Some companies have taken to using Kickstarter as almost a default step in their product pipeline, and New York’s Lomography is one of them. The photography focused company it’s looking to fund a throwback portrait lens for DSLRs based on the historic “Petzval” 19th century design.
The year was 1840 when mathematician Joseph Petzval developed the lens that would later be hailed as the first fast photographic lens, with its trademark field curvature and vignetting. This 19th century invention is considered to possess the best characteristics of portrait lenses and is regarded as an optic breakthrough to this day, which is why we are bringing back the Petzval two centuries after it was created.
The original Petzval lens was a truly revolutionary creation. The speed and performance of Petzval’s design was especially well suited for portrait shooting and helped give birth to commercial photography as we know it.
Most modern lenses are designed to minimize field curvature, so you’ll have the whole image in focus. But that’s actually what sets the Petzval apart from most lenses as it gives photos a totally different optical effect. You’ll get an area which is very sharp at the center of the photograph over a narrow field. There is then progressive vignetting towards the outer edges; this helps draw the viewer’s attention to the crisp area at the center of the photograph.
The New Petzval Lenses will be designed and constructed by a team of optics specialists at the Zenit factory in Russia, together with Lomography. They are built from brass and feature premium glass optics. The new Lomography Petzval lens has great color saturation and high contrast. The resolution of the center of each photo is extremely high. Thanks to the new and improved Petzval design, the Lomography Lens has a large f/2.2 maximum aperture. It’s very hard to find older Petzval lenses which have an aperture larger than f/3.5. Because of the large aperture of the new lens, you’ll get photos with a very narrow depth of field, and when shooting with the aperture wide open, you’ll get a beautiful vignetting effect in your shots. It’s the ideal portrait lens!
The new Lomography Petzval Lens works using a traditional Waterhouse Aperture System. With this design, your lens comes with a set of stops, also known as diaphragms. Each diaphragm is drilled with a hole of a different size and these sizes correspond to the f-stop or aperture. So if you’d like to shoot with f/4 aperture, you select the f/4 diaphragm and insert it into the aperture slot of your lens; if you’d like to shoot with a f/11 aperture, you select the f/11 diaphragm and so on.
Focal Length: 85mm
Apertures: Waterhouse Aperture System (f/16 – f/11 – f/8 – f/5.6 – f/4 – f/2.2)
Image Circle: 44mm
Field of View: 30 degrees
Lens Mounting Profile: Canon EF and Nikon F
Electronic Contacts: No
Closest Focusing Distance: 1m
Focusing Mechanism: Gear Rack Focusing
Lens Construction: 4 Elements in 3 Groups
Filter Thread: 67mm
Dimensions: 120mm x 85mm x 80mm
(Please note: This is an estimate based on the first working sample)
There you have it, folks. The science behind taking a 200-year-old Petzval lens and redesigning it for modern use for both analogue and digital cameras, as well as for shooting still photos and full-length videos!