Meyer Optik Gorlitz Primoplan 1.9 58
The Primoplan 1.9 58mm is a beautiful, highly sought after prime lens that was manufactured between 1952 and 1959 by the Meyer-Optik company in East Germany. During that time Meyer-Optik Görlitz was famous for high end fast lenses. It is only in later years that the name Meyer-Optik was associated with lenses of mediocre quality, such as the Domiplan lens.
The price for a mint Primoplan has sky-rocketed in recent years as the lens is highly regarded by both photographers and collectors alike.
From time to time you come across a special lens that does not have amazing specs, yet you always end up using it. For me this special lens is the Meyer-Optik Primoplan lens. On paper it is nothing special. At f1.9 it is rather slow, the minimum focusing distance is not mind-blowing and the coating is certainly outdated. Yet I often catch myself opting for the Pimoplan. Why? Because it’s a great package.
The 58 1.9 Primoplan is in many ways a very special lens
- excellent build quality
- light & compact prime lens
- amazing bokeh
- superb portraiture lens
- good video lens
I really like the Primoplan. It does not excel at anything specific but it offers such an outstanding package which makes it a superb fifty millimetre lens.
First things first, the build quality and ergonomics are superb. As you would suspect from a 1950ies lens there is not a single piece of plastic here. Everything is made out of metal and feels solid. The focusing is smooth and the aperture settings are click-less, making it a superb video lens.
The most famous aspect of the Primoplan is the stylish bokeh. And bokeh you get! A creamy twirling wonder bokeh. One of the best I have seen in my opinion. Yet when you stop the lens down a bit the image quality is super sharp.
The unusual focal length of 58mm is ideal for portraiture photography. It just gives you a bit more space and you don’t have to be “in the face” of the subject. Portraiture shots become a real joy with the Primoplan.
All in all it certainly is not the best lens when it comes to value for money but you certainly obtain a prime lens with a lot of character.
- minimum focusing distance could be better
- availability (especially in good condition)
- no infinity focusing possible on Canon EOS
Well the first let down is of course the price, which keeps rising and rising. You can count yourself lucky if you manage to get your hands on a decent Primoplan copy for around $300. In that price range you do have loads of other superb prime lenses. The main reason for this is that most Primoplan lenses are simply not in good condition any more. Most 58mm Primoplan lenses that I came across had noticeable signs of their age. Be extra careful when you buy a Primoplan – the lens glass seems to be prone to fungus and haziness!
As a Canon user, another big drawback is that you will not be able to focus to infinity – the lens will hit your mirror (this will not affect mirrorless cameras).
Finally, the minimum focusing distance could be a bit better. 75cm really is not amazing – even the Carl Zeiss Tessar 50mm 2.8 manages 35cm.
Meyer Optik Gorlitz Primoplan 1.9 58 Versions
The Primoplan 58mm 1.9 lens was manufactured both in M42 and EXA / Exakta mount for the Contax D and Pentacon F cameras. All lenses have the typical bright aluminium finish. Coated lenses are marked with a red V.
- M42 mount
- EXA / Exakta mount
- Weight: 170 gr
- Minimum Focusing Distance: 75cm
- Filter Mount: 49mm
- Made in Germany
- Aperture: 1.9 – 22
- 5 elements in 4 groups