The Meyer Trioplan 2.8/100 is one of the most hyped lenses of the moment and prices have exploded to absolutely crazy levels. But do you get anything special but that soap bubble bokeh for your money? Read on if you want to know.
|Filter Thread||49 mm|
|Close Focusing Distance from the sensor||1.2 m|
|Number of aperture blades||15|
|Elements/ Groups||3 / 3|
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There are quite a few versions of this lens and it came in several different mounts. There even is a modern version of this lens which you can buy for the very affordable price of just 1.499€.
I didn’t spend too much time on research and found no good resource about the history and different versions. So all I can tell you is that my copy comes in M42 mount but there are also many version with Exakta mount.
Build quality and handling
The lens is made from aluminium and it feels a bit delicate if you ask me, the fact that it is quite thin might play a role here but I felt that I had to be more careful with it than with my SLR lenses from the 70’s.
The focusing ring travels around 330 degrees from 1,2 m to infinity. It feels very smooth and is a pleasure to use.
The aperture ring has no stops but a long way of travel and you can select any value form f/2.8 to f/22 very precisely.
The lens has 15 straight aperture blades so specular highlights stay round even stopped down.
The hood is just an about 15mm long silver ring which offers some protection against damage but it doesn’t shield the front of the lens effectively.
Size and Weight
The Trioplan is a small lens, especially the diameter is unusually small but it is also somewhat detrimental to the handling if you ask me.
These results are based on the use with a Sony Alpha 7.
In short: Lousy.
Ghosting isn’t the issue but you often have to carefully shield the front of the lens with your hand to fight the veiling flare. Especially when you want to provoke the one effect this lens is known for, see bokeh.
The Meyer Trioplan 2.8/100 is known and loved (by some at least) for it’s rather distinctive rendering of specular highlights at f/2.8 wich is a nice way of saying that it there is very strong outlining going on in the background.
I have used the lens on a couple of trips but I haven’t warmed to the effect. I still think that it usually distracts a lot from my subject and only very rarely adds to the image. Here is a comparison with the Minolta MC 2.5/100 (which costs a lot less than the Trioplan).
In my opinion the Bokeh of the Trioplan catches the viewers attention and leads it away from the subject to the background while the very soft background of the Minolta doesn’t call for any attention and lets the viewer focus on the subject.
The Meyer Trioplan 2.8/100’s bokeh characteristic changes dramatically from f/2.8 to f/4:
So at f/4 bokeh is actually very smooth.
Lateral CA are corrected perfectly which is unusual for a 100mm lens.
f/2.8: Decent resolution in the center but very low contrast. The midframe area is barely sharp and shows even lower contrast, the corners are soft.
f/4: Good contrast and sharpness in the center, corners are soft.
f/5.6: The Trioplan is less sharp in the center than at f/4 and contrast is lower as well. Never before have I used a lens on my a7 which showed this behavior so I repeated the test with the same result.
f/8: Contrast is even lower but now the midframe region is very sharp as well.
f/11: A significant improvement of the corners, they are sharp now. Contrast overall is pretty low though.
So all in all a rather pitiful performance here, more “modern” lenses from the 60’s and 70’s perform significantly better.
- Minolta MC 2.5/100: Cheaper, sturdier build, sharper, much smoother bokeh at f/2.5. Of course it lacks the Trioplan’s “feature” of the soap-bubble-bokeh.
- Zeiss Sonnar 3.5/100: Even sharper and contrastier than the Minolta. Bokeh is quite smooth as well.
- Olympus OM 2.8/100: A tiny lens which performs much better in any aspect and costs less.
In a technical sense there is little positive I could say about this lens: It is soft with very low contrast and very distracting bokeh at f/2.8. From f/4 it is a decent perfomer with good bokeh and decent sharpness. Curiously the contrast drops at f/5.6, I have no explanation for this behavior. The corners only become somewhat sharp at f/11 and the Trioplan flares very easily.
I think I haven’t reviewed a lens with such a low performance before. I guess that’s what makes the lens attractive for quite a few people who call these deficits character. If you are of the opinion that optical defects adds to your images then it might actually be a good lens for you. The current price of $450 and more is absolutely bonkers if you ask me, but again, people will disagree with me here as well.
So, all in all the Meyer Trioplan 2.8/100 is a one-trick pony with a hefty price tag. I don’t get the trick but it seems that many other people enjoy it quite a lot.Price (September 2016): $500 in good condition.
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