Meyer Orestors & Orestegors - are they tasty?
recently some German lenses came across my path - Meyer-Optik Orestor 100/2.8, Orestor 135/2.8, and Orestegor 200/4 in M42 version - all in very good state, smooth moving parts, super clean glass, and it costs only US $100 per lot. Judging from the look, all of them were made in mid-sixties. The question is, what these lenses are? Are they good or bad? The mechanical part seems to be excellent, but I just have never had any experience with Meyer lenses. They appear to have a regular bluish coating, the glass looks like that of old Zeiss lenses - heavy and yellowish, and all of them have pre-set apertures. I believe that Germans just didn't make bad lenses, but I want to know your opinion about the beasts before I buy them
Regards from Russia,
At current prices, US$100 is fair for this trio of lenses. I have all three, and they are good. Hugo Meyer & Co. was bought out by Pentacon in the 1960s and all these three lenses were later rebadged under the Pentacon label.
The Orestor are Sonnar-derived lenses, the 135/2.8 version continued to be produced for a very very long time in many incarnations. The 100/2.8 is comparatively short-lived but by its focal length and imagining quality I use it more often. The Orestegor is more of a Tele-Tessar-related design using thin elements and is also quite excellent in imaging quality.
Do bear in mind that the 100/2.8 has manual diaphragm, while the 135/2.8 and 100/4 have preset-manual diaphragms. The yellowing should be a little more serious on the 135/2.8, but if you are shooting black-and-white it should not present itself to be a major problem.
Somewhere I have some images shot with an Orestor 135/2.8 that I borrowed while still at school around 1970. I used the lens on my Zenit E and it was extremely sharp.
Meyer optics were used by both Pentacon (Praktika M42 screw) and also on Exactas in bayonet mount. Both manufacturers offered a line up of budget Meyer optics or the more expensive and wider range of Carl Ziess Jena lenses.
Most of the Meyer M42 lenses were very reasonable performers, the exception being the 50mm f2.8 Domiplan.
Being a very long established lens manufacturer, Meyer produced many types and generations of lenses over the years. What I call the "O" series, as in Orestegon, Oreston, Orestor, Orestegor (in increasing focal length) which came out some time in the late 1960s, was its first completely unified design especially for the 35mm reflex, prior to that its offerings were a little slap-dash in planning.
The Domiplan was something of an odd man out as it was designed to be the budget lens: based on the Trioplan its performance is much better, and in absolute still very acceptable when stopped down to about f/5.6 or f/8, and when used with extra extension the performance is sterling.
It is a common belief that Pentacon (and up to a point, Exakta) used Meyer as a second-tier lens supplier, while Zeiss was the top-drawer supplier. However, looking at the lens ranges available at any one time, there were indeed overlaps but by-and-large the lenses by these two makers compliment each other. For instance, over a long period, Zeiss supplied ultra wideangle and moderate wide angle lenses (20mm and 35mm) while Meyer filled in the gap with its 28mm, 29mm and 30mm lenses at various periods.
When the chips are down, I do not mind Meyer lenses; in fact I have used Meyer lenses from all ages, from a Wide Angle Aristostigmat to the latest, and I do like the imaging quality a lot.
As Meyer and Carl Zeiss Jena were both State run companies it's highly likley that it was deliberate that Ziess made their few higher end lenses. They were supposed in test reports to be slightly better than the Meyer lenses.
It was the sales and marketing of the lenses that thrust the Ziess lenses forward as "Top Draw" I kept a few old 1960's photo magazines from when I was at school and it's clear in all the adds for Praktica and Exacta cameras.
I still have a Meyer Lydith 29/30mm Exacta fit and used a later version, Pentacon 29mm, for a while on a Spotmatic. Personally I've never used a duff or bad Meyer lens, I have 2 Exacta fit Domiplans which I've never used at all.
On the other hand in 1971 I bought a S/H Prakticamat with a Ziess f1.8 Pancolor lens, it was sharp but exposure wise the camera was not consistent and I wasn't happy with it. One day I discovered that the lens didn't always shut to the correct aperture every time.
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