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Inexpensive Leica-R Lenses (<$1000)
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 14, 2012 10:47 pm    Post subject: Inexpensive Leica-R Lenses (<$1000) Reply with quote

Recently, I noticed many beautiful photos taken by Leica "R" lenses, that have the fabled "Leica" glow. I think a few such lenses would make a great complement to my Contax G glass, which can be almost clinically sharp and contrasty (which I love but under some circumstances a Leica R might be better).

In the same way that the Contax G glass is near the top of the list for "Zeissness", "3d" and "microcontrast", I am wondering which Leica R series lenses have the best character of "Leica Glow" or "Leica Colour"?

I would like to purchase 3 lenses to start with, around 35, 50 and 90.
I did quite a bit of research here and on FM, and these candidates were often mentioned (note, I am limiting budget to $1000):

Wide:
Elmarit-R 28 F2.8, 1st edition ($550), 2nd edition ($1500+): Can't afford the 2nd edition, maybe the 1st?
Summicron-R 35 F2 : 3cam edition ($500), E55($1000+): This one seems widely acclaimed. Not sure if 3cam version is ok?
Elmarit-R 35 F2.8: Don't hear much about this one?

Medium:
Summicron-R 50 F2 E55: ($400). Ok, this one seems like a no-brainer. I guess 3cam version is ok?
Summilux-R 50 F1.4 E55: ($800+). Don't know much about this one.
Macro-Elmarit-R 60 F2.8 3cam ($500): This one is widely acclaimed.

Tele:
Summicron-R 90 F2 E55 ($700): This one is widely acclaimed, but many prefer Elmarit
Elmarit-R 90 F2.8 E55 ($500): This one seems to have a small advantage in my mind, but not sure.
Macro Elmarit-R 100 F4 ($400): Very affordable and tempting, but don't hear much about it...

Keeping in mind that my goal is maximum "Leica Glow" and complement to Contax glass, my gut tells me to get the Cron 35 F2 (3cam), Cron 50 F2 (E55), and Elmarit 90 F2.8 (E55).

Any experiences or opinions would be much appreciated.


Thanks fo


Last edited by gobears on Wed Feb 15, 2012 9:42 am; edited 1 time in total


PostPosted: Tue Feb 14, 2012 11:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I doubt Leica glow is very specific to Leitz glass, 3D and microcontrast isn't to Zeiss, plenty of lenses have it.

Meyer Primagon 4.5/35:



PostPosted: Tue Feb 14, 2012 11:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi iangreenhalgh1,

Thanks for the feedback. That is a really nice shot. I was admiring some of your photos on other threads too.
You have quite an eclectic mix of lenses, and seems you got many of them at very affordable prices.

Once I get over my Contax-G and Leica infatuation, I may adventure out into other lens brands.
For right now, i am just looking at Leica-R glass.

Don't want to open a new can of worms about Zeiss vs. Leica vs. others!

Smile


PostPosted: Wed Feb 15, 2012 12:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh, please, don't let me open any cans! Thanks for the kind words, I'm sure you'll love the Leica glass, I know I would like to try em out, bit outside by budget range though. If they are in yours then that's great, just be kind enough to share some samples when you do try them.

BTW, have you posted anything from your G lenses? The Biogon is really tempting even though I'd have to live on bred and water for a while to afford one...


PostPosted: Wed Feb 15, 2012 12:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Open you mind and look other not just Leica there is many same good or even better lenses, frequently for much less than Leica offer.


PostPosted: Wed Feb 15, 2012 12:41 am    Post subject: Re: Inexpensive "Leica Glow" Lenses (<$1000) Reply with quote

gobears wrote:
...Wide:
Elmarit-R 28 F2.8, 1st edition ($550), 2nd edition ($1500+): Can't afford the 2nd edition, maybe the 1st?
Summicron-R 35 F2 : 3cam edition ($500), E55($1000+): This one seems widely acclaimed. Not sure if 3cam version is ok?
Elmarit-R 35 F2.8: Don't hear much about this one?

Medium:
Summicron-R 50 F2 E55: ($400). Ok, this one seems like a no-brainer. I guess 3cam version is ok?
Summilux-R 50 F1.4 E55: ($800+). Don't know much about this one.
Macro-Elmarit-R 60 F2.8 3cam ($500): This one is widely acclaimed.

Tele:
Summicron-R 90 F2 E55 ($700): This one is widely acclaimed, but many prefer Elmarit
Elmarit-R 90 F2.8 E55 ($500): This one seems to have a small advantage in my mind, but not sure.
Macro Elmarit-R 100 F4 ($400): Very affordable and tempting, but don't hear much about it...

...


Be careful about which versions of R glass you buy. There are significant and some times major differences in performance and you need to be aware of these otherwise you could be wasting your money. The 3 cam vs ROM thing is irrelevant in many ways although it can give you a time line or age of the lens (although non ROM lenses can have the ROM contacts fitted so it's not proof of the age of the lens).

For the record, the R28/2.8 E55 has no 'glow' whatsoever. It's clinically sharp wide open and then it only gets sharper. If you want 'glow', or aberrations that give the image character, then buy some thing else. I'm starting to like the Olympus 28/2.0 for that.

gobears wrote:
Recently, I noticed many beautiful photos taken by Leica "R" lenses, that have the fabled "Leica" glow. ...Keeping in mind that my goal is maximum "Leica Glow" and complement to Contax glass, my gut tells me to get the Cron 35 F2 (3cam), Cron 50 F2 (E55), and Elmarit 90 F2.8 (E55).
...


What do you mean by "Leica glow", what does it actually mean to you?

I tend to think of it as the SA you see from some of the fast lenses but SA is eliminated when stopped down, so although lenses like the R80 and 35 Lux do have a 'glow' wide open they are also exceedingly sharp lenses, especially stopped down a little.

JJ


PostPosted: Wed Feb 15, 2012 12:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

iangreenhalgh1,

Have not posted any samples yet.
Honestly, I need to get up the nerve to do it.
I don't think my work will be up to the standards of this forum, at least not for a while.

Attila,
I can appreciate that there many other options out there, and will open my mind down the road. Honestly, its a little overwelming to have so many choices. I chose Leica-R glass, because I have seen alot of samples that I like. So I specifically am focused on Leica-R glass in this thread, especially the lenses I listed.

Its possible that this forum is not the right place to get Leica feedback, maybe because most folks are looking for lesser known alternatives. I don't know. I am just trying to get some help sorting out what would be best from the choices I posted.


PostPosted: Wed Feb 15, 2012 12:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you seek glow then the Biotar 2/58 might be interesting to you as it has a fair bit of SA (hence the swirly bokeh) and does have glow wide open. Be careful with old Biotars, they had soft coatings so if not cleaned correctly over the years the coatings can be destroyed. Perhaps one of the later variants of the Helios-44 copy of the Biotar would be a good bet, they have the same swirly bokeh and wide open glow but have modern multicoatings and are very sharp indeed. I think you can still buy new Helios 44M-7 lenses, certainly plenty of mint ones around and they are 50 bucks at most.

I find a lot of older lenses exhibit glow wide open, it's a look I like on closeups.


PostPosted: Wed Feb 15, 2012 12:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

gobears wrote:
iangreenhalgh1,

Have not posted any samples yet.
Honestly, I need to get up the nerve to do it.
I don't think my work will be up to the standards of this forum, at least not for a while.

Attila,
I can appreciate that there many other options out there, and will open my mind down the road. Honestly, its a little overwelming to have so many choices. I chose Leica-R glass, because I have seen alot of samples that I like. So I specifically am focused on Leica-R glass in this thread, especially the lenses I listed.

Its possible that this forum is not the right place to get Leica feedback, maybe because most folks are looking for lesser known alternatives. I don't know. I am just trying to get some help sorting out what would be best from the choices I posted.


Don't worry about posting your samples, it's a good way to hone one's skills as you get feedback to guide you.

There are plenty of Leica users here so you should be able to garner a few opinions from people who have shot R glass. You'll also get suggestions for alternatives too, but that's just because we are the most open-minded lens lovers around and between us we've probably tried just about everything available and when you have certain characteristics like glow that you are looking for, we might remember and suggest lens we tried that had that character. It's all good, don't get discouraged!


PostPosted: Wed Feb 15, 2012 1:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

jjphoto,

You make a great point. Once I narrow down the choices, I will be very careful about the version.

About the "Leica Glow" thing.
I have heard that term used in discussion boards about photos that I find appealing.

What does it mean to me?
I have seen photos on this site from Orio that have that quality.
I also find many photos in FM->Alt Glass in the Leica-R photo threads that I like alot.

One quote I read described Leica glow this way:

Quote:
I think one contributor to the "Leica glow" is not just SA adding a soft layer over the plane of best focus, but also the way the SA contributes to the nearly-in-focus regions of the images. From what I have seen, as the Mandler designs move slightly away from the focal plane, the point-spread response consists of a quickly expanding outer "halo" of light around a central brighter point. The result is that fine detail persists well into the less focused regions of the image, at increasingly reduced contrast (extra "glow" from the expanding outer halo of the defocus spot). Many lenses that transition to defocus with a more uniform spot shape will blur out the fine details faster outside the depth of focus, rather than having the transition region of detail+glow.


NOTE: SA = Spherical aberration


PostPosted: Wed Feb 15, 2012 1:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm still not 100% sure about the meaning of "Leica glow"

Have a look on the Summilux 35mm pre-asph (Leica M) which has a lot typical Leica-Look to my eyes.
Is that what you want? Or is the effect not strong enough?

The cheap and little Nokton 35/1.4 classic (also Leica M) is similar to the Summilux bye the way... but a lot softer wide open and much more flare resistant. Maybe not the class you want to have.

You should also have a look for older and fast Voigtlnder rangefinder lenses from the pre-Cosina-time when you are looking through the bay... I know there are one or two strong "glowers" Wink


PostPosted: Wed Feb 15, 2012 3:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

gobears wrote:
Have not posted any samples yet.
Honestly, I need to get up the nerve to do it.
I don't think my work will be up to the standards of this forum, at least not for a while.


Laughing if a plug like me can post images and not be laughed off the forum you'll be fine.


PostPosted: Wed Feb 15, 2012 3:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Maybe we can just call it the "leica look" as say.
I will look around the site and see if I can dig
Up some examples. Definitely seen it in some of Orio's work.


PostPosted: Wed Feb 15, 2012 6:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ok, I looked around and found a thread about the Leica 90mm Summicron-r:

http://forum.mflenses.com/leica-summicron-r-2-90mm-one-year-after-on-5d-ff-t45784.html

I really like the look and feel of the photographs.

The colors are still very rich, vibrant and sharp, but definitely different to Zeiss.

So I a wondering which of the lenses in my original post could deliver the that type of look the best.

Maybe I should have asked the question in a simpler way, like which 3 lenses are the favorites among those listed.


PostPosted: Wed Feb 15, 2012 7:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

http://forum.mflenses.com/is-this-the-leica-glow-t46476.html


PostPosted: Wed Feb 15, 2012 8:09 am    Post subject: Re: Inexpensive "Leica Glow" Lenses (<$1000) Reply with quote

gobears wrote:

Medium:
Summicron-R 50 F2 E55: ($400). Ok, this one seems like a no-brainer. I guess 3cam version is ok?
Summilux-R 50 F1.4 E55: ($800+). Don't know much about this one.
Macro-Elmarit-R 60 F2.8 3cam ($500): This one is widely acclaimed.


Any experiences or opinions would be much appreciated.




I have/had this three lenses. After some time using Summicron and Summilux alternately, I decided, that I prefer the Summilux results and sold the Summicron. Others may have contrary likings.
Still have the Makro-Elmarit but can't say, I really love it. Maybe I should give it another chance. It is sharp, but if you want that special Leica glow, look or whatever, this might probably not be your choice.

maybe not much of a help, but, hey, we are here to confuse you.....
Laughing Laughing Laughing Laughing Laughing Laughing

Klaus


PostPosted: Wed Feb 15, 2012 9:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

visualopsins,
Yes, that picture also has the look that I admire in leica. Now just gotta figure out which lenses.

Exaklaus,
What did you like better about the lux over the cron?
I have also heard the macro does not have as much typical leica look compared to others.


PostPosted: Wed Feb 15, 2012 10:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm also not realy sure about what you mean with "leica glow" but anyway, I have 3 leica lenses telyt 8/500, apo-macro 2.8/100mm and cron 2/90 E55 and they are all fantastic lenses, sharp and beautiful skin rendering (also the miror lens!), but is it "leica glow"?...well, I have no idea Rolling Eyes .....I think these leica R lenses gives their best on FF cam, I'm not sure it's the best choice for crop cam and especially for the nex serie......
here some samples with the cron 2/90, it has a quite bad reputation or at least not so good reputation, I don't know why and I don't care, I'm quite happy with my lens Very Happy
http://forum.mflenses.com/portrait-leica-r-2-90mm-and2-more-shots-t32941,highlight,%2B90mm.html

and with the macro 2.8/100:
http://forum.mflenses.com/spring-colors-leica-apo-macro-2-8-100mm-nikon-mount-t38693,highlight,%2Bleica.html

Good luck with your search Very Happy


PostPosted: Wed Feb 15, 2012 10:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

gobears wrote:

Exaklaus,
What did you like better about the lux over the cron?
I have also heard the macro does not have as much typical leica look compared to others.


Beside that extra stop of the Summilux and the open diaphragm look, I noticed that , closed down to f2-f4, my Summilux seems to show more details.

Klaus


PostPosted: Wed Feb 15, 2012 12:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't know what the "leica glow" means, none of my Leica lenses suffer from any glow, even wide-open. All give rich saturated colors, with low CA and high contrast.
I won't suggest old wide-angle lenses from Leica, I think that C/Y Distagons are better value and IQ.
The first version of Summicron 2/50 is very good lens from f2.8 and you can get it ~200. Macro-Elmarit 60 is fantastic lens.
90mm R lenses are all great.
All Leica APO lenses are the best Wink

If you want try Leica character really cheap, try to get Hektor 2.5/85 projection lens.


PostPosted: Wed Feb 15, 2012 9:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

By "Leica Glow" I mean "class Leica character".
Accordingly, its all the things you listed there.

Thanks for the feedback here.

I've decided to buy the 50mm F2 Summicron-R as a good starting place.
Will likely get the 90mm F2.8 Elmarit as well, as I don't really need F2 at that FL and could save some money and weight.

Will hold off on the other focal lengths for now.

Actually, in my research, I realized there are some highly regarded Leica super telephoto lenses (>= 180mm), but I will have to consider Contax CY as well in those focal lengths, and the CY 100-300 is highest on my list for next lens.


PostPosted: Thu Feb 16, 2012 7:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have the Summicron-R 50mm f/2, one of the last production years. I have it leitaxed to Nikon.
It trully is a good lens. I like how it renders the lights to a star shape for urban night photography. It has a special character I didn't find yet in other 50mm.
However, you won't hear me say that it is the best lens of the world Smile I do, however, have a special bond with that lens, but that has probably more to do with the fact that I shot some really great photographs already on the first day of use...
The end line is that you should decide why a lens is good. Subjectivity should play an important role here. Forget sharpness and chartness, use the lens that makes you feel good and stimulates your creativity. I have a 20 collapsible Industar-22 for use on the NEX5. It is one of the "best" lenses I have!
Don't fall in the Leica-trap... For one leica optic, you can buy 50 Industars and buy a travel ticket to go and test to find the good copies Wink


PostPosted: Thu Feb 16, 2012 10:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

My cheap Summilux-R 80/1.4 has that glow ... Smile



It's the first version. The glow at wide open sometimes makes me amazed (the OOF glow rendering near the focus area) and sometimes makes me frustrated (the unsharpness at focus area due to the glow! Smile )

At first I thought my lens has defects (I got it in beat up condition). So I sent some samples to Thorsten Overgaard via email asking about his opinion and he confirmed that it was the Leica glow and nothing wrong with my lens.

I am not 100% sure, but I think the latest version of the Lux R 80 has less glow, based on some images I saw on the internet.


PostPosted: Thu Feb 16, 2012 11:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

nixland wrote:
...

I am not 100% sure, but I think the latest version of the Lux R 80 has less glow, based on some images I saw on the internet.


There is no 'latest version'. There was only ever one optical version. Yes, coatings may have changed, maybe internally too as materials become unavailable and substitutes must be made, we'll never know for certain as a lot can happen in a 20 plus year production run. But there was never more than one optical version, regardless of coatings, number of cams or ROM contacts. There is no question about that.

The R 80 seems to have lower resolution at close range than it does at distance, which is kind of unfortunate for a lens commonly used as a 'portrait' lens. If you are testing it at close range, such as in that flower pic, then that might account for some of the softness you are seeing. If you test it at distance you should find the lens actually has excellent resolution of very fine details even wide open but the SA (glow) knocks out the contrast and reduces the 'sharpness'.

JJ


PostPosted: Thu Feb 16, 2012 5:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote


telyt 400/6.8

USD 360 with box, stock and barrel from keh, no less





glow? I don't know, but it's a doublet with an utterly unique rendering.