The photography community was abuzz when Lomography – the makers of plastic lens art film cameras – unveiled a fund raising campaign at Kickstarter.com to produce the Petzval (D)SLR Arts Lens two weeks ago. The campaign has now garnered more than US$1 million, surpassing the original US$100,000 goal by more than 10 times.
It is not difficult to see why this lens has created immense interest. The original Petzval lens was widely used as a portraiture lens more than 170 years ago and it created sharp images in the centre of the frame with a swirly, out-of-focus effect in the background due to its design.
The Petzval look is so unique that it is close to impossible to recreate the same effect in post-editing software. Now the modern take on the Petzval lens, a 85mm model, will bring the same effect to this century’s digital cameras.
Centre is focused, but areas behind the subject have a deliciously swirly effect to reinforce the subject matter.
Lomography has even upped the bling factor by casting the lens entirely from brass, the exact way it was first introduced by mathematics professor Joseph Petzval of the University of Vienna in 1840.
Made by the famous Russian lens maker Zenit, the new Petzval lens is designed and re-engineered to mount onto modern DSLR cameras from Nikon and Canon so that the swirly bokeh effect can be seen on both digital still images and video clips with all their modern conveniences – except for the lack of auto-focus.
The Waterhouse Plate Aperture System. You just need to place the desired aperture plate into the slot.
What’s even more interesting is the 85mm lens’ ability to absorb more light by allowing the use of aperture f2.2 so that night shots is possible without the tripod. It also produces an even shallower depth of field to create even more “delicious” blur to the background.
The Kickstarter fund raising is still in progress. The lens is expected to be delivered in March 2014.