Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Meyer-Optik Gorlitz Primoplan 58mm f1.9 M42 Mount

My first Meyer-Optik lens was 50mm f2.8 Domiplan with a Tessar design. It didn't have a manual A/V switch and I didn't have an adpater that worked with it, so never really used it. Then at the extreme end, I got a monstrous Meyer-Optik 400mm f5.5 Telemegor, which I used a few times and enjoy its unique qualities. In the previous camera shows, I got a couple of Primoplan 58mm f1.9 V in M42 mount.

From what I can tell, the Primoplan 58mm f1.9 seems to be well liked by many. Not the most common lens in the used market, but definitely not rare or even hard to find. These lenses have some common problems.

One is the coating. If you clean your lens with lens paper or fiber cloth, and do it hard enough, the coating will come off. It could also come off by itself. One of my Primoplans suffers from the coating problem.

The other is dust inside lens. This is not particular to this lens, but is common to all old lenses. In most cases, some dust does not affect the image quality, unless there is a layer of very fine dust that make the lens look hazy. This haze will reduce sharpness, contrast and flare resistance. The lens needs to be cleaned if it has a hazy coating.

Yet one more common issue is stiff focusing. This happens when the grease that lubricates the focusing mechanism has dried up, making focusing stiff, or rough and uneven. For this, you need to take the lens apart and clean/re-lube it.

There is much to like about the Primoplan. Like the 400mm f5.5 Telemegor, it has a painterly effect on pictures at wide apertures. It's soft and sharp at the same time. I would imagine this lens is perfect for portraiture. Got to try it later. The bokeh is different from most lenses I have used. Many also like the swirling effect when pictures are shot wide open.

The sad fact is that this lens does not work at infinity with the 5D. The butt hits the 5D's mirror at infinity, but works fine on non-full frame bodies.

In all, a very inexpensive (around $25) lens that offers some unique qualities. Be sure not to pass on it if you see one at low price. You won't be disappointed. Sure, it's not a lens for all occasions, and flare could be a big problem, but if you avoid its short comings, and use it where it shines, there could be pleasant surprises to be had.

Note. This lens also comes in Exakta mount.

Note interesting bokeh. Shot wide open -- Canon Digital Rebel 550D & Meyer-Optik 58mm f1.9 V. Embiggen.

Art? Sorry but I think it's disgusting -- Rebel 550D (T2i) & Meyer-Optik 58mm f1.9. Embiggen.

More "art" -- Canon Digital Rebel 550D (T2i) & Meyer-Optik 58mm f1.9.


  1. I am also a big fan of the Meyer bokeh. I have a 50/1.8 Oreston and it does something similar like your first photograph. I find the bokeh to be borderline busy in some backgrounds, but I always find myself looking at them over and over again in great interest.

  2. Nice examples, thanks. The Domiplan is a Cooke triplet design, though, not a Tessar.

  3. @Anonymous: thanks for the clarification.

    @natebarnz: I think the later Pentacon 50mm f1.8 was derived from the Meyer Oreston, or they were both identical lens in design. Can't say they don't have character. They make create interesting image characteristics, for sure.

  4. .

    The Meyer Oreston 50mm 1.8 and Pentacon 50mm 1.8 are sure the same design ..... and it is said that the firm Pentacon is indeed the direct descendant of Meyer ! ... and both of these lenses do produce the 'painterly bokeh ' .... i have acquired a pentacon and it does it well !

    .... but primoplan (58mm) is a different design optically ..... and it has its own painterly bokeh thing ..... now can we say that painterly bokeh thing is attributable to optical design ??? .... i mean there is acertain degree of confusion here ...


  5. http://m.objektivym42.webnode.cz/fotogalerie/#!