A few weeks ago a representative from Meyer-Optik-Görlitz contacted us to see if we were interested in interviewing Dr. Wolf-Dieter Prenzel about Meyer-Optik-Görlitz’s new Trioplan f2.9/50. Dr. Prezel was Chief Engineer at the original Meyer-Optik-Görlitz company and is currently the Chief Technology Officer.
Not being familiar with the brand, I tried doing some research on the web in advance but came up with a mixture of fact and misinformation about this brand that’s been in hibernation throughout the transition to digital. Now it’s back, with a variety of compelling lenses to offer. So, I hope you find the following interview informative, and feel free to contact me if you have any personal experience with Meyer-Optik-Görlitz. I find the brand to be a compelling one, and think it’s important to preserve past and present history on the web whenever possible.
Q: Why were the 100mm Trioplan F2.8 and 50mm Trioplan F2.9 selected as the first classic Meyer Optik lenses to be brought back by your company?
A: When we re-started Meyer Optik we looked at the different lenses. The challenge was to use modern materials, but maintain the historic charm of the lens. The most obvious case is the “soap bubble bokeh,” which made the Trioplan lenses famous. So we figured that by meeting this challenge we would prove to be the truthful successor of the former Meyer Optik’s works.
Q: Considering the success of your Kickstarters, do you have or are you developing a road map for the introduction of other classic Meyer Optik lens designs?
A: Yes, this is what the Kickstarter projects are all about. They build the critical mass needed to get us up and running. We are investing the funds not only into the build of the specific lens but also into further development of other lenses and into developing the production facilities we want to have right here in Germany.
Q: In what ways have you improved the new lenses over the original designs?
A: Basically, in every aspect since much better glass with finest coating is available today and the quality of the aluminum and eloxal of the housing is extremely high.
Q: What makes your design unique in comparison with other manual lenses like Zeiss and Leica?
A: Our lenses try to capture a certain charm. With the Trioplan lenses we are not chasing maximum sharpness but we want to capture a character in the image that hi tech lenses do not want to provide. We do not think this is an either/or decision, but rather a “one as well as the other.”
Q:How durable will the movable front element of the 50mm Trioplan F2.9 be and could we see it added to other designs in the future?
A: It is durable, don’t worry. I think it is rather unique for this application. I do not think we will see it again.
Q: Will the movable front element survive a fall or bumping into a wall when slung over a shoulder?
A: Normally yes, but it is never a good idea to drop a lens or bump it into a wall.
Q: You are currently supporting a lot of mounts, but there is no rangefinder-coupled M mount option. Do you have any plans to produce a rangefinder-coupled lens in the future? I’m sure a lot of M fans would be interested and the M mount is universally adaptable among mirrorless cameras.
A: Honestly, at the moment no, but we take your suggestion seriously and will think about it. We know there are some products out in the market, especially from the far east, claiming that they work. But according to our tests none of them do. Our lenses are strictly manual.
Q: Can you go into more detail about the current state of your strong commitment to producing a substantial portion of your lenses in Germany?
A: Yes, it is relatively simple. All Trioplan lenses and future lenses of the historic Meyer lineup will be developed in Görlitz and produced 100% in Germany. We have built our own small handcraft-shop where the lenses are produced using most modern tools. We will continue with further improvements.
Q: Do you have a favorite classic Meyer photographer that might have utilized these lenses that you can share with us?
A: Ha, no. It is not up to us to pass a judgment on our photographers’ works. Please understand we try to remain a neutral status so as not to shape or define what a “correct” photo looks like. We want to unlock creativity, not limit it.
Q: I’m curious because I have been reading about Meyer Optik’s history for a few days now and it seems like there are a lot of gaps to fill on the Internet. So is there anything you think should be brought to light? I’m sure the topic could fill a book, but we have to start somewhere.
A: I think it is important to note that most unique constructions of legendary Meyer lenses took place until the late 60s. We bridge as much as 60 years from then until now, and are resurrecting those legends in a modern interpretation. These links between history and modern times have not been realized by the public, I believe. We are not just rebuilding old lenses again but we are anchoring in the past to do the innovative new stuff.
Q: What is the best way to buy Meyer Optik’s glass in the US and are there any plans to establish relationships with any particular stores so that potential customers can demo your glass in advance of purchasing it in the future or will your current model remain the same going forward?
A: We have announced our start in the US with our press release and with our Kickstarter projects. We are talking to several bigger players on the sales side in the US, but we also have a number of sales reps who will make sure that smaller retailers carry our products.
About Dr. Wolf-Dieter Prenzel
Dr. Prenzel is one of the chief engineers for the original Meyer-Optik company, and one of the world’s leading experts on the Trioplan lens. He is an instrumental part of the Meyer-Optik team in determining the materials and redesign of the new Trioplans. Dr. Prenzel is passionate about design, high-quality lenses and leading edge manufacturing.
About the author: Louis Ferriera is a second generation Leica photographer that learned analog photography on a first production year Leica M3 that he inherited from his uncle. Photography has been an avocation of his for 25 years and he became involved in professional photography when the transition to digital photography began in the 90’s.