Meyer-Optik Görlitz Lydith 30mm f/3.5

Introduction

Here I will describe my experience with the Meyer-Optik Görlitz Lydith 30mm f/3.5 lens. The lens is a manual focusing prime lens in Exakta mount and was made for 35mm SLR cameras. It appeared on the market in 1964 and was built until 1971. My father used the lens when he was young and later I made my first photographic experience with his gear. This lens has also some personal value to me, and I was very curious to use it on my Olympus OM-D E-M10. Thanks to the in-body image stabilisation, focus peaking and view magnification it is very easy and comfortable to use manual lenses on Olympus OM-D cameras. This is not a normal lens review as someone would expect for a new lens. I use the lens just for fun, because I like to play and try techniques or equipment besides the standard way. In the end, the performance of this lens surprised me a lot (in a positive way)!

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Built quality

The lens is from a time where plastic was not used in such an abundance like these days. So the lens is of course made of metal, and has a solid and serious appearance. The focus ring turns very easy and is not much damped, which feels actually not bad, it gives the feeling of very fast and easy focusing. The aperture ring has no stops and is click-less. Might be pretty good for video shooting, but for photography it is not that good, as the aperture can be easily changed without noticing it. The preset function of the aperture control ring is a nice feature. By pulling the ring towards the front element, it can be rotated freely and set to the desired aperture. Later when the aperture control ring is rotated, it will stop at the chosen f-stop. This is pretty useful for changing between maximum opening for focusing, and desired aperture for shooting. Overall the lens is very compact and light. Even with the lens mount adapter it is still not too big, and fits nicely to a M4/3 camera.

Focal length 30 mm
Elements / groups 5 / 5
Closest focusing distance 0.33 m
Maximum aperture f/3.5
Minimum aperture f/22
Diaphragm blades 10
Filter size 49 mm
Weight 177 g
Length 45 mm

Optical quality

The optical quality is probably the greatest surprise. It is pretty good. The focal length of 30 mm on a camera with M4/3 sensor has an angle of view of 39.6°. This is equivalent to a 60 mm focal length on a 35mm sensor (so-called “full frame”). On cameras with smaller sensors this lens changes from a wide-angle lens to a standard prime lens.

Angle of view (35mm sensor) 71.6°
Angle of view (APS-C) 48.2°
Angle of view (M4/3) 39.6°

The lens is very sharp across the whole image area. At f/3.5 it is a bit soft in the center, but nothing really to worry about. Stopped down the lens becomes sharp. At f/16 it is getting soft again and at f/22 it is noticeable soft in the center. The corner sharpness is okay. For larger apertures (f/3.5 and f/4) the corners are a bit soft and there is a tendency for some chromatic aberration. Stopped down to f/5.6 the corner sharpness improves a lot, and at smaller apertures the corners are sharp. The best sharpness performance is at f/8 and f/11, at these apertures the lens is sharp from corner to corner. Below are 100% crops of center and corner images taken at different apertures.

Center sharpness (Click on image for larger version)
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Corner sharpness (Click on image for larger version)

Bokeh of the lens is not bad. It is not an awesome creamy buttery soft bokeh, but also not a harsh and disturbing one. Chromatic aberration is almost not visible, probably a result of the simple construction with only 5 elements. In some situations it can be noticeable. There is an example photo below. But normally it is well controlled and you need to zoom into the image a lot to find something. I have seen much worse chromatic aberration from newer lenses. One drawback of the lens is its flare. During daylight it is not visible but for night shots it can be a problem. Especially when the light sources are pointing directly to the lens. I guess it comes from the non-existing coating of the lens. But when you know about it, it is easy to control and avoid. The lens is free of distortion, or at least it is not noticeable.

Examples

Here are example photos which I took with this lens. All photos are slightly post-processed, which includes adjustment of white balance, exposure compensation, adjustment of shadows or highlights. No distortion correction was applied as well as no manipulation of the colors. All photos are scaled down for this webpage.

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In the night shot some flaring around the street lamps can be seen. On the other hand the 10 blades diaphragm creates nice light stars.

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Around the purple lights at the tip of Taipei 101 some glow (flare?) can be seen. I think it is not so bad, but for purists it might be disturbing. The glow in the sky is light pollution from surrounding high-rise buildings.

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The photo below of the National Concert Hall illustrates the sharpness of the lens quite well. All details of the roof are clearly visible (check high-resolution photo in the flickr album).

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…some bokeh…

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The only photo with visibly chromatic aberration: the bright part inside the lantern.

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A 100% crop of the lantern to show the chromatic aberration. It should be possible to fix this in post processing.

chroma

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Shot wide open and at closest focusing distance.

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…and some more bokeh…

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So many things are forbidden here 😉

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Conclusions

In my opinion this is a great lens. The optical quality is really great, it produces nice balanced colors, and is easy to handle. The lens is light and compact and fits very good to a M4/3 system. With an aperture of f/3.5 the lens is not very fast, but for me it is okay. One drawback is the tendency of flare in night shots. I would say that this is a great lens to enter the world of vintage lenses without disappointing surprises.

Pro:

  • great optical quality
  • sharp from corner to corner
  • light and compact
  • easy focus and handling
  • perfect as standard lens for M4/3 systems
  • relatively cheap

Con:

  • f/3.5 might be too slow for some situations
  • tendency to flare in night shots
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