of-focus highlights. Because the aberration increases towards the periphery of the optical system, both the extension of the depth of field and the degree of diffusion can be precisely controlled via the step-less aperture ring. Widening the aperture increases the soft focus, whereas stopping down reduces the effect. The opaque area at the center of the included soft focus spot filter prevents the axial rays, which generate sharp focus, from reaching the sensor – resulting in an even more intense soft focus appearance.
Price is rumored to be $6995.00. If you really want to take dreamy photos of your girlfriend or cat and don’t have that sort of change lying around, you could simply buy a cheap 135mm Hektor (you can pick up a decent one on Ebay for less than $100) attach a generic e39 UV filter to it and smear some Vasoline over the filter. Then again, you might not get the “unmistakeable bokeh” of the Thambar, but, hey, you can’t have everything.