Petzval lens

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Petzval portrait lens.
Petzval type movie projection lens.
Petzval objectives.

The Petzval lens was developed in 1840 by Joseph Petzval. It consisted of two doublet lenses with an aperture stop in between. The front lens is well corrected for spherical aberrations but introduces coma. The second doublet corrects for this and the position of the stop corrects most of the astigmatism. However, this results in additional field curvature and vignetting. The total field of view is therefore restricted to about 30 degrees. An f-number of f/3.7 was achievable, which was considerably faster than other lenses of the time.

The speed of the lens is ideal for portrait photography since the exposure time could be reduced.

In 2013 Lomography successfully launched a crowdfunding campaign at to produce a new Petzval lens in Russia for film and digital cameras.[1]

An example of a portrait photo (of Katherine Maher) taken with a Lomography Petzval lens. Note the 'swirly' bokeh.


Ray, Sidney (2002). Applied Photographic Optics. Oxford, UK: Focal Press. ISBN 0-240-51540-4.