You can follow along with this review by clicking the Listen to This Article button. Give it a try!
It’s no secret that photographers get lots of pleasure from bokeh in photos. It’s gorgeous. Apple, Samsung, Google, and others spend lots of money and processing power, trying to replicate it with their phones. But it’s never going to become anything like what the Meyer Optik Trioplan 100mm II has. This bokeh is absolutely stunning. And I’m a fan of the colors too. They remind me of older Zeiss Biotar lenses. The bokeh isn’t all you’ll drool over. You’ll also adore the colors. Now, we tested this lens on Sony camera bodies, but I’ve got a feeling it will be ideal on Leica bodies. Portrait photographers are going to love this lens. Believe it or not, it’s also a great lens for photo walking. It’s incredibly fun, and the character it has is truly unique.
Pros and Cons
- Metal body
- Smooth feeling
- Incredibly low contrast, and kind of cool
- It can be sharp when stopped down. And is much sharper on 24MP sensors than the higher ones.
- Very sharp but low contrast
- Every time I look at the bokeh, I fall in love a little bit more
- Why did they even bother with a zone focusing scale?
- Why not lens AF/AE contacts?
- No weather sealing
- Smooth aperture, not clicked
- Hard to focus
- Low contrast makes focusing tough
We tested the Meyer Optik Trioplan 100mm III with the Sony a7 original and Sony a7r III.
These specifications have been summarized from the official listing
- 52mm filter thread
- The minimum focus of 0.9 meters
- Metal body
Here’s what the Meyer Optik Trioplan 100mm II looks like from the front. It has a 52mm filter thread, and the lens shade has that too. It’s a tall, lanky lens that’s dressed like a NYer.
Looking at the Meyer Optik Trioplan 100mm II here, you can see all the controls. The aperture is towards the front. That’s how lots of classic optics are. The focusing ring is towards the back. This lens amazingly has zone focusing. That’s incredible. However, I sort of think it’s useless with telephoto focal lengths. Generally speaking, getting anything in focus is sort of tough. But stop the lens down a bit, and that changes.
Nothing on this lens is made of rubber. And some folks may like that. But I really wish that there were rubber gaskets to keep moisture out. You’ll hear me talk about build quality often in this review. It’s holistic to the entire usage of this lens.
The Meyer Optik Trioplan 100mm II is one of those weird ones. I like to say they’re an “almost” lens. It has a full metal body. But unfortunately, it’s not weather sealed. Manufacturers have recently not liked that we keep saying this. However, we’ll stand by the following statement: every single lens should be weather sealed. Fewer and fewer people are using proper cameras. But the people who do are using them in a rougher fashion. These lenses and cameras need to resist the rough and tumble. Otherwise, you’re just going to lose customers.
“This is truly a lens for a photographer who will slow down and maybe use a tripod.”
With all that aside, the Meyer Optik Trioplan 100mm II is a nice feeling lens. Once you get used to it, it will be like a long rangefinder optic. The focus and aperture are both very smooth. I really wish that the f-stop could click. Unfortunately, it doesn’t. And I guess that’s better for video shooters. But otherwise, I have to come clean here. It looks really odd. It’s shaped almost like someone wanted to build a roll of toilet paper around it.
This is where things get complicated. The Meyer Optik Trioplan 100mm II works in different ways depending on the camera you’re using. First off, it’s an all manual focus lens. That’s fine, but it gets complicated. There are no lens contacts, so focus communication is pretty bad. Combine this with the lack of major contrast in this lens, and you’ll have a tougher time with it. Now here’s where it gets weirder. On higher megapixel camera bodies, this lens will be sort of sharp. You’ll get a uniquely gorgeous look with little sharpness. Put it on a Sony a7, Sony a9, or Sony a7s series camera body, and you’ll get different results. It will be super sharp, and this sharpness is directly translatable to the focus peaking abilities.
Ease of Use
This is a manual focus lens. You can’t use it in inclement weather. Combine that with most Sony cameras not having great build quality at the mount, and you’ll get sensors you have to clean a lot. Then there are no autofocus contacts. And it’s a telephoto lens. So zone focusing is pretty much useless. This is truly a lens for a photographer who will slow down and maybe use a tripod. Thankfully, the image stabilization in Sony cameras makes things easier.
I truly wish more lenses were made like the Meyer Optik Trioplan 100mm II despite my qualms. We don’t need sharpness numbers that satisfy DXOMark. Instead, we need a beautiful character. And the Meyer Optik Trioplan 100mm II has tons of that. It’s been updated to make it sharper, have less fringing issues, and have beautiful color. But by far, the most beautiful thing is the bokeh.
Look at this! Look at those bokeh balls! And look at how creamy it is. This is the type of lens that will get so many photographers excited about shooting. Sony, we don’t care about your quibbles with onion bokeh. We want this! This is the character your lenses are lacking. You say we can put back in with post-production, but we don’t want to do that. We want a classic look that’s been missing for a while now.
This is a 100mm lens. There is no issue with distortion. Further, there are also no problems with chromatic aberration, fringing, etc. This lens is based on a very old design but with updates. And Meyer Optik did a fantastic job with the second version of this lens. Of course, there’s lens flare. But we need more of that! Capture One was able to find no issues with the glass otherwise, so let’s move on.
Color with Sony cameras has always been odd. Personally, I use them on Deep or Clear color profile modes. And with those, the Meyer Optik Trioplan 100mm II is a bit muted. With the Vivid color profile, it’s even then comparatively muted to Sony and Tamron’s lenses. Still, the colors are very unique. I haven’t seen them from Zeiss, Rokinon, Voigtlander, Sigma, or others. I really like it.
On lower megapixel bodies, this lens will really shine through with sharpness. But as soon as you get any higher than 24MP camera bodies, the sharpness starts to fall apart. That’s not uncommon. We’ve seen that with a few Samyang and Rokinon lenses. A flash can fix that. However, again, I don’t think you should worry about it. It’s part of the lens’s character. And if you’re a portrait photographer, you’re going to love this.
Extra Image Samples
- Sharpness on lower megapixel cameras
- Character to the lens
- Low contrast
- The unique, classic look!
- Price point
- No autofocus contacts
- No weather sealing
- Needs clicks on the aperture ring
The Meyer Optik Trioplan 100mm II is a fantastic lens in many ways. If you’re shooting in more sterile environments, then it will always perform well. The image quality can be discussed at length for a while. It’s sharp on lower megapixel bodies. The bokeh is second to none. The build quality is all metal. But at the same time, they gave this lens no clicky aperture ring, weather sealings, or autofocus contacts. The latter can help with focus acquisition. Don’t get me wrong, I adore the images this lens can create. However, I can’t recommend it to everyone for every single situation. At the moment, it’s a niche product. And until it gets at least weather sealing, it’s going to stay that way.
The Meyer Optik Trioplan 100mm II receives four out of five stars. Want one? They’re pretty pricey; see if you can find them cheaper on eBay.