Lomography has just launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund the manufacturing of their new Petzval 58mm lens. The Petzval lens is based on a 170 year old design and it produces a super soft bokeh (blur) effect. The lens is totally manual which means you have to set the pace of your of photography a little slower and in the digital instant age that’s always a good thing. The 58mm Petzval is compatible with Nikon and Canon DSLR mounts as well as some Sony, Olympus and a few other mirrorless cameras.
At the start of this year I was given the opportunity to shoot with one of a few prototype Petzvals and I must admit I thought it was a great lens; you may notice some of my images on the Petzval 58mm Kickstarter page. This is a review of sorts but you must bear in mind I was using a prototype. All the photos on this page where shot with Petzval 58mm and Canon 5D mark 3.
At the end of 2014 I reviewed the 85mm Petzval which is the first version of the modern Petzval and I got great results. Because of the 85mm focal length I found it a bit tricky for portraiture as you have to put a little distance between you and your subject. The new lens has a focal length of 58mm which makes it much easier to get up close and personal with your subjects. Like the older Petzval you can change the aperture by physically adding and removing aperture rings, unfortunately when I borrowed the prototype I did not have rings so all my images are shot at f/1.9.
Apart from the shorter focal distance what really sets this lens apart from the previous version is the ability to change the bokeh / blur pattern. The Petzval is known for its spherical blurring pattern and with the 58mm version you can change how spherical that pattern is with the new bokeh dial. As it’s a totally manual lens I can’t say what the bokeh control dial was set to for each of my photos as there is no EXIF data but while shooting I found myself tweaking the bokeh dial to achieve different results each time.
If you hurry to the Petzval Kickstarter page you can get the lens for $450 which is steal, unfortunately in the time it’s taken me to write this blog post the $350 super early bird lenses have all gone and they have already hit their funding target. Hurry hurry if want this at a good price!