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  • Writer's pictureZsolt Varanka

TTArtisan 100/2.8 vs. Meyer Optik Görlitz Trioplan 100mm f/2.8 - Should you ‘upgrade’?


Introduction

The art of photography often sees the merging of past and present technologies, creating a bridge between the vintage charm of yesteryears and the cutting-edge precision of modern optics. This weekend, I delved into such a fusion by testing the contemporary TTArtisan 100/2.8 lens against the over 65 years old, legendary Meyer Optik Görlitz Trioplan 100mm f/2.8. My quest was not merely to evaluate the performance of the new lens by my own interest but to see if it could match or surpass the classic Trioplan, which graces my personal collection.


TTArtisan 100/2.8 vs. Meyer Optik Görlitz Trioplan 100mm f/2.8
TTArtisan 100/2.8 vs. Meyer Optik Görlitz Trioplan 100mm f/2.8

Methodology

For a fair comparison, I anchored a Sony A7IV to a tripod and meticulously maintained consistent settings across both lenses. With the white balance fixed at 4000K and ISO set at 100, I embarked on a series of indoor and outdoor shoots, ensuring that each frame was refocused without altering the environmental conditions. Post-capture, I entrusted Adobe Lightroom with RAW image processing, applying automatic chromatic aberration removal and uniform tone and contrast settings to facilitate an impartial comparison.


Comparative Insights: TTArtisan vs. Trioplan


Build and Ergonomics

  • Construction: The build quality of the TTArtisan is a notable improvement over my golden Trioplan, with a more robust feel, a smoother focus experience, and a clicky aperture ring that is absent in the Trioplan, enhancing the tactile experience of the Chinese glass.

  • Material Choices: Despite some questions on the practicality of the black painted aluminium lens caps, these choices contribute to a premium vintage aesthetic.

Focus and Macro

  • Close Focus Distance: The TTArtisan boasts a 10-15% smaller close focus distance, offering slightly greater magnification potential for semi-macro shots.

  • Extension Tube Compatibility: Both lenses perform admirably with extension tubes, but the TTArtisan, with its closer focus, may edge out slightly ahead.


Test scenario (full frame image) for wide open tests. 10mm extension tube used, subject distance: 75 cm.
Test scenario (full frame image) for wide open tests. 10mm extension tube used, subject distance: 75 cm.

Comparing 1 to 1 magnification crops of the above test frame for Trioplan vs the TTArtisan. Notice the bubble bokeh edge quality difference (the TTArtisan has less color fringe and a thinner, more elegant bubble frame). The Chinese lens also exhibits more details and sharpness and better color fidelity as compared to the Trioplan)
Comparing 1 to 1 magnification crops of the above test frame for Trioplan vs the TTArtisan. Notice the bubble bokeh edge quality difference (the TTArtisan has less color fringe and a thinner, more elegant bubble frame). The Chinese lens also exhibits more details and sharpness and better color fidelity as compared to the Trioplan)

Trioplan at f/2.8: Macro capability with bokeh balls. 10mm + 16mm extension tubes were applied. Subject distance: 55cm.
Trioplan at f/2.8: Macro capability with bokeh balls. 10mm + 16mm extension tubes were applied. Subject distance: 55cm.

TTArtisan at f/2.8: Macro capability with bokeh balls. 10mm + 16mm extension tubes were applied. Notice the slightly better sharpness and subject definition, cooler, more faithful tones, more neutral, refined bubble bokeh as compared to its well aged predecessor. Subject distance: 55cm.
TTArtisan at f/2.8: Macro capability with bokeh balls. 10mm + 16mm extension tubes were applied. Notice the slightly better sharpness and subject definition, cooler, more faithful tones, more neutral, refined bubble bokeh as compared to its well aged predecessor. Subject distance: 55cm.

Optical Characteristics

  • Sharpness: The TTArtisan lens presents sharper results both in the centre and at the edges, though at a wide aperture, it is merely satisfactory compared to the overly soft Trioplan. Center and APSC-corner sharpness improves when stopping down, but corners remain blurry, but who cares, this type of lens is bought for its special bokeh rendering used at wide open!


Sharpness & resolution test chart (full image) showing the chosen area for the center and side crops for the following, 1 to 1 magnification images. Subject distance: 160cm
Sharpness & resolution test chart (full image) showing the chosen area for the center and side crops for the following, 1 to 1 magnification images. Subject distance: 160cm

Comparing sharpness and clarity / contrast of Trioplan (up) and the TTArtisan lens (below) at 1 to 1 crop, wide open (f/2.8, left) and at f/8 (right) at the center of the image. The TTArtisan exhibits a little, but noticeable advantage for sharpness and clarity
Comparing sharpness and clarity / contrast of Trioplan (up) and the TTArtisan lens (below) at 1 to 1 crop, wide open (f/2.8, left) and at f/8 (right) at the center of the image. The TTArtisan exhibits a little, but noticeable advantage for sharpness and clarity

Comparing sharpness and clarity / contrast of Trioplan (up) and the TTArtisan lens (below) at 1 to 1 magnification, wide open (f/2.8) and at f/8 at the sides. The TTArtisan is a bit better for sharpness and clarity
Comparing sharpness and clarity / contrast of Trioplan (up) and the TTArtisan lens (below) at 1 to 1 magnification, wide open (f/2.8) and at f/8 at the sides. The TTArtisan is a bit better for sharpness and clarity

  • Image Quality at Wide Aperture: Both lenses exhibit a dreamy haziness when wide open, a characteristic that is treasured for the very bubble bokeh they are celebrated for.

 

  • Chromatic Aberrations: While both lenses share similar tendencies in longitudinal chromatic aberration (LoCA), less lateral chromatic aberrations (LaCA) were noted in the bokeh balls (as distinct orange and blue rings), with the TTArtisan also showing a reduced tendency for haloing at the edges.


Comparing the Lateral Chromatic Aberrations for the Trioplan (at f/2.8 and f/8) (above) vs. the TTArtisan (below). They are quite identical with the difference of a little more clarity / contrast by theTTArtisan (so a bit more discoloration seen in the deeper blacks)
Comparing the Lateral Chromatic Aberrations for the Trioplan (at f/2.8 and f/8) (above) vs. the TTArtisan (below). They are quite identical with the difference of a little more clarity / contrast by theTTArtisan (so a bit more discoloration seen in the deeper blacks)

  • Flare and ghosting: To my surprise, the TTArtisan was observed to be more prone to lens flare when strong light sources were within or just outside the frame. A minor disappointment comes from the absence of a lens hood with the TTArtisan, a feature that would complete its presentation. Definitely recommend to purchase a cheap, matching screw-in aluminium lens hood with pinch-in plastic front cap for better flare resistance and more convenience to use.


The TTArtisan was observed to be more prone to lens flare when strong light sources were within or just outside the frame (Trioplan left, TTArtisan right). Light source: video led light (above), led torch (below).
The TTArtisan was observed to be more prone to lens flare when strong light sources were within or just outside the frame (Trioplan left, TTArtisan right). Light source: video led light (above), led torch (below).

  • Bubble Bokeh Quality: It's advantageous that the TTArtisan maintains bokeh balls of consistent size and shape across the centre and edges, mirroring its vintage counterpart. However, the TTArtisan produced bubble bokeh with diminished chromatic aberration, narrower and more aesthetically pleasing edges. Its bokeh was a tad less edgy, with a smoother transition when compared to the Trioplan possessing more finesse and elegance. The bokeh shape is more smooth and round at f/4 of TTArtisan due to its curvy aperture blades, while it is already polygonal edgy of the Trioplan.


Test frame for bubble bokeh analysis (bokeh fringing and area uniformity) and subject sharpness. Subject distance: 113 cm.
Test frame for bubble bokeh analysis (bokeh fringing and area uniformity) and subject sharpness. Subject distance: 113 cm.

Trioplan (left) vs TTArtisan (right) bubble bokeh quality and subject sharpness wide open (f/2.8) crops compare of the above test frame. Notice the TTArtisan wins in terms of the bubble bokeh lateral chromatic aberration level, bokeh uniformity, subject sharpness and diminished glowing / fringing / haloing edges.
Trioplan (left) vs TTArtisan (right) bubble bokeh quality and subject sharpness wide open (f/2.8) crops compare of the above test frame. Notice the TTArtisan wins in terms of the bubble bokeh lateral chromatic aberration level, bokeh uniformity, subject sharpness and diminished glowing / fringing / haloing edges.

Trioplan (left) vs TTArtisan (right) bokeh at f/4. While the Trioplan bokeh is noticeably edgy and starts to show starburst effect the TTArtisan bokeh balls are still smooth and round thanks to the curvy aperture blades.
Trioplan (left) vs TTArtisan (right) bokeh at f/4. While the Trioplan bokeh is noticeably edgy and starts to show starburst effect the TTArtisan bokeh balls are still smooth and round thanks to the curvy aperture blades.

  • Colour Reproduction: The Trioplan lens has a noticeable brownish-yellow colour shift which affects the original colours' fidelity, whereas the TTArtisan maintains a cooler, more accurate and deeper colour tone due to its modern coatings.

  • Contrast: A striking observation was the less 'cloudy' appearance in the blacks from the TTArtisan lens, indicating a cleaner contrast.

Trioplan at f/2.8: full frame demonstration of colour reproduction, bubble bokeh shape around the frame, bubble bokeh edge, subject sharpness, contrast and lateral chromatic aberrations
Trioplan at f/2.8: full frame demonstration of colour reproduction, bubble bokeh shape around the frame, bubble bokeh edge, subject sharpness, contrast and lateral chromatic aberrations

TTArtisan at f/2.8: full frame demonstration of colour reproduction, bubble bokeh shape around the frame, bubble bokeh edge, subject sharpness, contrast and lateral chromatic aberrations
TTArtisan at f/2.8: full frame demonstration of colour reproduction, bubble bokeh shape around the frame, bubble bokeh edge, subject sharpness, contrast and lateral chromatic aberrations

 

Overall Experience

Despite a shared tendency towards haziness at wide apertures, both lenses impressively embrace their identity; they are not crafted for pixel-level scrutiny but for the enchanting bubble bokeh and smooth background blur they produce.

 

Verdict

The TTArtisan 100mm f/2.8 is not just a replication but an evolution of the vintage triplet, the Trioplan's legacy. It encapsulates the essence of a characteristic vintage lens and imbues it with modern enhancements. The Chinese-made TTArtisan lens mirrors the soulful projection of the Trioplan, yet surpasses it with sharper resolution, richer colour rendition, less distracting optical aberrations and a more substantial feel. While elevating the artistic appearance of the quintessential bubble bokeh, the TTArtisan emerges as a financially sound alternative, presenting an opportunity to own a slice of history without the vintage price tag. The TTArtisan 100mm f/2.8 lens stands as a testament to the marriage of nostalgic aesthetic and contemporary precision, rendering it a wise choice for the bokeh enthusiast. Had I not already owned the Trioplan, the TTArtisan would unquestionably be my go-to for its value and performance, thus cementing its place in the photographer's modern-day classic repertoire. Would you upgrade to the better performing Chinese iteration?


The Kickstarter-backed, modern iteration of the Trioplan—the (still manual focus) Meyer Optik Görlitz Trioplan 100mm f/2.8 version II, with its steeper price tag of 1000 Euros, has not been part of my journey. My decision steered clear of this investment, primarily as the sample images didn't showcase further value that could justify the cost, which is matching a fast, modern, autofocus lens, particularly when juxtaposed with the TTArtisan's 200 Euro offering.


In closing, the TTArtisan 100mm f/2.8 lens demonstrates that you don't need to break the bank to capture the spirit of photography's golden age. It's a respectful nod to tradition with a practical approach for today's creative explorers. Bravo indeed, TTArtisan, for this remarkable feat of optical alchemy. Checkmate!



Further sample images - all taken with TTArtisan 100mm f/2.8 @f/2.8:


TTArtisan 100mm f/2.8 @f/2.8


TTArtisan 100mm f/2.8 @f/2.8


TTArtisan 100mm f/2.8 @f/2.8

TTArtisan 100mm f/2.8 @f/2.8

TTArtisan 100mm f/2.8 @f/2.8


Werk shots about the indoor 'lab' test scenarios:

The best macro shots are taken on the kitchen table!
The best macro shots are taken on the kitchen table!

The living room is the second best place to test any optics!
The living room is the second best place to test any optics!

The living room is the second best place to test the optics!
When need large background and distance to test bokeh go to the living room and hang christmas lights in front of the curtain!

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