Update: Lomography's Kickstarter-funded Petzval lens now available for pre-order

Lomography has announced that the Petzval lens, funded to the tune of $1.3million on Kickstarter, is now available for pre-order

The new Petzval lenses on Canon and Nikon SLR cameras

Update 16/12/13:

Lomography's long-awaited Petzval lens is now available for pre-order. If you gave more than $300 to the Kickstarter campaign it should be on its way to you already, if not you can put your name down for one now for £549.

The Petzval lens is available in Nikon F and Canon EF fit. Don't get too excited yet though, as Lomography estimates that pre-orders won't be received until around May 2014.

Original Story 29/7/13:

There's retro, and there's nostalgia, and then there's this. Lo-fi camera production company Lomography has launched a crowdfunding Kickstarter project to reinvent a lens from the 19th Century.

The Petzval lens, named for its creator Joseph Petzval, is a portrait lens that enjoyed enormous popularity throughout the 1800s and helped shape the face of commercial photography as we know it today.

In order to fund a 21st Century reintroduction of this lens, Lomography has turned to Kickstarter, offering perks and rewards for donations that include not only delivery of the lens as soon as it is available but also name engravings and personalisation.


Image: The 19th Century model side by side with the sleek new 2013 version that has an increased maximum aperture. Source: Kickstarter

With an fully updated design for the lens that includes a maximum aperture increase from around f/3.5 to f/2.2, Lomography no doubt hopes to repeat the success Joseph Petzval enjoyed. The new Petzval lens will be available for Canon EF and Nikon F mounts on Analogue and Digital SLR cameras.

While most lenses are designed to narrow field curvature, the Petzval is deliberately engineered to do the opposite, creating artfully stylised images with sharp subjects against blurred backgrounds.

‘Photos shot with a Petzval lens are immediately recognizable for their sharpness and crispness, strong color saturation, wonderful swirly bokeh effect, artful vignettes and narrow depth of field,' Lomography says on its Kickstarter page.

At the time of writing, the firm has twenty-six days left to secure its funding, and has already made its $100,000 goal eight times. So it seems safe to say that the company's stated goal of having the first 1000 lenses shipped out by December 2013 should become a reality.

You can still donate at the Kickstarter page to be eligible for the perks and awards, or to put your name down for one of the lenses. The retail launch price of the lens is currently planned as $499/€499 (about £325).

So, what do you think? A creative way to do something different with your images, or a dismissal of more than a hundred years of refinement in optic techology?

Watch the video below to find out more: