Meyer-Optik Görlitz produces a wide range of vintage-inspired lenses in updated designs and solid builds, reminiscent of Zeiss or Voigtlander heavyweights. Cast in all-metal construction with few or no electronics, the lenses are built for picky, manual focus loving photographers who want something new with a flare of the odd.
I recently received a demo copy of the new Trimagon 95 to try out; a three element bokeh-crazy lens with a unique f/2.6 aperture and some kind of voodoo magic surprise built right in.
Let’s get that surprise out of the way. The first thing you’ll notice is the front element is coated in a deep purple hue. This does a few interesting things.
The wider an aperture you have, the further the focus distance to this coating is. That means that almost nothing happens at first, except a dreamy soft focus effect, more on that later. As soon as you closer down (further than f/5.6) you’ll notice that purple tint applying to certain portions of your image. It gets even crazier when you add in direct light sources that mix warm amber and deep purple. One can see how this lens would love a good sunset.
Want more or less color? Just open up or close down as you want to change the intensity. I found that images responded to color correction pretty well in post-processing too.
As for the soft focus feature, I wasn’t a huge fan, but I could see how lots of photographers would be for modeling shots or an easy vintage look. At f/2.6 is where this effect is most intense and again, goes away the further you stop down. Those with good eyes will also notice the circular distortion for bokeh the closer to the edges of your frame, another look some people crave from old-style lenses.
Overall sharpness was good, but not great (see the split image above for full resolution view). My thinking was that someone who buys a soft-focus lens isn’t looking for insane sharpness, so this is a pure balance here. For what it is, the lens performs really well.
A word of caution to those who aren’t used to manual focus on a ‘telephoto’ lens: practice! Shooting wide open can be difficult to nail focus, though once you do, pleasing results are had.
I’ll compare these to Zeiss or Voigtlander lenses, in term of build, simply because that was the first thing I thought and rightly impressed when taking the Trimagon out of the box.
All-metal and built like a tank, it feels like it could stand up to years of abuse. Lettering and markings are stamped in with an ink finish, so at least if that wears off, you still have physical indents to tell settings. The focus ring is stiff but buttery smooth and aperture is nearly the same, no clicks here (hint: video shooters!).
If I’m correct, there are no electronics to provide focus confirmation or aperture settings. I didn’t mind so much as I love to play with settings to get exposures the way I wanted. I also learned photography on all-manual lenses, so not having focus confirm was not a big deal.
The bottom line is that you’re getting a Zeiss-quality lens, handmade and all for roughly the same price. The Meyer-Optik website lists the Trimagon 95 at 1699 €, which means US shooters may pay around $1,900. Since the lens is only available through their website, you’ll just have to try it out for yourself.