Trying the Trioplan

I like sharp photos: probably because most of my subjects are landscape and architecture. Also in case of wildlife close-ups, where bokeh makes sense, I like to see fine details in the focused area (such as feathers in a bird, or fur in a mammal). For this reason I carefully pick very sharp lenses for my equipment. I realize there are also other approaches to photography and, just to see things from an opposite perspective, I gave me the self-assignment of trying them. One alternate approach is blur for moving subjects, but so far I wasn't even close to learn a decent technique; another approach is to use a lens with a specific “personality” in the bokeh, which is perhaps more affine to my skills. Furthermore, my new mirrorless camera opened up a lot of possibilities about mounting a vintage lens - so I bought a Meyer-Optik Görlitz Trioplan 100mm f2.8 to start exploring in this area.

Cônes d'Épicéa commun (Picea abies).

Sony NEX-6 + Meyer-Optik Görlitz Trioplan 100mm ƒ/2.8 @ 100 mm, 1/80 sec @ ƒ/2.8, ISO 100, hand-held.

I must say that I don't like a relevant number of photos that have been taken with this lens, curiously because of the very reason for which most people like the lens (and even win international prizes): the striking “soap bubble” effect that bright spots in the background produce at full aperture. But, looking at other samples, I've seen that the lens can deliver a subtler effect. It is definitely pleasing with subjects such as flowers - and flowers are another assignment that I gave myself for this spring and summer. So I decided to practice with the Trioplan for a few months before deciding whether to keep or resell it.

I like to try things in an incremental way, so the first attempt was just aimed at handling the lens and using the “focus peaking” feature of my NEX-6, without searching for a specific subject capable to bring out the typical features of the lens. I was a bit worried because I'm notoriously unable to manual focus, at least with the optic viewfinder of the camera bodies I've used so far. The first test was passed without a glitch, in hand held mode. But I discovered that the minimal focusing distance, about one metre, is not short enough for small subjects such a pine cone (in fact I had to take a whole group).

Cônes d'Épicéa commun (Picea abies).

Sony NEX-6 + Meyer-Optik Görlitz Trioplan 100mm ƒ/2.8 @ 100 mm, 1/250 sec @ ƒ/2.8, ISO 100, hand-held.

The problem can be solved in the classic way, by using an extension tube (fortunately I bought a copy of the Trioplan with the M42 mount, for which there's plenty of available tubes). The following set of trials took advantage of a 8mm tube, which proved to be enough for subjects such as poppies. Here I couldn't resist in stopping down a bit (probably around ƒ/3.2 - the aperture ring can be adjusted smoothly) and I was probably wrong because the specific effects of the lens seem to vanish very quickly when maximum aperture is not used. In the photo below water droplets have been artificially added with a nebuliser (in fact, the pattern of droplets on the flower doesn't look natural).

Spiga e papavero.

Sony NEX-6 + Meyer-Optik Görlitz Trioplan 100mm ƒ/2.8 @ 100 mm, 1/500 sec @ ƒ/3.2, ISO 100, 8mm extension tube, tripod.

The latest trial was done with Poet's Daffodils, trying both the direct sunlight and the use of a light diffuser. The lens produces interesting results even in the former case, softening the harsh light into a pleasing effect. So far, so good.

Narcisi dei poeti (Narcissus poeticus).

Sony NEX-6 + Meyer-Optik Görlitz Trioplan 100mm ƒ/2.8 @ 100 mm, 1/1000 sec @ ƒ/2.8, ISO 100, 8mm extension tube, tripod.

Narcisi dei poeti (Narcissus poeticus).

Sony NEX-6 + Meyer-Optik Görlitz Trioplan 100mm ƒ/2.8 @ 100 mm, 1/1000 sec @ ƒ/2.8, ISO 100, 8mm extension tube, tripod.