At some point in the recent past, Lomo went from being the resurrector of crappy Soviet-era plastic cameras to a niche manufacturer of some very interesting lo-fi photography kit. Today’s surprise is that Lomo will be making the Petzval lens, a lens invented in 1840 in – yes – Russia.
The new Petzval lens will be made to fit Canon and Nikon bodies, and has been given multi-coatings on its optics to avoid the weird color shifts that nobody cared about back when all photos were black & white.
The obvious feature is the brass body, but there’s more to this 85mm lens than that. The lens has a maximum aperture of ƒ2, perfect for today’s love of shallow depth-of-field. The design also gives some crazy swirly out-of-focus highlights (aka bokeh) and will vignette the photos as if you’d already run them through Hipstamatic.
Focusing is by rack and gear, which means you turn a knob on the side instead of twisting a ring on the barrel, and there’s even a (67mm) filer thread. Finally, you need to swap in different-sized rings to change the aperture – no easy-to-use iris here.
I think it’s pretty great that Lomo is moving away from just film (which is a real pain to use) and mixing digital with old-school tech. The only kicker might be the price: The Petzval Kickstarter campaign (yeah, I know) starts at $300, but is sold out at most price levels already, so it looks like you’ll have to wait and pay maybe $500 when it ships next year.
Or I guess you could trawl old antique camera stores for an original Petzval lens. Good luck!