Feb 8, 2024

Meyer Optik Görlitz Biotar 75mm F1.5 II Review

Introduction

The history of photography is marked by a few select lenses which influence how modern lenses are designed even today. The Petzval, double Gauss and Cook triplet are examples of this, and most current lenses can trace their ancestry to one of these three or a few others.

One such design is the Biotar. Originating from the Double Gauss (see the next section for a more detailed history), the Biotar was created at Carl Zeiss Jena before the second World War. First uses of the Biotar design led to the creation of a 50mm F1.4 and 58mm F2 lenses. The Helios-44 was quickly released in the USSR as a clone/version of the Biotar. One of the best-known applications of the Biotar design (for some, the only version they know!) was Willi Merté's Biotar 75mm F1.5. This lens offered excellent center sharpness, remarkable control over aberrations, excellent light-gathering abilities and unique rendering. Indeed, it produced what is often known as "swirly bokeh", an effect caused by the deformed shape of out-of-focus highlights near the edges. This effect can be seen as disturbing, but can also be a sought-after look which can enhance pictures.

The three original versions of the Biotar 75mm F1.5 are still sought after today. At launch, the original version was the fastest portrait lens available. It is still among the fastest today.  Knowing this, Meyer Optik Görlitz decided to bring this legendary design back to life, keeping faith with the original design but bringing modern improvements to the lens. The company's Biotar 75mm F1.5 II, released in August 2023, is a fully manual lens, made entirely of metal, available for most mirrorless and DSLR lens mounts, such as Nikon Z, Sony E, Canon RF, and of course Pentax K.

The lens promises to keep faith with the original qualities and characteristics of the original Biotar 75mm, bringing this design into the 21st century. Handcrafted in Germany, it boasts an interesting pedigree. How does the lens perform with modern cameras? Can it stand up to the test of time? Read our review to find out!


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