The Görlitz Orestor 135mm f2.8 is a fast telephoto lens from Meyer-Optik. Manufactured in Dresden between 1966 and 1978, it shares the same optical design as the earlier versions of the Pentacon 135mm f2.8, but commands a higher price. With an aperture diaphragm made up of 15 blades, and 5 elements in 4 groups, the lens is often described as the ‘King of Bokeh’, or the ‘bokeh monster’. When you stop it down you can see how beautifully crafted it is.
With an all metal and glass construction, this lens is as solid as they come. Its relatively compact size and hefty weight have seen it described as a ‘hand grenade’, which seems pretty apt – though it’s probably not the best phraseology to use if you are carrying this through an airport.
Meyer-Optik v. Pentacon
As noted above, this lens was also produced under the Pentacon name after a merge between the two companies. While the earlier ‘preset’ versions of the Pentacon are optically identical, later ‘auto’ versions are not. Most notably, the latter have just 6 aperture blades, compared to the 15(!) in the Meyer-Optik. You can easily tell the difference by the minimum aperture, which is f32 in the original lenses, as opposed to f22 on the 6-bladed version. While the Meyer-Optik and earlier Pentacon lenses are more desirable than the later ones (in that order), I have personally only owned and used the original Meyer-Optik with black and chrome ‘zebra’ detailing, so that’s what this post is based on. Only the best for me, naturally.
- 49mm filter thread.
- Minimum focus distance of 150cm.
- Max aperture f2.8, minimum f32.
- Various mounts available – most notably M42.
Since this lens was designed for 35mm film cameras, it can be used on full frame bodies like the Sony A7 with an appropriate adaptor. Of course you can also use it with APS-C sized sensors, if you can deal with the resulting crop factor, and effective extension in the focal length. In practice, I’ve found that to be pretty useful for some additional reach at events.
You’d be forgiven for assuming that a fast telephoto lens from years gone by might be woefully soft. However, I am pleased to report that this isn’t the case. Sure, it might not win any prizes from the pixel-peeping glass-fondlers – but they shouldn’t be using gear like this anyway.
When the Orestor first arrived I was surprised at how compact it was for a telephoto… and have to say that with its size and weight (500ish grams) it’s probably the most ergonomically satisfying lens I’ve used in a while. If you are shooting this on something like a Sony A7, you will of course have to deal with the added size from the M42 adaptor, which is pretty annoying.
Despite it being a rather pleasing thing… it has taken me forever to get enough pictures together for this post. The reason for that isn’t really anything to do with the quality of the lens itself, but rather because 135mm is a particularly long focal length – and not one I have much call for. Shooting portraits is kind of out of the question, as you have to be a fair distance from your subject, which means shouting – not conducive to a natural rapport. With that said, it is the longest and fastest of the lenses that I own (ever since selling my fancy Canon 70-200 lenses) – and it comes in handy for the very infrequent events or gigs that I find myself roped into. Even if focussing manually is a bit of a pain.
Cost and Availability
These lenses used to go for as cheap as £20, but as with many M42 lenses have shot up in price since the proliferation of digital bodies like the A7. You can still pick up the ‘auto’ or ‘electric’ versions in the region of £30, but the earlier models start at about £75. Fungus seems to be a common issue, but at the time of writing, you can regularly find the zebra striped Meyer-Optik lenses in ‘mint’ vintage condition for around about £100.