Lomography Reinvents the Legendary Petzval Lens for Analog and Digital SLRs

Let’s go back in time a bit, to the year 1840 exactly, the birth of the legendary Petzval lens developed by Joseph Petzval. The lens revolutionized photography thansk to its F3.6 aperture which was considerably faster than other lenses of that time. But not only its speed made this piece of glass consisting of two doublet lenses with an aperture stop in between legendary. It produced images with sharp centers and unique backgrounds with a whirly bokeh. Now Lomography set out to reinvent the lens for the digital age.

The company just launched a Kickstarter campaign to bring the Petzval lens back. You’re still able to find some samples on eBay, but most Petzval lenses today are defective because of age and they’re not optimized for modern cameras.

Lomography wants to make the well suited portrait lens available for everyone — for a mere $300. They teamed up with Russian lens maker Zenit to manufacture Petzvals for analog and digital SLRs with Nikon F and Canon EF mounts. The lenses will be made of brass, feature a gear rack focusing mechanism and come with a Waterhouse stop set with apertures 2.2, 4, 5.6, 11 and 16.

It’s very hard to find older Petzval lenses which have an aperture larger than F3.5. Because of the large aperture of the new lens, you’ll get photos with a very narrow depth of field and a beautiful classic vignetting effect. Certainly a promising portrait lens!

Intrigued? Lomography may make hipster gimmicks… well only a few days into the Kickstarter campaign the project is overfunded by nearly five times over… Seems to be a market!! Read the whole campaign details, I love this sort of retro innovation.

A cynic might say it’s pure marketing to reject more than 17 decades of optical lens development. This new Petzval lenses however will incorporate some modern design updates. The lenses are expected to ship in February 2014, however Lomography is confident to have a first back of 1,000 samples ready by December.

As retail launch price will be set at $499/€499, you can make some serious savings by backing Lomography on Kickstarter.