If you are looking for a lens with that “vintage look” then your search is over. The Meritar E.Ludwig 50mm F2.9 creates a beautiful film-like image that takes the “digital bite” off of a lot of today’s digital sensors. It’s not a perfect lens by any means nor is it the sharpest but this small and funky lens gives you a ton of character. I use it with a MetaBones Speedbooster on my Blackmagic Pocket Camera (my weapon of choice with this lens) and the extra stop and focal boost takes this little guy to another place.
Where does this lens get so much character from you may ask? Well, it could possibly be the Cooke Triplet (3 elements in 3 groups) optical formula. The same formula that can be found in the Mayer Optic Trioplan 100mm F2.8 ($1500 lens). Enough talk, let’s get into the breakdown.
For a 50mm lens, it’s pretty slow. Shooting the Meritar E.Ludwig 50mm F2.9 wide open gives you a slight dreamy and soft look but stopping down to F4 sharpens things up nicely. The edge do soften a bit but not as much as you would think. I personally like the soften edges, it kinda goes with the whole “vintage look” ascetic of these older lenses.
Oh this glass has character. The flares are full of color and rainbow like. Colors are diffused, which is great for color grading in post. It’s Bokeh is beautiful and smooth.
The Meritar E.Ludwig 50mm F2.9 comes in Exacta and M42 mounts. Mine is m42 and I just purchased a basic M42 to Canon EF mount and it works great. It covers the BMPCC perfectly and does well on a Super 35 sensor, but a bit soft on the edges (again I like that about this lens).
It has a screw-on filter but it’s very small, 35mm. I believe you could still get a step up ring to put your own filters on the lens.
Minimum focusing distance is 0.7m and the focus ring rotates 270 degrees and has a de-clicked aperture.
- Small and Compact
- Extremely Affordable
- Add a MetaBones Speedbooster and the lens becomes magical
- Creates the vintage look
- Takes the “digital bite” off of today’s digital sensor
- Smooth focus ring
- Very slow for a 50mm lens
- Tough to use on professional video or film shoots (too small)
- Small Filter ring
This lens isn’t for everyone. It’s not going to be you main 50mm or even your second 50mm but for the right project, it’s great. For stills, it’s pretty amazing and considering the small price tag, I’d grab it if I were you. The Meritar E.Ludwig 50mm F2.9 is a great little lens to just to play with but a serious filmmaker could do some damage with this lens on the right sensor.
Alex Ferrari is the Founder of the popular filmmaking site IndieFilmHustle.com, Numb Robot Studios and the host of the #1 Filmmaking Podcast on iTunes The Indie Film Hustle Podcast. He's also a self-diagnosed lens addict and experimental cinematographer.