Meyer Optik Görlitz — formerly disgraced, purchased, and reborn — has announced that it is no longer a brand-name only and is now operating as an independent organization. In the Meyer Optik’s own words, it is “a real company again.”
Meyer Optik Görlitz has had a long and, recently, rocky history. The brand was founded in 1896 by optician Hugo Myer and businessman Heinrich Schätze and successfully made wide-angle camera lenses. In 1920, the company began working with former Zeiss developer Paul Rudolph, who was significant in the development of the Prota, Planar, and Tessar lenses. Rudolph helped Meyer Optik obtain a patent for what the company called Plasmat lenses, and by 1936 was producing 100,000 lenses a year.
In 1990, after spinning off of a relationship with VEB Carl Zeiss, the company was unable to attract investors and liquidated. But in 2014, net SE along with brand manager Globell B.V. bought the name and exhibited new lenses at the Photokina trade show. In 2015, the company launched a Kickstarter for a new Trioplan 50mm f/2.9.
That Kickstarter was wildly successful and raised $683,801. Despite this, all was not well at the company. Geoff Livingston, a market and founder of Livingston Campaigns, joined Meyer Optik as a contractor to help with that campaign. He was also tapped to launch the Trioplan 100 Kickstarter, but departed the company after he saw some warning signs that bothered him.
In an interview with PetaPixel, he revealed that the company was working to launch the Trioplan 100 before successfully delivering on the Trioplan 50.
“We literally were dealing with complaints about not receiving the 100 while pushing the 50. Not ideal from a PR perspective, but we were told that the company had to launch the Kickstarter. I think the campaign suffered a bit from that,” Livingston told PetaPixel.
Livingston’s gut was right, and the Meyer Optik Görlitz brand owner net SE was revealed to be in serious trouble in August of 2018. The company delisted its shares from the over-the-counter market in Germany and filed for bankruptcy.
Anyone who backed the original successful Kickstarter but did not receive a product simply lost their money.
Today, the collapse of the company is described as what “looks very much like an illegal ponzi pyramid scam” on Wikipedia. What was once a storied, respected lens brand was seriously tarnished by net SE’s business decisions. While many photographers believed that Meyer Optik Görlitz was a larger company with many employees and vast production capabilities, in reality, it was a tiny operation with only a handful of people and was only one of several vintage lens brands under the net SE umbrella.
In 2019, it was confirmed that the net SE was selling cheaper Chinese lenses that were simply rebranded with the Meyer Optik Görlitz name, which further tarnished the brand.
After the collapse of net SE, Meyer Optik Görlitz was purchased by OPC Optics, who acquired the rights to the brand in 2018 and announced plans to bring its products back to market. OPC Optics intended to reboot the brand at Photokina 2020, but the coronavirus pandemic eventually led to the cancelation of that show. Photokina would later shut down indefinitely.
Representatives for the company say that it has since completely rebuilt the entire structure of the brand, including the portfolio of products. The result is that the company is known as Meyer Optik Görlitz GmbH and is based in Bad Kreuznach. Meyer Optik Görlitz GmbH will operate independently, alongside its sister companies OPC Optics GmbH and PPO Pfeiffer Präzisionsoptik GmbH and under the umbrella of a common parent company. The transition to organizational and administrative independence is to be completed by the end of the year.
“After almost 3 years of hard and intensive work, we are very happy to have laid the foundation for an independent Meyer Optik Görlitz GmbH and to be able to put it on its own feet” Timo Heinze, Managing Director of the new Meyer Optik Görlitz GmbH now says. “After we, under the umbrella of OPC Optics, developed the brand’s portfolio and established sales structures, the time has now come for Meyer Optik Görlitz to step out of the shadows as a ‘real’ company and operate independently on the market.”
The company says that it plans to launch a Trioplan 35 II, Biotar 58 II, and Biotar 75 II by the fourth quarter of 2021. It will also expand the portfolio of lenses with classic models. Additionally, the company says new products are already in the works, so more new launches can be expected next year.
Editor’s note: Meyer Optik Görlitz reached out to clarify that its products are made entirely in Germany, not China. “We produce the optics in our own factory in Bad Kreuznach and the mechanics are sourced from high end mechanic suppliers from the Wetzlar-area in Germany (they produce i.e. for Leica Camera as well). Assembling, etc. is done in Germany as well.”