For all of you lens-heads out there, we can all agree that there’s nothing more satisfying than finding a new, cool, and unique vintage lens to try out with your favorite camera for the first time.
Usually, these lenses are old themselves and can instantly help a project connect back to a simpler—and I’d dare say, more cinematic—time when cameras and lenses had a specific analog look, color, and tone.
But what’s really behind these vintage lenses? And can these manufacturers actually recreate their vintage looks themselves with their newest editions? Or will all lens-heads need to fight over the same finite number of historic options?
Well, Meyer Optik Görlitz seems to think it can make a modern version of old glass.
Credit: Meyer Optik Görlitz
The Return of Meyer Optik Görlitz
If we’re getting technical, you can trace the origins of Meyer Optik Görlitz back to its original optical company founded in 1896 by optician Hugo Meyer and businessman Heinrich Schätze. Their initial company was known for developing its own “wide-angle Aristostigmat lens” back in the earliest days of modern lens technology.
Where it all startedCredit: Meyer Optik Görlitz
By the 1920s, though, the Meyer Optik Görlitz company partnered with a former Zeiss lens developer named Paul Rudolph, who pushed the brand into developing Planar and Tessar style lenses.
After World War II, the company eventually settled into producing lenses for cameras, which is where its legacy begins to connect with film and video professionals today.
Exploring the Secrets of Almost 100-Year-Old Glass
As you can see in this cool video featurette put out by YouTube channel SilvergrainClassics, there have been many rumors surrounding new Meyer Görlitz lenses, which can unlock the secrets of glass from almost 100 years ago.
Featured in the video, using these old formulas and secrets, Meyer Görlitz can recreate that classic vintage lens look with those iconic swirly bokeh and soap bubble bokeh styles. Our host takes us through some facilities of OPC Optics to explore how these lenses are manufactured today and some of the fascinating science and techniques at work.
New Meyer Optik Görlitz lensesCredit: Meyer Optik Görlitz
Finding and Working with Vintage Lenses
But the question remains—what should modern film and video professionals do with vintage lenses or glass based on vintage designs? And how can you best harness their beautiful styles and looks?
That question is actually best answered by you. While you can always scour garage sales and estate sales looking for old lenses to collect, the process can require quite a bit of luck. If you’re lucky enough to find someone with an old 35mm camera collection, you might find some very cool 50mm lenses to add to your toolkit.
- Full-Frame Format
- Aperture Range: f/2.8 to f/22
- Revised Triplet Optical Design
- Coated Schott Optical Glass
- Distinct Soap Bubble Bokeh
- Manual Focus Design
- Minimum Focus Distance: 15.7"
- Filter Thread: 52mm
- 12 AR-Coated Aperture Blades
You can also look online at auction sites like eBay, but at the end of the day, you’re only going to be able to rely on luck and the budget at your disposal. Your best bet might be to work on finding what lenses you can naturally, but also strive to create the best vintage looks you can on your own. However, with Meyer Optik Görlitz now releasing modern lenses based on its old designs, the fine line between vintage look and modern glass is slowly fading away.
Chances are you might have a cinematographer friend or two who might have a few vintage lenses in their bags. But even they might tell you that these vintage looks work well for certain stylized shoots but will rarely ever replace your main camera and lens setup for the majority of your shooting needs.
It’s up to you, though—what vintage lenses are you interested in exploring? Let us know in the comments!