In 1840, Joseph Petzval invented an optical portrait lens, which for the rest of the century would be used to take loads of photos. Now, Lomography has reengineered the lens from the ground up for today's Canon and Nikon cameras. And the photos are incredible.
What we're looking at is a complete reinvention of the Petzval lens to fit either Canon EF mount or Nikon F mount cameras — they'll work on both film SLR and DSLR cameras. This is primarily a portrait lens that you'll want to use on a tripod: It has a maximum aperture of f/2.2 for wonderful depth of field. It's minimum focal distance is one metre, so you can't stand on top of whatever it is you're shooting at. The lenses will weigh about 450g.
The new lenses will be manufactured in Russia, and besides being lovely brass cylinders that look beautiful, they also take gorgeous photos. If we're to believe the samples posted on Lomography's website, the new Petzvals are capable of pretty remarkable things:
What lovely bokeh! Vignetting for years! Dope colour saturation!
Now, of course, we don't have very much information about the sample photos. There's a pretty good change some were shot on film, or doctored after the fact. But the concept behind what Lomography is trying to do is pretty remarkable.
And Lomography wants your help — as with the smartphone film scanner the company announced earlier this year, the Petzval lens is making its debut on Kickstarter. When I asked why a company that has plenty of resources is crowdfunding a product, Lomgraphy told me "The Kickstarter community in particular are very passionate about innovation, so it's a better platform for us to show them and the rest of the world the progress and most importantly the innovations of analog photography." In other words this is more about marketing than trying to jumpstart a pipe dream.
Lomography says it hopes to have production lenses for sale Spring 2014 and says that the first 1000 lenses from the Kickstarter should be available by the end of this year. When the lenses hit the market, the company says it'll charge £330 for them. [Kickstarter and Lomography]