Meyer Görlitz Trioplan 1:2.8 F=10,5cm
Trioplan – that word alone is able to send collectors of photographica and users of manual lenses into a frenzy. The old Trioplan 100 2.8, with its soap bubble bokeh is such an adored lens by many that its’ second hand price keeps on skyrocketing. So much that it is one of the few oldschool classic lenses that has been revived and its production has been revamped by the recently reintroduced Meyer-Optik Görlitz brand. There are also other lenses holding the Trioplan name, including this rare gem: The Trioplan 2.8 F10.5 cm from the early 1930ies.
I obtained this lens by pure luck. I purchased an old screwmount Leica a while back and it came with this lens attached to it. Honestly I think the seller wasn’t really aware about what he was selling “…it comes with a special lens attached to it…” and the buyer (me) was not too sure about what he was buying – I just wanted the camera body. Sometimes you just have to be lucky I guess. My copy has a bit of “patina” but technically it is in perfect condition. It has a few interesting aspects and seems to be a very mysterious lens (I could barely find any information on it). Therefore I thought it deserves an own page on here, maybe somebody knows more about it. So let’s see what this Trioplan grandpa is made of:
- Built quality
- Superb portraiture lens
Since this is a Trioplan review I have to start with the Bokeh:
I would say mission accomplished. Wide open the center is sharp and then the bokeh takes care of the rest. A dreamy, almost painted swirling delight transforms any backdrop in an almost painted marvel. I like it – a lot!
Overall the image quality is reasonably sharp – the normal Trioplan 100 2.8 is certainly better in this department. In my opinion is a collectors item. It is not a point and shoot lens. You need a bit of experience with old lenses to bring out the best of this one. It does not like light sources from the side. Aperture needs to be correctly set to obtain colorful images with contrast. Otherwise you will obtain a blurry, overexposed mess. The standard Trioplan 100 2.8 is far easier to shoot with.
I like the fact that the focal length is a bit longer: 105mm. This can come in handy for portraiture. It is, compared to modern standards a pretty arbitrary focal length. When used on a Leica you would have to guesstimate the framing (there are no 10,5 cm frame lines, even if you use an external viewfinder). That is something I can live with.
What I think is interesting about this lens is the way it is constructed. The construction is very slim (as is the later Trioplan 100 2.8) and there is a little lens shade fixed to the end of the lens barrel. The lens shade has engravings on it and it is meant to be used at all times. My lens is coated but I don’t think it was coated when it was initially produced. I assume someone went through the process of coating the elements afterwards (but I might be wrong on this one). So far the lens resembles its successor a lot. There is one major difference: you can actually see the focusing mechanism. The thread is visible as it is not hidden inside the lens barrel. When you are focusing the lens you can actually see the thread turning and the top of the lens moves up and down. That is pretty cool, yet totally cumbersome.
It really is unfair to criticize this pre-War tele-lens. It is a rather unique and a rare milestone. Nobody in their right mind would run around all day taking pictures with this. It is a rather a lens you cherish and try to keep in good nick for others to enjoy after you are long gone (at least that is how I see it). Luck gave me this item and it is in good hands before being passed on. It is a piece of history after all.
I have not seen many of these being sold anywhere. A couple where sold at Westlicht – you can figure the price range. This type of lens seems to be really difficult to find and collectors will probably spoil the final price tag. If you want a lens to shoot with I would recommend investing your cash in something else. The standard Trioplan 100 2.8 is much more enjoyable, easy and fun to shoot with (and it is already expensive enough).
This approximately 80 year old gem requires some time to adapt to. But once you are familiar with it can be very rewarding.
Trioplan 2.8 / 10,5 cm Versions
The Trioplan was developed in 1916. It is based on the Cook triplet lens formula. These lenses were manufactured for Leica M39 screwmount cameras, Contax rangefinder cameras and early Exakta models.
- Minimum Focusing Distance: 10,5 cm
- Made in Germany
- Aperture: 2.8 – 22
- 3 elements in 3 groups
- Aperture blades: 15
- Mounts: Leica M39 & Contax RF & Exakta