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Lomography raises more than $1M for production of New Petzval lenses

By dpreview staff on Aug 8, 2013 at 18:49 GMT

We've previously reported on Lomography's attempt to crowd-source funding to bring the centuries-old Petzval lens back into production via Kickstarter and it seems like they've done well, raising more than $1 million, which is more then ten times their original target of $100,000.

The 'New Petzval' lenses look and function much like the originals with a brass exterior, and the aim is to produce it in both Canon EF- and Nikon F- mounts. The lens is expected to be available next spring. 

With brass lens barrels and hoods, Lomography's New Petzval lens will be sold for Canon and Nikon SLRs.

Why bring back the Petzval? Lomography is promoting the way the swirled bokeh it creates draws focus to the center of the frame, the only part of the image in sharp focus. Petzval lenses of yore were notable for having the widest apertures available at the time, speeding up the amount of time required to create a Daguerrotype from 10 minutes to 30 seconds.

A cynic's view might be that Lomography is trying to push the rejection of 173 years of lens development and improvement as a creative choice, rather than marketing-driven ludditism.

The New Petzval lenses incorporate some modern design updates, starting with a larger f/2.2 maximum aperture. The aperture can be changed using the included set of diaphragms (known as Waterhouse stops) to achieve different stops. Zenit, a lens producer based in Russia, has partnered with Lomography to produce the lenses.

The New Petzvals are planned to launch at $499. The campaign continues, and if you contribute to Lomography's Kickstarter a new-old Petzval can be yours for a mere $300 pledge when they start shipping. 

Video

Via: techgoondu, Source: Kickstarter

Comments

Total comments: 51
Francis Carver
By Francis Carver (8 months ago)

This is a LENS???

1 upvote
Petrogel
By Petrogel (8 months ago)

Originally was designed as a scuttle for boats ;-)

0 upvotes
jwkphoto
By jwkphoto (8 months ago)

I have two Lensbaby lenses I bought nine years ago. I never got the look I wanted. In Jan. 2006 I was looking around a dollar store and I came across some magnifying lenses that were made of plate glass, 60mm Di. and 200mm FL. I bought two of them and went to an auto parts store, bought a generic rack and pinion boot that look like a very large Lensbaby tube. I took the two lenses and squeezed them into tube, stuck a T-mount adaptor in the other end making a 100mm F2 lens.

Twenty years ago, I was at a telescope making convention, Stelaphane, and bought an iris diagram for 5 bucks. It was used on the front of a telescope to stop down the lens. I used it for burning in prints for many years in the darkroom. This thing fitted perfectly on the front of my homemade Lensbaby. From it I could adjust the lens from F2 to F8. The more I stopped down, the sharper the lens became.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 3 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
jwkphoto
By jwkphoto (8 months ago)

When used wide open to F2.8 I get the most wonderful blur and when I twist the lens like the LB lens it changes the the way light goes through the two lenses giving even more distortion. I get all kinds of color fringing and when converted to B&W I get the most wonderful bokah I've seen. All of this for an investment of $25.

2 upvotes
tripodfan
By tripodfan (8 months ago)

nice. care to share samples anywhere?

0 upvotes
fotonix
By fotonix (8 months ago)

This looks to be so cool! Modernizing the ancient classics. Hahaha try this for your smartphone 'camera' :)

0 upvotes
Ferling
By Ferling (8 months ago)

Half the fun of using these old lenses is in the fact that they are both original and old. Zenit also brought back the Helios 40 85mm f1.5. However they are essentially the same build and coatings of the originals built prior to '92. That said, with these new Petzvals having their optics modified to work with smaller formats essentially makes them different from the originals, correct?

I've bought a good deal of cheap vintage lenses on eBay, and from the junk I have about 30 unique pieces worthy in their own right, (and writing a few reviews of my own findings). My personal favorite is a 135mm f4 Carl Zeiss Jena Triotar, built in 1950. A simple triplet design in an aluminum tube. With proper handling (which makes using fun), it produces exceptional images.

Again. Having something 'original', even though it costs me $27, is a value that cannot be replaced by reproduction.

My guess is that some are betting on a limited production run to create something of a rare toy.

1 upvote
Holger Drallmeyer
By Holger Drallmeyer (8 months ago)

Just get a freaking Wet Plate camera and come all over the tin.

1 upvote
Becksvart
By Becksvart (8 months ago)

"$400,000 - We will send every backer a unique cotton bag to store your Petzval lens and other goodies in whilst on-the-go."

Yeah, anyway, I look forward to reviews pitting it against the Jupiter 9 and other things that cost nowhere near USD500. All a bit optically flawed, only one can give you a unique cotton bag to store your characterful lens and other goodies in whilst on-the-go.

0 upvotes
///M
By ///M (8 months ago)

I have some movie lenses adapted to micro 4/3 camera that do some interesting OOF areas, but they cost no more then $25, and are very compact) Was that a Hasselblad I saw w/ one of these on it?

Comment edited 5 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
samhain
By samhain (8 months ago)

Nice video!
Yeah... I want one.

0 upvotes
SeeRoy
By SeeRoy (8 months ago)

Good to know that the perpetrators of this project immediately identified the most appropriate lens (or perhaps I should say "lense") manufacturer for this premium product: Zenitar. No one could possibly argue that they are not the No. 1 lense manufacturer in Krasnogorsk. As the delirious owner of one of their "legendary" 15mm Fish-eyes I can confirm that this new, must-have, pre-brassed, er, lense, is likely to share the FE's "stellar" performance - in the sense of stars flatteringly bokeh-d by a miasma of industrial atmospheric pollution.
Sadly I've become too impoverished to "invest" in a Pestsval lense however I continue to enjoy the benefits of my little Krasnogorski which, even as I write these words, sits next to me on the floor, holding the door open (at F8.)
Edit.
Let's hope that they pay sufficient attention to the "unboxing experience". My 15 FE came with a little sump-oil in the box. I assume this was intended for long term maintenance however it made the box a bit squishy.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 5 minutes after posting
4 upvotes
Rorus
By Rorus (8 months ago)

Have you ever heard of Lensbaby lens? Existing, creative, cheap...

0 upvotes
stevens37y
By stevens37y (8 months ago)

You get soon 1000000000* photos on the web with the same look and feel:)

1 upvote
Jonne Ollakka
By Jonne Ollakka (8 months ago)

Yeah, the internet will suddenly flood with photos that look the same. All I can think of is Picard facepalm.

0 upvotes
EXX
By EXX (8 months ago)

Why only Canon EF- and Nikon F- mount, and no Pentax and Sony A-mount? Not a smart thing to do, exluding a number of potential customers for no good reason.

0 upvotes
RDMPhotos
By RDMPhotos (8 months ago)

They are complete morons to not just make it in one mount. A T-mount, so anyone can use it .

1 upvote
coudet
By coudet (8 months ago)

Price will be the killer. I can get a lens with swirly bokeh for $5.

Comment edited 13 seconds after posting
2 upvotes
3dreal
By 3dreal (8 months ago)

AF-which is not very suitable for this lens, isnt it?

Comment edited 17 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
3dreal
By 3dreal (8 months ago)

as i said. must be available with universal t2-adapter-mount. we could then mount it on contax ax and have AF!

1 upvote
Mrrowe8
By Mrrowe8 (8 months ago)

I will get one , i 'm not a hipster or fade person just a guy with 20 yrs of real photo experience in msking selling images and teaching at a college level and see it as one more tool to use to create interesting images ..that's it .. At a certain point it's not about F stops or sharp focus or whether looks weird or not .. It's about can it help Me achieve a look I want and think it will so I 'm in ..

4 upvotes
Vadimka
By Vadimka (8 months ago)

Krasnogorsk is not what it was in the past. Everything has been sold or stollen in the past 15 years. If you really want good piece of Russian glass it has to be from 50-80s era. For this money you can have solid piece of Lomo Cine OKC glass like 75/2 or 100/2, slap on a focusing helicoid and have yourself a gorgeous state of the art Double Gauss lens with beautiful bokeh.

Comment edited 4 minutes after posting
1 upvote
nblaney
By nblaney (8 months ago)

I look forward to picking one of these up for next to nothing on ebay after most people have tried it and gotten bored with it. I think $175 is the right price point for this interesting but over-priced novelty.

4 upvotes
billybones1918
By billybones1918 (8 months ago)

I'm getting one because they're made in Krasnogorsk

1 upvote
Don Kiyoti
By Don Kiyoti (8 months ago)

Sooo funny, all the comments by people who cannot possibly imagine why someone else might want to make or have a brass Petzval lens! "But it looks wierd!" "But the bokeh is bad!" "But it's for hipsters!" Good grief, people - at least TRY to have an open mind. If you can't do that, I guess go back to shooting your beach sunsets, flowers, bugs, and empty park benches.

8 upvotes
Soggoth
By Soggoth (8 months ago)

Anyone else who thinks that brass barrel looks really weird with modern DSLRs?

5 upvotes
Northgrove
By Northgrove (8 months ago)

Nah, they blend right in with the camera body. I'm not sure what you're suggesting!

5 upvotes
Petrogel
By Petrogel (8 months ago)

Not weird, ridiculous

4 upvotes
Lucas_
By Lucas_ (8 months ago)

Well, if it looks bad, suit it with a mate black sticker!

0 upvotes
taffytubby
By taffytubby (8 months ago)

I'm sure this will be popular with some photographers, but for the majority it'll be an irrelevance. I love looking at old photographs because they mark an era of discovery and innovation. However, photography is where it is now by a consensus of generations of photographers demanding better imaging products that give the results they want. The bokeh is pretty grim, the 'super sharp centre' did not make itself apparent in the video and the smug presentation makes me want to vomit. Each to their own i say, but I'll be sticking with 21st. century gear. I hope Zenit do well out of this.

1 upvote
bronxbombers4
By bronxbombers4 (8 months ago)

Bokeh looks absolutely horrendously hurtful to the eyes to me. YUCK! Sort of like the bokeh you get from the Canon 135L at f/2.... after you drop 3 times, hit it with a sledge hammer, and put it in a glass furnace for 30 seconds and partially melt a few elements. :) But to each their own.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
6 upvotes
bobestremera
By bobestremera (8 months ago)

Never mind. I see it's 85mm.

0 upvotes
bobestremera
By bobestremera (8 months ago)

Did I miss the focal length? Anybody know what it is?

0 upvotes
colorblinded
By colorblinded (8 months ago)

I like the idea of this, I would love to get one, but I'm not falling for the whole romanticism of the original lens. Give me the same thing with a modern focusing and aperture mechanism and I'd probably consider one at $300. It may look like and work like something from the era, but I don't consider than an advantage or a necessity in a new lens.

0 upvotes
Benarm
By Benarm (8 months ago)

Looks like another fad, hyped up by hipsters. Just use Alien Skin Bokeh 2 for all your fancy bokeh needs. :)

4 upvotes
bronxbombers4
By bronxbombers4 (8 months ago)

or, to replicate this scenario, simply drop your lens off the roof a few times ;)

that should, perhaps, make the bokeh as ugly and harsh, with luck

0 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (8 months ago)

as always, best customers are those who have no knowledge.
a pain in the face for Canon/Nikon professional services.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 1 minute after posting
0 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (8 months ago)

beautiful. I'd like to make some lights in a similar design.

1 upvote
Frank_BR
By Frank_BR (8 months ago)

"… raising more than $1 million, which is more then ten times their original target of $100,000."

Money is, at the same time, the scarcest and the most abundant resource in the world.

0 upvotes
tkbslc
By tkbslc (8 months ago)

If everyone on the internet donated you a penny, you'd have about 24 million. Power in numbers.

Comment edited 42 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
tkbslc
By tkbslc (8 months ago)

This seems like a killer deal. You get the public the pay your production costs, and then you get them to pay for the product. I need to find a business idea to take advantage of this. If you played it right, it could be 100% profits.

0 upvotes
audijam
By audijam (8 months ago)

I highly doubt it they will make a good profit out of this deal otherwise investment bankers already jumped in. If they could make about 10% profit they should be laughing....

2 upvotes
tkbslc
By tkbslc (8 months ago)

But they got FREE money to cover production. Are you implying that $1000000 will only cover 1/9 the cost?

0 upvotes
pierpa
By pierpa (8 months ago)

x

Comment edited 42 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
joejack951
By joejack951 (8 months ago)

The public? No, there are apparently quite a few interested buyers who have put up money to fund the project in exchange for an actual product. Lomography still needs to deliver that product before they can consider that they've made any profit. Yes, crowd funding reduces some of the risk of launching new products (in that you know you have some buyers out there) but it does not make it any easier to launch a successful product. Also, the upfront development and promotional costs are still all born by the company. You can't have a Kickstarter campaign around a napkin sketch.

3 upvotes
audijam
By audijam (8 months ago)

is this lens even patented? if not....i think i will see it on ebay auction very soon (if lomo can sell this). Item location, Shenzhen, China or Hong Kong, China....LOL!!! costs me $50 + free shipping and maybe a lens bag and lens cap says Canon/Nikon depends on the mount.

0 upvotes
JordanAT
By JordanAT (8 months ago)

From a production perspective, it is very close to ideal. You create a prototype and nail down your production costs. Price up the smallest efficient run (say, 300) have a guaranteed pre-order of that amount. It covers basic materials and tooling. After you hit that, you're into profit on each lens. For every 2-4 pre-orders over the base, you can produce an additional for retail sale without being out of pocket.

Honestly, at this point - if I were them - I'd produce at most an extra 100. They've got enough pre-orders and guaranteed money to fill a pretty large chunk of the market, and pocket a tidy sum for their work. Do the run, make the few extras for stragglers, and pack it in. At least, that's what I'd do.

0 upvotes
semorg
By semorg (8 months ago)

Mind you, initially they were hoping to raise $100,000.
So the good news is that they got enough money to manufacture these things. The bad news is they'll probably wont meet the demands and those who are not in the first 100-200 will have to a wait for a long time or live with some shoddy quality stuff.

0 upvotes
joejack951
By joejack951 (8 months ago)

And how did you conclude that? Do you know the capacity of all their vendors or something that the rest of us don't?

1 upvote
jeffcpix
By jeffcpix (8 months ago)

You can fool some of the people all of the time.
But there's one upside -- at least it's not being
developed using tax money by the Defense Department.

If it were such a wonderful idea, the Chinese/Koreans would
have made these with T-mounts, barrel controlled f-stops,
helical focusing and sold them for less than $99 dollars delivered. Look how much CAT 500mm lenses are selling for on ebay -- amazing that anyone would think that this paperweight would cost more to produce.
And wait until they learn what a 'waterhouse stop' is.

1 upvote
GeorgeD200
By GeorgeD200 (8 months ago)

Some of us do know what waterhouse stops are, but I didn't pony up my $400 to shoot this at f8. I expect I'll be using it wide open. I like the idea of it. If they're total crap, I'll still be able to unload it on eBay for 75-80% of my cost. And $400 doesn't buy a lot of camera equipment anyway. What else could I get, a 50mm f1.4? A stabilized 70-300mm f4-5.6? An average wide-angle f3.5-5.6 zoom? Half of an 18-200mm VR? If these were $800, I'd agree with you, but $400 for an 85mm portrait lens is pretty cheap.

0 upvotes
Total comments: 51