The Petzval lens was developed in 1840. The brass fixture was pretty simple in design — especially compared to what’s available today — and its speed made it perfect for portrait shots. While it has been surpassed by many models after it and the digital revolution, Lomography has found a place for this oldie in today’s photo world… to the tune of over $1 million in donations to bring back the old.
So what does a lens from 1840 have to offer us now? Take one look at the results of this brass lens, and you’ll understand why some photographers still use some of the old models.
But Lomography has found a new crowdsourced way to raise awareness and funds to bring it back. The camera company recently launched a Kickstarter page to begin remaking this ancient relic for digital SLR cameras. The Kickstarter campaign currently has 11 days left and has raised $1,182,391 from 2,860 backers. Their goal was $100,000.
A New Market With this kind of a response, it begs the question — who’s pitching in? Where did this massive funding come from? Clearly Lomography has a sizable following based on their reaction from this project, but let’s think deeper. This kind of thing might catch on for other models and companies.
One of the most profitable e-deals in recent years involved the selling of a popular photo editing app, Instagram, to social media giant, Facebook. This merger solidified this trend’s potential, and Lomography’s Kickstarter campaign shows that it’s still growing strong.
Instagram appeals to anyone wanting to share photos, but specifically to those wanting to share photos that look like they were taken 50 years ago. The app’s photo filters allow the user to fake the look of an aged photo by accentuating colors or placing film borders around their iPhone snapshots. Why did this catch on? The same reason Lomography saw this as a viable crowdsourcing opportunity.
It’s true. Even I have gone the way of Instagram. (The evidence: http://instagram.com/amklann) The app has been really denounced by a lot of photographers, but the tide is turning, and some are realizing that for anyone wanting to share their views, it’s worth trying.
The Future of This Trend
It’s no doubt that with the success of Lomography’s Kickstarter campaign, this trend will continue. The big picture: this shows there is major interest in old film technology being brought to digital world.
A fellow photographer on Deviantart who shoots with some old equipment suggested that the Kodak Aero Ektar lenses could be next. Not only are they cheaper than the reproduced Petzvals, but they have many of the same beautiful features.
Hey, we can dream! All of the photographers who either (like me) came about after the digital shift and were either too cheap or too lazy to pick up the old ways, or those who gave up their film equipment during the transition are no doubt excited for this opportunity.
What old equipment are you dying to use with your digital SLR?