Lomography and Zenit have combined to resurrect an 85mm art lens from 1840. Jon Devo tests out its unique properties

Lomography-Petzval-Art-LensLomography Petzval Art lens at a glance:

  • Classically styled with brass metal construction based on 1840 lens design
  • Canon EF and Nikon F mounts available, compatible with film and digital cameras
  • Unique swirly bokeh effect
  • Price: £459 (Brass)
  • Website: www.shop.lomography.com

Constructed from brass and glass, the special properties of the Petzval Art lens enable photographers and filmmakers to capture images with a truly unique look. Subjects or focal points in the centre of the lens appear in focus, while the out-of-focus areas have a dreamlike, swirling quality to them. This effect is most pronounced when using a wide aperture to create a shallow depth of field.

As there are no electronic contacts in the Petzval lens, the aperture setting must be changed manually using Waterhouse aperture plates. A set of regular circular f/2.2 to f/16 plates are provided in the box, while additional creative sets can be bought directly from Lomography – or you can make your own.

The Petzval has an image circle of 44mm and a 30° field of view, which is most suitable for full-frame sensors. Out-of-focus highlights in images, known as bokeh, mimic the design of the aperture plate, so if you create a heart-shaped plate, for example, your bokeh will be rendered as hearts. Focusing must also be performed manually using the Petzval’s focusing wheel, which has a smooth turning function, although it can be a little tough to know exactly when your focus is spot on.

Lomography Petzval Art lens – key features

Lomography-Petzval-Art-lens-portrait-shotPortrait

The 85mm focal length, minimum focusing distance of 1m and swirling background effects make the lens ideal for taking portraits.

Vintage design

Lomography and Zenit have combined to create this new brass Petzval Art lens, based on a design created in Vienna, Austria, in 1840.

Manual control

There are no electronic contacts or mechanisms inside the Petzval lens, so aperture and focusing must be changed manually.

Lomography-Petzval-apperture-plates

Lomography Petzval Art lens – verdict

At its release price of £459 (or £549 for the black version), this lens will appeal to a limited audience. That said, if you can afford it, this is a unique lens that creates some great effects and is fun to use.

SCORE: 3.5 out of 5