Name: Meyer-Optik Orestor 135mm f/2.8
Tested On: Canon EOS D30 and 30D
Focal Length: 135mm
Maximum Aperture: f/2.8
Minimum Aperture: f/32
Diaphragm Blades: 15
Price Paid: UK£29 (but I've seen even mint examples go for much less)
EDIT they were cheap and unloved when I wrote this review - now the Bay has woken up to this lens in particular and Meyers in general, and they're often going for stupid money. So much for the power of Google and a slow-burn building reputation!
Serial Number (or Approx.): 3761777
Product Ratings (1=miserable, 5=excellent):
Construction Quality: 4
Image Quality: 4
I've only marked down a point each here because my frame of reference would be professional, and expensive, pro grade lenses like Ls. I'm sure Canon's 135/2L is even better and sharper so I can't in all honesty say this is the best 135 you'll ever put on your Canon, but it is the best value beyond a doubt.
Overall Value For Price: 5
Schematic linked from this page
Meyer-Optik of Gorlitz was one of the East German optical companies that later merged with the large Praktica/Pentacon brand, and this same lens can also be found with Pentacon branding. The preset aperture version is pretty nearly identical, with the 15 blade iris, but the auto-aperture version has only 6 blades.
Of the many bits of cheap glass I've bought because I just fancied the look of them, this is undoubtedly one of the best. It's solidly built, with a no-fuss preset aperture and satisfyingly smooth and long-travel focus action. It's quite small; slightly bigger than a Zuiko 135/2.8 but quite a bit heavier, due in large part to its Zeiss Sonnar type optical formulation of thick chunky elements.
Performance-wise, it's great. While not quite L-glass sharp wide open, it is respectably sharp, and gets better stopped down as is usual. The bokeh is spectacularly good at pretty much any aperture, due to that beautiful, perfectly circular 15-blade iris. So while it does a great job of separating foreground and background at f/2.8, it's still all good at f/5.6 or f/8 where you may want a bit more DoF for say getting an entire head in focus for portraits. The bokeh is textbook-neutral, with no bright rings at edges or bright lights in the centre of out-of-focus features (except on really bright highlights when wide open), just a smooth creamy blur that becomes a complete abstraction of shape and light when the combination of aperture and foreground/background separation is right. Pin highlights can display a touch of cats-eye shape shooting close up (see the cat with Xmas tree lights below).
It can sometimes impart a yellowy looking cast to images shot in shade on bright days, but it's easily fixed in postpro if you don't like it. I'm not sure if this is down to coating (looks like single-coating with a blue-purple tinge on the front element to me).
It doesn't focus spectacularly close as is (5ft or 1.5m), but is quite impressive on the end of a set of extension tubes. f/32 minimum aperture makes it handy for getting a fair depth of field with closeups.
Filter thread is 55mm so easy enough to get accessory hoods or filters. I don't really have a proper hood for it as mine didn't come with it, but from pics I've seen the factory hood is way too shallow, especially when it's used on an APS-C camera where the angle of view would allow a very deep hood. The len's native contrast is pretty good but would probably benefit from as much shading as possible, in common with most teles.
The M42 mount is actually mounted onto a threaded cone, which is like a kind of early and primitive Adaptall type of idea, where the cone could be swapped out for different lensmounts. Another Meyer lens I have came with a Praktica-B bayonet and the two are completely interchangeable.
An oddity with the lens when used on EOS digitals seems to be that the usual pattern of the meter working perfectly wide open and needing progressive amounts of -ve EV compensation as you stop down is about one stop out. So wide open you actually dial in +ve compensation of about a stop, and meter normally by about f/8. I've never got my head around this and not one other of my manual diaphragm lenses displays the same behaviour.
Despite the long focus travel, it's an easy lens to focus manually, probably because I like to use it wide open and focus seems to snap briskly at f/2.8. It certainly feels more accurate and snappy in the finder when compared to similar vintage lenses like the Jupiter-9 (85mm f/2), and seems to get more in-focus keepers.
To sum up, I like this lens an awful lot. It gets great pictures in all sorts of circumstances (see the variety below). It's simple but effective, well built and at the moment (as far as I know) still cheap as chips and not subject to the eBay madness that has affected the likes of Zeiss Flektogons. A bargain! (edit, see comment above on the way prices have gone a bit nuts on these - if nothing else, if you can pick one up cheap you're probably guaranteed to resell it for way more if you do an eBay number on it and talk up its "legendary" status :-)
Not quite macro but still close enough with tubes:
Cats-eye bokeh, with cat for good measure:
f/2.8 is always handy for stopping action in bad light:
Pick out a face in the crowd:
Who needs AF for gig shots?
Originally posted at 2:55PM, 17 June 2008 PDT
SteveFE edited this topic 28 months ago.