Review: Meyer-Optik Görlitz Trioplan 100mm lens

June 22nd 2019, 01:01 | Written by Konstantin Koll

I suffer from “Gear Acquisition Syndrome” and have recently purchased yet another vintage lens.

What happened so far

I own quite a collection of lenses by now, including a copy of the famous Helios 44-2 vintage lens which I have adapted to my Sony camera. I have bought another famous vintage lens, the Meyer-Optik Görlitz Trioplan 100mm f/2.8.

A Trioplan is a camera lens that contains three glas elements. This construction has been very popular in the first half of the 20th century, and eventually got replaced by more sophisticated lens designs with four (Tessar by Carl Zeiss) and even more glas elements. Compared with today's lenses and even lenses from the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, a Trioplan delivers quite poor image quality. So why the heck would I buy one today, let alone for some serious cash?

The reason is simple: Trioplan lenses manufactured by Meyer-Optik Görlitz have a construction flaw. Light spots in the bokeh are projected with an even lighter outer ring, giving them the look of a soap bubble. This effect cannot be replicated in post. The company Meyer-Optik is still around today, and has recently released a modernized version of their Trioplan 100mm f/2.8 lens for a whopping 1599€ because it is in such high demand for this effect. I purchased an original vintage copy in almost new condition for just under 400€.

Overview

This 100mm lens is the longest focal length I own, and thus the lens is quite large and heavy. It's made entirely of glas and aluminum; even the lens hood is a metal barrel that can be screwed on. Both the lens and the lens hood have a 49mm filter threading. That's the same diameter used by the SEL-50F18 OSS, my Sony 18-55mm kit lens and my Helios 44-2 vintage lens—so the ND filters that I own fit nicely.

The focus ring on this bad boy turns almost a full 360°, and I find it much easier to nail the focus than with the Helios 44-2 (where I still struggle) and the Samyang 85mm ED UMC CS lens.

Just like the Helios 44-2, this lens comes with an M42 mount. I bought an adapter to attach it to my Sony camera. This works great, because modern mirrorless cameras are much smaller than traditional film cameras, so an adapter can fit nicely between the lens and the camera body. Make sure to purchase one made of metal, though!

Image quality

I have used this lens twice now, and have been blown away. The soap bubble bokeh is just stunning, and cannot be replicated in post. The overall image quality is also sufficiently great, considering that this lens has been made in the 1950s. It's a bit soft, but that is just great for portraits and certain artistic shots. 100mm focal length delivers good image compression and some great background separation. You'll need a lot of distance when you take full body portraits, though, so communication with your model can become challenging.

Being manufactured in the 1950s, the glas elements of this lens are poorly coated compared to today's lenses. This creates a very appealing “glow” effect in areas with high contrast—something else I can hardly recreate in post, and something I really like for certain portraits. I'll definately use this lens more often in the future.

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