Forget Instagram Filters: Snap A 1840s Lens Onto Your Digital Camera Instead

Lomography, the trend of using outmoded and highly imperfect film cameras to create unique photos, is definitely behind the popularity of Instagram’s old-fashioned filters. Now has launched a hardware project on Kickstarter that’s going to stitch together 19th-century lens technology and modern digital SLR cameras. It’s called the Petzval portrait lens.

According to the details on the project, most photos taken in the 19th century were taken using lenses designed like the Petzval, which was breakthrough when it was introduced in 1840 by inventor and math professor Joseph Petzval. This lens was better than the lenses used by the inventors of the original Daguerre & Giroux camera.

By modern standards the Petzval lens is imperfect in many ways, including its narrow depth of field. But the lens does have exactly right amount of aesthetic blur Instagrammers love, and the images are uniquely haunting. All of this means the Petzval lends itself very well to portraits, hence the plan to re-engineer the Petzval design and release a modern version that can snap onto modern DSLR cameras made by Canon and Nikon.

Photography technology is evolving quickly at the moment, with innovations like the no-focus Lytro camera and the Planar lens technology that may make future devices see better than ever. Nokia’s even leveraging top-rank photo tech as a unique offering to distinguish its smartphones in a crowded market. These developments would boggle the 19th-century photography pioneers.KE