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.

Product Review

Nifty fifty: Nikon's Z 50mm f/1.8 S shows sharp potential for Z mount

While not nearly as cheap as its DSLR counterpart, the Nikkor Z 50mm f/1.8 S shows the potential for Nikon's new mirrorless Z-mount with excellent sharpness.
Social Media

Instagram purges fake followers, likes, and comments generated from other apps

Instagram looking a little more authentic? You can thank machine learning. A new tool is helping Instagram spot followers, likes and comments generated from third-party apps -- and this is just the start.
Product Review

Nikkor 105mm f/1.4 may be a beast in size, but its images are absolute beauty

There’s no such thing as a perfect lens, but the Nikkor 105mm f/1.4E ED comes incredibly close. The original 105mm f/1.4 delivers exceptional quality, albeit in a bulky package.

Cyber Monday 2018: When it takes place and where to find the best deals

Cyber Monday is still a ways off, but it's never too early to start planning ahead. With so many different deals to choose from during one of the biggest shopping holidays of the year, going in with a little know-how makes all the…

Deluxe D-Lux: New Leica compact camera adds quality and luxury

Essentially a rehoused Panasonic Lumix LX100 II, the D-Lux 7 adds Leica styling -- and price -- to Panasonic tech. The camera retains much from its predecessor, but brings some needed updates and refinements.
Emerging Tech

The best drone photos from around the world

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.

Open wide: LG G7 ThinQ vs. Huawei Mate 20 Pro vs. Asus ROG Phone

The Huawei Mate 20 Pro has swapped the monochrome sensor on its camera for a wide-angle lens, so how does it compare to the LG G7 ThinQ, and the surprisingly strong challenge from the Asus ROG Phone?

Dual cameras for Spectacles 3? Report suggests Snap-designed glasses with AR

Despite underselling the first generation, Snap Inc. isn't done with camera glasses yet. According to a recent report, the company is rumored to be working on another Snap Spectacles with dual cameras for augmented reality features.

The best budget-friendly GoPro alternatives that won’t leave you broke

Cold weather is here, and a good action camera is the perfect way to record all your adventures. You don't need to shell out the big bucks for a GoPro: Check out these great GoPro alternatives, including some 4K cameras, that won’t leave…

The best Black Friday camera deals will save you up to $1,000 off

This year's Black Friday camera deals see impressive savings on high-end gear that can save you some real money. If you've been holding off on buying a new DSLR or mirrorless camera, your patience has just been rewarded.

DJI’s Ronin-S just got more capable with slew of new accessories

Need a longer battery life for the DJI Ronin-S, or perhaps a built-in screen, GPS, or universal mount? DJI has got you covered with a handful of new accessories for the company's one-hand gimbal.

Black Friday 2018: Best deals at Walmart, Amazon, Best Buy and more

Amazon, Walmart, and Best Buy are offering the best online Black Friday deals, and we've worked hard gathering all of those sweet savings into one convenient location. Get them before their gone!