Lomography kickstarts a Petzval portrait lens for Nikon and Canon DSLR cameras


Lomography, in cooperation with Zenit, started a kickstarter project on a Petzval portrait lens for Nikon and Canon DSLR cameras (as many of you guessed correctly in this post). The lens is currently in production, the first prototypes are expected in the next month or two. For more information, visit this page.

Press release:

Invented in 1840, Reloaded in 2013 by Lomography and Zenit: The New Petzval (D)SLR Art Lens

  • The Comeback of the Year: the first and greatest portrait glas lens of all times, reinvented & reengineered for your nowadays Canon and Nikon (D)SLR Cameras!
  • Character matters: extreme sharp, fine and crispy, strong colour saturation, tasty swirly bokeh effect, artful vignetting, large aperture/narrow depth of field
  • A totally distinctive look of photos: play the moment with manual focusing, depth of field, swirley effects and other Petzval lens specialties – far beyond photoshop and any filters!


The comeback of the year

Zenit and Lomography engineers redraw, re-calculated and re-measured the original 1840 Petzval lens to make it work for your modern (D)SLR – cameras. With the same unique features as the original lens – swirly bokeh effect, sharpness, large aperture and high contrast - the new design will be compatible with analogue and digital cameras! The Petzval lens is available for pre-order exclusively on Kickstarter.com, a platform to fund product innovation ideas: http://www.kickstarter.com..(Please change when final)
With your funding you help us to bring back this fantastic lens for a whole new generation of photographers and film makers in the 21st century.


Character matters

Re-create the original and amazing looking 175 year old swirly bokeh effect with your modern SLR camera! The lens made out of Russian glass has a large f2.2 aperture, narrow depth of field, field curvature, with an extremely high resolution in the focus area, making the objects in focus crisp and sharp, while elements out of focus get blurry and swirl away like it was never seen before. While the original lens was only optimized for black and white photography, the new Petzval lens is a high quality multi coated lens to ensure great performance in nowadays colour analogue and digital cameras!


A totally distinctive look of photos

Filters go home! The Petzval’s sharp and blurry distinctive swirly bokeh effect is impossible to reproduce with any filters or computer programs. Furthermore the lens has great features such as high colour saturation and contrast as well as a large aperture, close to large format photography! And as the Petzval lens is compatible with all Nikon F and Canon EF mount analogue and digital SLR cameras, you can now get the unique Petzval look on film, pixel images and even video! Say goodbye to complicated post-production retouching!
See photos taken with the first working prototype of our New Petzval Lens here.


Technical specifications

  • Focal length: 85mm
  • Maximum aperture: f/2.2
  • Apertures: Waterhouse aperture set
  • Minimum image circle: 44mm
  • Field of view: 30 degrees
  • Flange distance: > 46.5mm
  • Back focal length: >46.5mm
  • Lens mounting Profile: Canon EF and Nikon F
  • Electronic contacts: No
  • Closest focusing distance: 1m
  • Vignetting: 2-3EV from center to edges
  • Optic/ Lens tube special features (optional): Gear rack focusing
  • Filter thread requirement: 67mm

Sample images

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  • Glen

    Is it me or is the bokeh in these sample images hideous? I appreciate the sentiment of what they are trying to do but asking for donations so you can manufacture a lens for profit seems a bit out there. I am assuming this lens is going to cost at least as much as an 85 f/1.8g for less performance and more hassle.

    • yup

      I’d say it’s pretty clear that you don’t understand the concept of the lens.

      It is not supposed to be pin sharp with perfect bokeh. It is a deliberate attempt to recreate one of the oldest lens designs in photography for the digital age.

      • AM

        For $30 a Holga does that.

        • Joseph

          The Holga lens is not made out of glass, is not a Petzval, and doesn’t compare in any way to this venture. Stop talking out of your ass.

          • AM

            We’re talking about the result, not about what is made of what, or what is what. So, now who’s talking OOHA? Get a life.

          • Joseph

            The Holga lens does not have swirly bokeh. It is a fixed f/8 aperture lens or something like that, or almost 16x less light-collecting power and with no ability to change aperture. The results from the two products, though having similar focal lengths, will be vastly different, and clearly distinguishable by anyone with half a brain and at least one eye. I have a life thank you very much and luckily I’m not wasting it being an idiot.

          • AM

            Anybody with half brain would have known that my original comment was a joke, but it seems that you didn’t get it that way and instead got all berserk calling names. That’s why you need to get a effing life.

            And I won’t waste my time arguing about technicalities to compare two lenses that we all know produce crappy results. Who effing cares about their bokeh or anything else? Both lenses are crap.

          • Joseph

            Yes, who cares indeed, well maybe the 1200 that backed the project in less than 24 hours. Apparently you have nothing better to do than whine and moan about a product you supposedly think is dumb, what a miserable life. Don’t backtrack and act like your comment was a “joke” when you clearly didn’t know anything about the products in question.

          • Lee Mullen


      • “It is a deliberate attempt to recreate one of the oldest lens designs in photography for the digital age.”

        I’d say it’s a deliberate attempt to commercialise the same…

      • Dave

        I don’t think he understands the concept of a commercial venture, “manufacture a lens for profit”?? How dare they. Kickstarter isn’t built just to fund charities.

    • Joseph

      Quality of Bokeh is subjective.

    • Joseph

      And further, they aren’t asking for donations numbskull. You are pre-ordering a lens, so they can be assured of a certain number of sales before manufacturing. It’s called crowd-sourcing.

      • Glen

        Maybe if you pay the $2500 donation you actually get a lens. The $300 donation only gives you the opportunity to buy it “at a very, very, special price” which they don’t actually specify.

        • Joseph

          So serious question, are you mentally handicapped? Or just trolling? Clearly backers at the $300 and higher reward tier are pre-ordering a lens.

          What do they teach you kids in school? Certainly not reading comprehension I guess.

          • sperdynamite

            He’s right, aside from the $300 dollar price point, Lomo is just asking consumers to foot the bill for their R&D. They’re a big enough company where they shouldn’t have to do that. It’s shitty, and I personally am not donating. Love the concept, think the excision is shady. When individuals crowd source it’s cool because they would need to seek investors anyway. Lomo can go to a bank, or use their existing profit. They do have quite a mark up on cheap cameras anyway.

          • Joseph


            In case you missed it (apparently you did!) they already have a working prototype. They’ve already put in the money to design the lens,and make some of the first models. Yes, they are still perfecting the optics (which is a good thing).

            I think you just want to piss in the cornflakes as it were.

          • Jim

            I doubt they are “perfecting” the optics, Lomo is more times than not synonymous with the opposite of that 🙂

          • Lee Mullen

            Quite an arrogant self promoting moron aren’t we??

          • Joseph

            And what’s your problem? Self-promoting? I have no connection to Lomo. Actually I think some of their products suck and are extremely stupid. So unless you have a viable counter-argument, why don’t you just shut up?

  • Victor Vargas

    Mounting a lens meant for a large format camera on a 35mm sensor camera will never NEVER give the same “effect”, it is pure optics.

    • Joseph

      Correct, which is why the are manufacturing a NEW lens, designed FOR a 35mm size sensor/film.

      I don’t think many of you actually read the article/announcement.

      • MOTVRWC

        F2.2 on a 35mm sensor just won’t cut it. The original petzval lenses were around F3.7 on very large format film. This lens would have to have a much large aperture for a similar effect. The difference in depth of field is huge. Based on the sample images this lens just doesn’t have the look.

        • Joseph

          I am aware of the equivalencies involved, as I shoot 4×5 and 8×10.

          Petzvals varied widely in size and speed. There were many that weren’t quite that fast, and f/2.2 is probably about as big an aperture as would make sense without having a massive lens and costing 5x as much.

          Regardless, you are judging based on admittedly pretty poor sample shots.You’ll just have to wait and see – but I bet in capable hands this will create very nice, unique images.

          • MOTVRWC

            The sample shots are all we have, and I don’t think capable hands have anything to do with bokeh. It is obviously a subjective decision. As far as a larger aperture costing 5x as much that is simply not true. Rokinon has a 85mm/1.4 that is just lovely for similar money as this. If you want swirly bokeh look for the Helios 40-2 85mm/1.5, also close in price to this lens. Sorry but it looks like this lens is just being marketed as a hipster gimmick with it’s brass body and old look. Personally I will stick to my 4×5 and 8×10 as well.

          • Joseph

            As much as you want to believe otherwise, none of those lenses are Petzvals.

            The statement that it’s a “hipster gimmick” is just a load of crap. Photography itself is a gimmick in some art circles.

  • matt

    Twice I have dropped my 70-200 causing internal damage. The pictures it took while damaged looked strikingly similar to these samples.

  • TinusVerdino

    M42 please.

  • Lee Saxon

    Are they absolutely batshit insane? $350 is a “very special” and “introductory” price for this lens that very clearly costs $9 to manufacture?!

    • Joseph

      It’s made of BRASS and OPTICAL GLASS, not plastic.

      I don’t think many of you actually read the article/announcement.

      • Calibrator

        They wrote it “features premium Russian-made glass optics”.
        From all we know the glass could come from old Vodka bottles…

        • Lurch

          Seriously? SOme of (if not THE) best glass for most of the 20th Century came from the Eastern Block and Russia. They know how to make glass.

    • phentex

      They’ll become insanely rich within hours with all the hipsters out there.

      • c.d.embrey

        Hipsters?? You’ve got to kidding, they aren’t making this lens in Fuji XF mount!

      • Guest

        Well why don’t you build a brand name, get people interested in it, make a product, and sell it?

        Do you begrudge everyone else’s successes?

  • distanted

    I have this idea for reintroducing a pinhole opening for the modern DSLR and sell them for $200 a pop. All I need to get off the ground are your donations in the form of cash, tin foil…and a pin

    • Joseph

      It’s been done, try again.

      • Lurch

        Yup. EG: Pentax just released one for the Q

  • tim

    I feel that people ranting over the image quality dont really get photography at all. A photographer uses what he needs for a specific image or idea. From the 200 f2, to pinholes. A camera and equipment is a TOOL, not the main thing.

  • Meewok

    Project is cool and I like how they’re actually bringing out a working lens, but I honestly don’t see much of a point in it’s use (aside from being fun).
    For a lens designed to be “swirly” I say these shots aren’t swirly enough, I’ve seen Helios and others produce crazier (and still not as rough) bokeh. At least it does look sharp enough and there’s no color fringing like with Canon’s 85mm 1.8 which is similarly priced

    • Guest

      Aside from being fun?
      Isn’t that, like, one of the main reasons people do photography?

  • Spencer Walker

    ZENIT!?!?!?!? =D
    They made some of the best knock off Leicas

  • john

    I see a lot of mixed feelings in the comments. I personally have a Petzval for my Pentax 67. I wouldn’t say its the “Go to” portrait lens, but it does produce pleasing results on the 67. It is unique in it’s own right and should be used appropriately, like a fisheye. All in all, I think it’s great that they’ll be releasing an old classic for this generation. It may not be for everyone and I won’t be purchasing this, but I’m sure there is a market for this.

    • waterengineer

      I would be interested in knowing where you found your lens. Thanks.

  • JR

    I would like to see this lens produced. I support you 100%. I’m hoping it will work on all Nikons and Canons.

  • inteliboy

    Wow, bunch of negative trolls here. In an endless sea of optically “correct” lenses and boring digital cameras – why would anyone complain about this product? It’s something different, and is loaded with photography history.

  • Lee Mullen

    Move along now, nothing a C Mount cine lens can’t do….plus these two must have mummy and daddy’s wealth of funds to do this…..

    • Joseph

      Oh really? Remind me how a C-mount lens can be put on any SLR?

      Wait…no it can’t moron.

  • Lee Mullen

    I think ‘Joseph’ is an insider for these two cash rich middle class Gen Yers. Be very careful, he can’t agree with you by law. He has to be right.

    • Joseph

      “two cash rich middle class Gen Yers”

      Who? I’m sorry but the level of stupid in here was so high I had to speak out.

  • RichMonster

    In the write-up it mentions ‘sharp’. Which part of any of these samples are they using for their claim? Cool idea, but why would I stick this on the front of my D800?

    • Ian Dangerzone

      Rich, you probably wouldn’t. Photographing portraits (the ideal use of the lens) on that monster sensor is probably not the best use of either the camera or the lens, unless you want to spend eons in post taking out the acres of blemishes it will reveal on your subject. I’d consider sticking it on my D7000 or equivalent.

      • g

        Actually putting this Petzval on a crop sensor is especially missing the point, as most of that swirly look will be cut out.

        Also, it is an extremely stupid statement to assume that the D800 is “too detailed” for portraits. Blemishes/skin work should take exactly the same amount of time for D800 files as D700 files if you have any clue what you are doing.

  • BigSmalls

    I have a 35mm f/2D that can make “swirly” bokeh. Just saying…

  • Valiant Thor

    I do feel better because at least they put the Nikon in front of the Canon.

  • sperdynamite

    And what is LOMO gonna do with the extra $500k? This is ridiculous. Lomo is a FOR PROFIT corporation and people are now paying for their R&D, and apparently beyond now, so they can sell a lens at what I’m sure will still be a huge mark up. Corporations should not be allowed to have Kickstarters! Lomo should have funded this venture through their existing lines of profit. 1 million fuckin dollars. Man, people are stupid. (I have no problem with the idea for the lens, I think it’s a great idea. I just think the idea of Lomo doing a kickstarter is super shady.)

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