Sometime during the summer of 2016 I backed the Meyer Optik Goerlitz Trioplan 50mm Kickstarter project. It was so long ago I’m not even sure what initially caught my eye, other than the fact that I love playing with new lenses and I’d been searching for something other than the swirly Petzval thing everyone is doing. Given how much I like old things while being simultaneously too lazy to deal with adapters and film, Meyer Optik’s promise to resurrect a vintage lens for modern cameras appealed to me greatly. Not to mention that the bokeh on the classic Trioplan really can’t be beat, whether you have the right conditions to achieve the signature soap-bubble look or not. It took over a year, but I finally am in possession of the actual lens and thought I’d write up my first impressions.
I’m not going to talk too much about the technical aspects of the lens, since they’re pretty clearly noted on the Meyer Optik site. The important thing to note is that the Trioplan is a manual lens, which didn’t bother me at all after using Lensbaby lenses for a few years. There is a little bit of a learning curve with the focusing rings, especially if you’re planning to use the macro capabilities since you’ll be focusing two separate rings. Focusing on an exact spot is a challenge at f/2.9, much less so at f/5.6 and above. The lens actually has a beautiful sharpness stopped down, but I bought it to use wide open. All the photos in this post were shot at f/2.9 in the same lighting conditions.
One thing I have noticed is that the Trioplan does much better if the subject is evenly lit. It’s very easy to overexpose with strong directional light. If you want the soap bubbles (which I clearly didn’t achieve here), you’ll need strong backlighting through leaves or the equivalent. So far, however, I’ve been happiest using the lens with simple, flat lighting as seen here. The effect is incredibly soft, filmic, and painterly. It’s an unusual quality, not something you get just by shooting with a wide aperture, especially not f/2.9.
Admittedly, it was nice to shoot without the stress of a specific focal point. If you’re a regular follower of my blog, you know that I don’t usually post photos without humans in them, and in fact, my first time out with the Trioplan was an agency test shoot in NYC. I found that a little overwhelming, and I’m glad I had a chance to get back to basics before I need to focus on an eye again.
That said, I’m truly happy with the results I’ve gotten from both shoots, despite how challenging shooting a model with no practice was. It could be a color thing, even straight out of camera, the Trioplan shots appear edited. I’ll post photos from my test soon, but here’s a quick preview in case soon doesn’t happen for a while.
In the meantime, if you’re interested in learning more about Meyer Optik’s Trioplan 50, or any of their many other new-old lenses, you can check out their website here
I’ll also hopefully get a chance soon to try out the Trioplan in the studio. I love it for the nature shots, my goal is to figure out how to best apply that quality to people.