The Legendary Lydith; Simply Great.

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by rick_drawbridge, Aug 16, 2013.

  1. This simple little lens has acquired quite a cult following, and I'd often wondered why. Now I know. Its the 30mm Meyer-Optik Gorlitz "Lydith" f/3.5.
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  2. Founded in 1896 by Hugo Meyer, his optical works in the town of Görlitz, East Germany produced many excellent and innovative lenses in the decades preceding WWII, mainly in Exacta and M42 mounts. In 1946 the business was nationalised under the title "VEB Feinoptisches Werk Görlitz", and retained the name until 1968 when it was absorbed into the Pentacon organisation. In 1964 the Lydith appeared, apparently as a budget wide-angle alternative to the excellent but expensive Carl Zeiss Flektogon. It soon became the Pentacon 3.5/30, and it's Meyer origins were submerged, in much the same manner as my cherished 50mm Meyer-Optik Gorlitz Oreston f/1.8's, which became the Pentacon Auto 50/1.8.

    The Lydith is a very simple lens, lightly constructed, in the pre-set manual format. It has 5 element in 5 groups, a 10-bladed iris, and focuses down to about 30cm (12 inches), giving it a semi-macro capability. With a minimum aperture of f/22, immense depth of field is attainable. Coatings are present, but appear to be minimal. I've been after one for a couple of years, but as awareness of the lens's quality increased, the international prices kept pace. By a stroke of fortune this one with it's M42 mount appeared on our local auction among some other odds and ends, and it came my way for a reasonable sum; one of the few advantages of living at the ends of the earth is the occasional lack of informed competition when such items appear.
  3. The photographic community has discovered the Lydith's exceptional sharpness, contrast and colour fidelity and it's wonderful ability to create images with that indefinable "presence" that I find so appealing in the Oreston. It's hard to explain the sense of depth and dimension that the lens brings to an image, and I hope the few samples I'll post give some illustration of these qualities. I find it's images more vibrant than those from the Flektogon, but that may just be a subjective impression.

    I fiitted the Lydith to an old full-frame Canon 5D for these images, and while it's probably a little off-topic for this forum, here's a tip; 5D users will be aware that some of these classic lenses foul the mirror when focused to infinity, and the Lydith is one of them. I fit a very skinny "O" ring into the back of the adapter to hold the lens fractionally away from the camera, and while infinity focus is obtainable only at very small apertures, there's a trade-off in that the macro ability is improved, as the spacer acts like a mini-extension ring. This same trick works with many classic lenses on film cameras; by fitting the ring around the lens's mounting thread a better close-focus ability is achieved.
  4. I'll post some larger images, and apologise for the inconvenience of having to open them separately, but the smaller ones really don't do justice to the lens. I hope you find some to your liking.
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  15. Great pictures as usual from a master of photography.
    I hope you and your family are okay after the earthquake the other day. And you did not suffer any damage.
  16. Awesome results. I don't think I've ever seen one of these lenses before. Thanks for an informative post.
  17. Thanks Richard, all OK, though it's all a little unsettling, even though I'm accustomed to the quakes. It's the little aftershocks that keep the tension high; the monitor trembles now and then as I type. I'm pleased you and Mike enjoyed the post.
  18. Very interesting Rick. The photos are wonderful.
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  19. Really interesting Rick. I have a Lydith somewhere, I think in Exackta mount, but have never used it! The images, as always, are impressive and I especially like the last one as a great exercise in colour.
    Pleased to see a little bit of peeling paint sneaking in there too!
    Thanks for the heads up on Meyer, an interesting company that has produced some really nice optics, and a few clangers too!
  20. OK Rick, you really need to compile all these posts into a book. Every time I see your name on a post I know I'm in for a treat and settle in with a cup of coffee for a little more photographic history.
    On another note.
    That lens cross section is very reminiscent of the 25mm f4 Zuiko for Pen F cameras. Of course 25mm on 1/2 frame has about the same angle of view as 35mm on full frame so not quite as wide. But both cross sections look almost identical and the Zuiko is f4, only 1/3 stop slower than f3.5
  21. Excellent, as we have come to expect. :)
    Nice tip about the O-ring to space the lens away from the 5D mirror.
    Meyer was for a long time the DDR source for "bargain" lenses, although some of their lenses are very good indeed (although the less said about the 50mm Domiplan, the better). The problem was usually not the optical quality but the mechanics of the thing.
    I have the Lydith in M42 mount, and it works very well. I do prefer the Flektogon, myself, but both are excellent, as your results show.
  22. My Lydith is also in M42 mount and has been used mostly with Minolta X-700 or Canon F-1 cameras with adapters. I didn't know about the lens until I read Ivor Matanle's book on SLR cameras. I was lucky to find one in good condition for a reasonable price. This lens and my 35/3.5 Noflexar (also in M42 mount) are my favorite oddball M42 mount lenses. The Noflexar has gone way up in price. Very nice photos.
  23. Everything the slightest bit wide and "xxxtsch" in construction has now gone through the roof. You'd think one or the other like Meyer would slip under the radar.... Great shots excellent examples of what you wanted to show. The uniqueness of the images. I would like to have this lens or a Flektogon in either M42 or Exacta mount.. I find the vibrant colors and the exciting depth in these images alluring to say the least.
  24. The construction looks as though it was a direct ancestor of Nikon's Series E 28/2.8 and 35/2.5.
  25. Rick, I like the big shots best. Detail is great. Enjoyed the post.

  26. ... and it's wonderful ability to create images with that indefinable "presence" that I find so appealing in the Oreston. It's hard to explain the sense of depth and dimension that the lens brings to an image,...​

    Meyer used to produce lenses for the Movie industry. Perhaps, that explains the characteristics of "rendering" that we find in the Oreston, Lydith, etc. I have a few Lydiths in both Exakta and Praktica mounts. Really like them.
    I am sure your pictures will enhance the Ebay price of the Lydiths. Beautiful pictures, as usual. Thanks, sp.
  27. I have possessed Matanle's books for years, but I was unaware of this lens. Great performance in the hands of a master.
  28. Great responses! The Lydith is one of my favourite lenses, high on the list of lenses that gets picked up if I just want to go out and take photographs for the fun of it. The "Lydith" folder on the computer must contain more kept images than that of any other lens, I suspect. You're right about the clangers, Tony, though as JDM rightly pointed out the glass was often good but the cheap build rather spoiled things. Even a Domiplan can perform quite nicely, in working trim. I'm pleased you noticed the obligatory peeling paint...Thanks, John, a book would be a nice project, though there's currently some persuasion to do a calender, but I tend to be my own severest critic, in such matters. Interesting that you and Fred picked the Lydith's possible ancestory of both Olympus and Nikon lenses.
    Lucky man, Jeff, the Noflexar is one really interesting lens, and getting hard to come by at any price, as are many other classic lenses, as Chuck observed. You could well be right about the movie influence, SP, and I know how much you admire the Oreston. The "Tibouchina" image perhaps illustrates the ability of these Meyer lenses to produce an almost-3D effect. You're right, Randy, big is definitely better! And thanks, Gene and David, for your comments.
  29. Great pictures Rick. The lens is so very sharp, it competes well with today's lenses despite its 50 year age! The veedub image is very nice.
  30. This lens performance is pretty similar to those of the same era. Nothing spectacular there but people are prone to find qualities where there is none. Why Meyer lenses have cult followers when other manufacturers did much better is beyond my understanding...
  31. You're right about it holding up well against modern lenses, Shash,which is why I use it. Thanks for the response, Nicolas; "...beyond my understanding..." is noted.
  32. What a beautiful blue on that tibowhatever. This is likely the best photo in this outstanding series.

  33. Immensely enjoyable and skilfully done review of the Lydith as typical for your photo essays Rick. I loved the photo inside the old barn looking through the window. I won an Exakta a couple of weeks ago, so maybe a Lydith for it will come my way when it's ready for a film. Thanks for taking the time to put this together and I hope you are all safe and well after the most recent quakes.
  34. Rick
    I don't know what you are on, but you ought to bottle it and sell it.
    I had a Lydith in M42 mount which I used on my first SLR, a Petriflex V6. This would be around 1968, and was the widest lens I could afford as a student. I reckon it sold for around £30 ( £1 per mm?) in the UK, and everything else was twice the price. I never got impressive results from it and blamed the lens, so I was secretly pleased when it got stolen in a burglary. I used the insurance money to buy a Tamron 28mm
    I'm going to have to dig back in my neg file and see if I can improve on my prints from this lens given what you can do with it.
    Mike Pearson
  35. Thanks, Brett and David, and no damage resulting from the recent quakes, just a heightened tension. Perhaps you had a poor copy of the Lydith, Mike; I've read that there was some variation in manufacturing quality, but not as much as with the Orestegon, which became the Pentacon 29/2.8 Glad you enjoyed the post.

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