Sunday, March 1, 2015


Every once in a while we come across lenses from manufacturers other than Leica which are of definite interest and well worth their use on Leica cameras.  One such lens is the new Petzval lens from Lomography.

The Petzval name is one of the most famous in the history of optics and the development photographic lenses.  It was first introduced in 1840 by Joseph Petzval, a Hungarian mathematician, inventor, and physicist best known for his work in optics.  Photography was just in its infancy, with photographic materials and lenses being very slow.  Especially portraiture was difficult because lenses were essentially too slow in those days.

Petzval set out to overcome that problem by designing a much faster lens.  When he designed his famous portrait lens in 1840, it constituted a quantum leap in optical design.  The lens had the unheard of aperture of f/3.6.  Petzval's portrait objective lens (Petzval Porträtobjektiv) was an almost distortionless anachromatischer Vierlinser (double achromatic objective lens, with four lenses in three groups). The maximum aperture was substantially higher than the Daguerre standard of 1839, the Wollaston Chevalier lens with a maximum aperture of f/16. The speed of f/3.6 with a focal length of 160 mm made crucially shorter exposure times possible — using exposures of only about 15 to 30 seconds compared to the 10 minutes previously. Thus, snapshots became possible for the first time.


Petzval allowed the Viennese entrepreneur Peter Wilhelm Friedrich von Voigtländer to produce the lens for a one-time payment of 2,000 guldens, without a patent or a contract, which later led to a lasting controversy between Petzval and Voigtländer. Voigtländer, who had confirmed the design of the lens through his own calculations, produced a prototype, and in May 1840 he began production of the lens for the daguerreotype cameras in 1841, making a fortune in the process.

Now Lomography is resurrecting this lens in partnership with Zenit of Kranogorsk, Russia.  The New Petzval Lenses will be manufactured by a team of optics specialists at the Zenit factory. They are built from brass and feature premium glass optics.

Photos shot with a Petzval lens are immediately recognizable for their super-sharp focus and wonderful swirly bokeh effect at the non-focused areas, including strong color saturation, artful vignettes and narrow depth of field.

The new lens will have a focal length of 85mm with a maximum aperture of f/2.3.  Apertures will be set via Waterhouse stops down to f/16.  The image circle has a diameter of 44mm with a field of view of 30degrees.  The closest focusing distance is 1 meter.

The lens is right now being made available for Canon EF and Nikon F DSLR mount cameras.  Either one of these will allow use on the Leica M and Leica Digilux 3 with an adapter and thus constitutes a welcome addition to these cameras.




The original Petzval lens (left) and the new version

For more information go to:



For more information click here



No comments:

Post a Comment