A Pleasant Surprise. Meyer Optik 58mm F1.9 II Review

For more stories like this, please subscribe to The Phoblographer.

I’ve tested several Meyer Optik lenses. And they’ve never been easy to work with. Meyer Optik has also made perplexing decisions, but the 58mm f1.9 II is mostly different. It’s easy to get it sharp wide open. It’s also got beautiful colors in addition to its bokeh. In many ways, it’s my favorite lens from Meyer Optik. But for the price point, I’d expect more. For example, why isn’t this lens weather resistant? And why aren’t there autofocus contacts?

Too Long, Didn’t Read

The Meyer Optik 58mm f1.9 II is a beautiful lens that’s pretty small. It has smooth focusing and sharp image quality. Further, there are also really nice colors that are hard to hate on. For $899, though, I’d expect some weather resistance or lens communication.

Innovations

The Meyer Optik 58mm f1.9 II isn’t necessarily innovative. But they’re a company known for their beautiful soap bubble bokeh. Their website talks about the bokeh as if it’s swirly. This lens implements it differently than others. Most other lenses just make the outer edges of the lens swirly. But in this case, it makes whatever is not in focus swirly when shooting wide open.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Beautiful bokeh
  • The sharpest Meyer Optik lens I’ve used
  • Just a bit too sharp for portraits, but that’s fine in many cases
  • Smooth focusing
  • Large focusing range
  • I love manual focus lenses because they slow you down
  • Beautiful colors on the Sony a7r III

Cons

  • Lacks weather sealing
  • Lacks contacts for AF/AE communication
  • Really only sharp around the four points of the rule of thirds intersection.

Gear Used

We tested the Meyer Optik 58mm f1.9 II on the Sony a7r III.

Tech Specs

The specs for the Meyer Optik 58mm f1.9 II are taken from their website:

Focal Length & Aperture:58mm / f1.9 – f22
Angle of View:41°
Aperture Blades:14
Filter diameter:52mm
Minimum object distance:0,5 m
Length:53mm – 71mm
Weight:230g – 270g
Housing:Aluminum / black anodized
Leica-Rangefinder:no (LiveView mandatory)

Ergonomics

The Meyer Optik 58mm f1.9 II is a special lens. It’s modeled as basically a reissue a vintage optic. And this can be seen throughout the entire design. The lens hood is small and screws onto the front of the lens. The lens cap can work on both the front of the lens and the lens hood.


When you look down at the Meyer Optik 58mm f1.9 II, you’ll see the metal body. But there is also the focusing ring, distance scale, and aperture ring. You can use this easily to zone focus.

The Meyer Optik 58mm f1.9 II has different measurements color-coded for your needs. It’s overall a small lens that you’ll love the feel of in your hands.

Build Quality

The Meyer Optik 58mm f1.9 II isn’t weather-sealed, but it has a metal exterior. For Sony, in particular, I don’t think that’s a great move. Every lens that goes on a Sony camera should be weather resistant. Otherwise, the sensor tends to get dirty. Unfortunately, the Meyer Optik 58mm f1.9 isn’t weather-sealed, at least not at the mount. The lens has a little bit of rubber, but that’s not for weather sealing.

Otherwise, this is a metal lens and feels great in hand. If you’re a fan of classic lens designs, you’ll love this. Personally, I prefer metal lenses. I think they’re much better for the environment than all the plastic modern camera lenses use.

Ease of Use

This is a manual focus lens. So for what it’s worth, lots of folks will find it difficult to use. What’s worse is that Sony’s autofocus peaking is pretty horrid. So you’ll need to combine it with magnification to get any usable results if you’re shooting wide open. But once you stop down a bit, the system will be a tad more reliable. 

Also, don’t forget about zone focusing!

Focusing

As this is a manual focus lens, you’ll focus manually and use autofocus peaking and magnification to get the shot just right. I think it’s stupid that these lenses don’t have AF communication. The focusing doesn’t communicate with the camera. It can totally be a manual focus lens and do just that. 

Image Quality

Here’s where the Meyer Optik 58mm f1.9 II review gets really good. I really like the image quality here. It’s much unlike Sony in that the image quality isn’t clinical. There’s a ton of lens character. And it surely does have a look to it.

Bokeh

The Meyer Optik 58mm f1.9 II doesn’t have the soap bubble look for sure. But, its swirly bokeh is pretty beautiful. This is pretty fascinating, actually. I found that the in-focus areas aren’t swirly, but the out-of-focus areas have swirly bokeh. With many other lenses, they’ll just make the outer area go swirly and only keep the center sharp. That’s not the case here.

If you love bokeh, then you’ll adore the Meyer Optik 58mm f1.9 II. 

Color Rendition

The colors from this lens tend to be saturated, but not as much as some Sony lenses. We like these colors. It reminds us of a CCD sensor in some ways. But of course, we’re working with a CMOS sensor. But it’s cool that the lens optics are doing that.

Lens Character

I didn’t run into many issues regarding color fringing or standout issues with distortion. But you might want to consider the swirly bokeh here to be the Meyer Optik 58mm f1.9’s lens character. It’s beautiful, and I wish more modern lenses had bokeh like this.

Sharpness

Oh, man! I’m pretty surprised at how sharp this lens is. The Meyer Optik 58mm f1.9 II is modeled after a vintage optic. Yet this lens can truly hold its own with many modern lenses when it comes to sharpness.

Extra Image Samples

From day one, The Phoblographer has been huge on transparency. Nothing from this review is sponsored. Further, lots of folks post reviews and show lots of editing in the photos. The problem then becomes that anyone and everyone can do the same thing. And it’s not showing what the lens can do. So we have a section in our Extra Image Samples area to show edited and unedited photos. From this, you can make a decision for yourself.

Edited

Unedited

Conclusions

Likes

  • Image quality
  • Metal body

Dislikes

  • I wish it had weather sealing
  • I wish there were AF/AE contacts

The Meyer Optik 58mm f1.9 II is a beautiful lens. It starts on the outside with the all-metal build. This already makes it have a place in our hearts. However, it’s missing weather sealing throughout the lens. Then you can look at the focusing. This could’ve been better with the addition of AF contacts on the lens. But zone focusing is also excellent. Finally, the image quality is what you’ll fall for the most. The swirly bokeh is gorgeous, though getting your subject in focus will surely be a task. For $899, I really wish that this lens had weather resistance or focusing assistance. But I guess we can’t have everything. It isn’t even rangefinder coupled!

The Meyer Optik 58mm f1.9 II receives four out of five stars. Want one? Check Amazon.

Chris Gampat

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