Lomography’s New Petzval 58 lens can create 7 levels of creative blurring

Photography may have gone digital, but, judging from the success of Lomography’s new Petzval 58 lens, there are still a lot of die-hard analog fans out there. With this new lens, designed for Canon and Nikon DSLRs, it’s all about the bokeh, that wonderful blurred background technique that makes photos look dreamy.

Like the first Petzval lens Lomo introduced (which was also a hit), the New Petzval 58 Bokeh Control Art Lens (the “new” designates that these are newly developed lenses based on old ones) has shattered its $100,000 Kickstarter goal, with (at time of writing) $868,327 pledged from 1,637 backers. There are three days left in the campaign, and it’ll cost at least $525 to be one of the first adopters. It might seem like a high price for a specialty lens that doesn’t auto-focus, but obviously not everyone agrees.

The 58mm lens has a maximum aperture of f/1.9 (up to f/16, thanks to seven aperture plates). Lomo says the 58mm focal point is more than suitable for portraits and landscapes, and an all-around good focal length for multiple types of photography – weddings, fashion shoots, street photography, architecture, landscapes, etc. It’s fully manual, and the amount of bokeh can be adjusted using a seven-step control ring, which Lomo says has never been possible before. It lets you create minimal shallow depth of field to maximum swirls in the background, while keeping your subject or object clearly in focus. And here’s the thing: you can use it for video, not just photos.

The New Petzval 58 lets you control up to seven instances of bokeh. (Credit: Lomography)

“In the past, the Petzval’s swirly bokeh effect has always been strongly dependent on factors such as the types of backgrounds you shoot against and the distance between you and your subject,” Lomo writes in its Kickstarter page. “So, in the two years since we first invented the Lomography New Petzval 85mm Art Lens, we’ve had plenty of time to mull over a different approach that would allow us to determine the strength of the swirly bokeh effect in our Petzval shots.”

To create the lens, the engineers at the Zenit factory in Russia had to develop new optical calculations to work with the current generation of DSLRs, including those with APS-C sensors. The Petzval 58, based on Russian optics and glass technologies, will work with analog or digital cameras, and is compatible with Canon EF and Nikon F mounts. With adapter mounts, the lens can be used with cameras from Sony, Fujifilm, Panasonic, and Olympus. Available in black finish or brass, the Petzval features handmade construction. (If you want to geek out, Lomo has an extensive description of the lens’ construction and other details on its Kickstarter page.)

Technicians at the Zenit Labs in Russia, where the New Petzval 58 is made.
Technicians at the Zenit Labs in Russia, where the New Petzval 58 is made. Credit: Lomography

With its successful funding, Lomo has been able to add several stretch goals, including a set of commemorative prints, four special shaped aperture plates, and ND or UV filter. If Lomo hits $900,000 before the campaign ends on Friday, June 26, it will develop a premium leather pouch for the lens.

Want to know what it’s like to use the lens? Lomo has an interview Geoffrey Berliner, executive director of the Penumbra Foundation non-profit photographic arts and education organization and a collector of Petzval lenses.

Photography

Authentic, holistic, retro photography is in: Here are 2019’s predicted trends

What types of imagery are we most drawn to? According to recent stock photography data from Adobe, StoryBlocks, and Shutterstock, authentic, holistic, and humanitarian content will be in high demand in 2019.
Photography

Photography news: Careful, self-driving cars can ruin your camera sensor

In this week's photography news, learn how self-driving cars destroyed a digital camera via lasers. Find out how many patents Canon filed for in 2018. Read about what Tamron lenses are available for the Nikon Z6.
Photography

Olympus teaser shares glimpse of OM-D camera that’s good for more than sports

Is Olympus about to release a new mirrorless camera geared toward sports photographers? The latest teaser offers a glimpse of an upcoming OM-D camera set to launch on January 24, and by the looks of the teasers, it's capable for landscapes…
Photography

With 5-stop optical stabilization, Fujifilm GF 100-200mm is ready for adventure

Fujifilm revealed a new lens designed to deliver on the GFX system's promise of adventure-ready medium-format photography. The GF 100-200mm F5.6 R is a weather resistant, relatively lightweight, 2x telephoto with impressive stabilization.
Photography

The best mirrorless cameras pack all the power of a DSLR, minus the bulk

Mirrorless cameras offer a lot of photography firepower, inside a compact body. Explore the best mirrorless cameras, from the pro-level to the beginner-friendly shooters, in this guide.
Photography

Starting your very own vlog? Here are the best cameras to buy

Any camera that shoots video can be used to vlog, but a few models stand out from the crowd thanks to superior image quality, ergonomics, and usability. When it comes to putting your life on YouTube, here are the best cameras for the job.
Photography

This A.I.-powered camera follows the action to produce epic selfie videos

Want to capture more epic action selfies? The Obsbot Tail is a camera-gimbal combo that uses artificial intelligence to follow the action. Using a handful of different modes, the camera works to keep the action in the frame.
Photography

Sony crams its best camera tech into the new $900 A6400

Love Sony's autofocus, but can't stomach the full-frame price? The Sony A6400 mirrorless camera uses some of the same autofocus technology and the processor of the A9 in a compact, more affordable crop-sensor camera.
Photography

These point-and-shoot cameras make your smartphone pics look like cave paintings

If your smartphone camera just isn't giving you the results you're looking for, maybe it's time to step up your game. The latest and greatest point-and-shoot cameras offer large sensors, tough bodies, and long lenses -- something no phone…
Photography

GoPro bumps resolution on Fusion 360 cam to 5.6K with new firmware

Currently available in public beta, Fusion firmware version 2.0 offers a new 5.8K mode that results in 5.6K output when the 360 camera's two hemispheres are stitched together. It also adds support for 24 fps video and RAW time-lapse…
Photography

Nikon A1000, B600 pack big zooms into compact, budget-friendly cameras

The new Nikon Coolpix A1000 packs in a 35x zoom lens, 4K video, and an optical viewfinder, while Nikon's B600 brings a 60x zoom lens to the table. The cameras are modest updates to Nikon's budget-friendly zoom models.
Social Media

Nearly a million Facebook users followed these fake Russian accounts

Facebook purged two separate groups behind more than 500 fake accounts with Russian ties. One group had ties to Russian news agency Sputnik, while the other had behavior similar to the Internet Research Agency's midterm actions.
Photography

From DIY to AAA, here's how to take a passport photo in 6 different ways

If you're applying for a passport or renewing one, you need to submit a photo in your official application. There are strict guidelines, but fortunately, it's something you can do at home. Here's how to take a passport photo.
Emerging Tech

The best drone photos from around the world will take your breath away

Most of today's drones come equipped with high-end cameras, which are quickly revolutionizing the world of aerial photography as we know it. Here are some of the best drone photos from around the world.