Lomography’s resurrected Petzval Lens rakes in over $1M on Kickstarter


posted Monday, August 5, 2013 at 5:05 PM EST


Remember last week's Kickstarter campaign from Lomography to resurrect the legendary Petzval lens? As we predicted, it garnered a lot of interest and brought in a ton of donations. Lomography announced today it had reached its Kickstarter goal of $100,000 in just four hours, and that it had raised over $1 million for the project in one week. Not bad of a lens featuring 175-year-old technology.

Invented in 1840 by Joseph Petzval, the Petzval lens sparked a revolution in portraiture thanks to its ability to handle wide apertures and short exposure. Since the lens is now difficult to find and expensive (but still beloved), Lomography decided to try to bring it back to life for the digital age via Kickstarter. The company, which makes a variety of quirky analog and low-fi cameras, was anticipating some interest in the whimsical project but, perhaps, not this much interest.

"We definitely weren’t expecting the campaign to skyrocket like this," Angela Bilog, a Lomography spokesperson said in an email. "It’s great to see the worldwide support and interest gaged for film photography today."

Looking like something you'd find at a Steampunk convention, the brass Petzval will use a special, inserted Waterhouse diaphragm to change aperture. The new design has improved the aperture range of the original lens, which will run from f/2.2 to f/16. The manual 85mm lens will be offered in Nikon F and Canon EF mounts with a minimal focusing distance of one meter.


Petzval lenses are famed for being incredibly sharp at the center, while providing a unique, swirling bokeh around the edges. To recreate this, Lomography and their Russian manufacturing partners at Zenit went back to the original lens and reinvented the optic to recreate the look and feel of the original but designed for a modern digital or analog SLR. Check out some sample shots below.