Wide Open Magic. Meyer Optik 30mm F3.5 II Lydith Review

The Meyer Optik 30mm F3.5 II Lydith is a reissued lens that deserves to be shot wide open.

If you hear the name Meyer Optik, you probably think about their soap bubble lenses. The Meyer Optik 30mm f3.5 II Lydith isn’t that. Instead, they describe it using the words watercolor and faithful reproduction. And in truth, that’s what it is. The Meyer Optik 30mm f3.5 II Lydith is a reissue of a vintage lens, but they’ve redone the housing. Overall, it’s a nice lens. However, it suffers from some usability issues that I’m not sure would make someone pull the trigger on the purchase.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Metal build
  • Small
  • Really nice colors
  • Beautiful bokeh

Cons

  • No weather sealing
  • The smooth aperture is better for cinema than photo.
  • I really wish this had lens contacts so it could communicate with Sony camera bodies.
  • Only f3.5, but how am I really going to hate on a reissued lens?

Too Long, Didn’t Read

The Meyer Optik 30mm f3.5 II Lydith is a manual focus lens that has been reissued. I think photographers looking for a vintage and cinematic experience will like it. But the housing should have had some more revamps.

Innovations

The Meyer Optik 30mm f3.5 II Lydith isn’t doing anything to change the game at all. Instead, Meyer Optik is just reissuing lenses from many years ago. In the face of modern optics, this is something totally different. For what it’s worth, it has a bit of that soap bubble look to it.

Gear Used

We tested the Meyer Optik 30mm f3.5 II Lydith with the Sony a7r III in E mount.

Tech Specs

Specs are taken from the official website listing

Focal Length & Aperture:30mm / f3.5 – f22
Angle of View:71°
Aperture Blades:10
Filter diameter:52mm
Minimum object distance:0,15 m
Length:53mm – 71mm
Weight:230g – 270g
Housing:Aluminum / black anodized
Leica-Rangefinder:no (LiveView mandatory)

Ergonomics

Here’s a look at the Meyer Optik 30mm f3.5 II Lydith. The front of the lens is small, just like the rest of the body.  In fact, it has a 52mm filter thread in the front.

As far as controls go, there are only two. You can see the aperture ring near the front and the focusing ring behind that. You’ll also spot the zone focusing and distance scales. This is a style that is far less elaborate than Zeiss, Voigtlander, and Leica.

Build Quality

The Meyer Optik 30mm f3.5 II Lydith has a metal body. This automatically makes it built better than most other lenses. The aperture ring and the focusing ring turn smoothly and make the overall experience pleasant. However, it doesn’t have weather resistance. To me, as someone would want to use it to create beautiful cinematic looks in the rain, this is a problem. Meyer Optik could’ve brought this lens up to par with Zeiss Loxia lenses. 

Focusing

This lens is focused manually. On the Sony E mount system, that’s harder than you might think. Focus peaking on Sony cameras is pretty awful. So if you’re shooting, you’ll need to compose your scene, move the focusing point over what you want to focus on, magnify, focus and then shoot. The process is annoying, but it also forces you to shoot fewer photos. Of course, you can also zone focus with this lens. They built a zone focusing distance scale into it. 

Ease of Use

This isn’t a lens for the newbie photographer. There is a manual aperture ring and focusing ring involved. It has no autofocus. Further, the aperture ring doesn’t have clicks. That means when you’re working with it, you need to look down at the lens to figure out your settings. Then there is the whole focusing process. Quite honestly, I wouldn’t blame you if you became annoyed using it.

Image Quality

The Meyer Optik 30mm f3.5 II Lydith exhibited very nice image quality and saturated wide open. That’s also the case when stopped up–which is different than some other lenses. The bokeh, colors, and character can all be very nice. As far as sharpness goes, it’s best when it’s stopped down. 

Bokeh

The best bokeh from this lens is made when you shoot with it wide open. It’s got a little bit of that Meyer Optik Soap Bubble look to it. But sometimes it’s hard to see. I’ve seen it more apparent on other lenses for sure.

Color Rendition

The colors from this lens are a bit more low contrast than you’d get from a typical Sony lens, but well saturated. That’s part of the vintage charm and the cinematic look that you’ll get from it. Most of the time, I used the Deep color profile. That’s what they mean by a watercolor. Instead, I’d think of it more like an oil painting.

Lens Character

I tried to get lens flare, but it controls it very well. That’s odd to me. Otherwise, it also controls fringing issues very well. It translates to less post-production overall.

Sharpness

Wide-open, the Meyer Optik 30mm f3.5 II Lydith isn’t very sharp. It gets sharper as you stop down to f5.6. Even then, it’s overall not the sharpest lens on the market, but it’s also not designed to be. Lenses back in the day just weren’t that sharp. 

Extra Image Samples

Conclusions

Likes

  • Colors
  • Small size

Dislikes

Getting right to the heart of the matter, the Meyer Optik 30mm f3.5 II Lydith is a weird lens. It’s an odd focal length even for rangefinder cameras. It has colors like a painting, and not much of the soap bubble effect. It can surely produce very good images, but I feel it could’ve used AE/AF contacts and weather sealing. This is a lens I’d want to take out into the rain and shoot with. That way, I’d be able to embrace the watercolor look a lot more. But because it isn’t weather-sealed, I can’t do that.

The Meyer Optik 30mm f3.5 II Lydith receives three out of five stars.

Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.