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Leica 30-90mm Vario-Elmar-S Review

Leica Vario-Elmar-S 30-90mm Leica S

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#1 Vieri

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Posted 19 March 2017 - 17:12

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Today I published an article dedicated to the Leica 30-90mm Vario-Elmar-S in the field on the Leica S (007), including my consideration about using it on the Leica SL. Here it is:

 

https://vieribottazz...ser-report.html

 

Hope you'll enjoy the read and images! Best,

 

Vieri 


Edited by Vieri, 19 March 2017 - 17:12.

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#2 Jeff S

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Posted 19 March 2017 - 21:44

There is apparently some sample variation regarding edge performance.....in this thread, Manolo's turned out to be out of spec and Leica addressed it to some extent...  http://www.l-camera-...st-impressions/

 

Regarding your comparison to the SL 24-90, you omitted the image stabilization of the SL zoom, which is especially important for handheld use.  Handheld, the faster SL zoom, coupled with both IS and AF, should be easier to obtain sharp results in less than ideal light... aided by its better edge performance and weather sealing.  A sharp smaller file beats a fuzzy larger file.

 

 

I demo-ed the S006 and 30-90 for a week last Summer, but was disappointed with handheld results in all but good daylight.  This was exacerbated by the optional spit image screen in the S006, which tended to half black out when using the longer, slower end of the zoom.  For tripod work, at faster speeds, this of course would not be an issue.  I'm sure that the zoom coupled with the newer, faster S007 would have fared much better for handheld use.

 

Jeff


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#3 Vieri

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Posted 19 March 2017 - 22:03

There is apparently some sample variation regarding edge performance.....in this thread, Manolo's turned out to be out of spec and Leica addressed it to some extent...  http://www.l-camera-...st-impressions/

 

Regarding your comparison to the SL 24-90, you omitted the image stabilization of the SL zoom, which is especially important for handheld use.  Handheld, the faster SL zoom, coupled with both IS and AF, should be easier to obtain sharp results in less than ideal light... aided by its better edge performance and weather sealing.  A sharp smaller file beats a fuzzy larger file.

 

 

I demo-ed the S006 and 30-90 for a week last Summer, but was disappointed with handheld results in all but good daylight.  This was exacerbated by the optional spit image screen in the S006, which tended to half black out when using the longer, slower end of the zoom.  For tripod work, at faster speeds, this of course would not be an issue.  I'm sure that the zoom coupled with the newer, faster S007 would have fared much better for handheld use.

 

Jeff

 

 

Jeff,

 

1. There is sample variation indeed; I mentioned that I found a good used copy, before that I tried a not-so-good one which was from a lens test pool and was decentered; but in the name of fairness I didn't mention it in the article because the lens obviously had a rough life (looked pretty knocked);

 

2. About the SL, I said "If you are a Leica SL owner and you don’t own or plan on owning a Leica S, I would definitely recommend getting the SL’s native 24-90mm Vario-Elmarit-SL over the 30-90mm Vario-Elmar-S. The 24-90mm Vario-Elmarit-SL has amazing image quality, it’s wider, faster, lighter, easier to filter and its AF is much faster; at half the price of the 30-90mm Vario-Elmar-S it’s a no brainer. However, if you are a Leica S owner and you either already own or are thinking about getting a Leica SL for backup or to complement your S system, the 30-90mm Vario-Elmar-S is a lens you might want to consider: not only it works perfectly on the Leica SL, but here the corner softness at longer focal lengths is all but absent.".

 

I never compared the 24-90 on the SL with the 30-90 on the S; I compared both lenses on the SL only, and strongly recommended getting the 24-90mm, so I don't see what your point exactly is: we seem to agree on this. However, perhaps I didn't explain myself very well, or you didn't read that part of the article with enough attention: since both lenses are used on the SL as you can see from the paragraph above, I don't see where you get your "A sharp smaller file beats a fuzzy larger file", since both files are actually from the same camera, the SL, and therefore are of the same size :) More, the Vario-Elmar IS weather sealed as the 24-90mm, and it has great corner-to-corner sharpness on the SL, where it uses only the central portion of the image circle.

 

Btw, I'll add image stabilisation in the 24-90mm advantage list, thanks for that - obviously I forgot to include it.

 

3. About your last sentence, I used it on the S 007 only, so I cannot comment on the lens' performance on the S 006, and even less so if you add a split screen instead of the original screen. Of course, AF in low light with a f/5.6 lens is going to be poorer than with a f/2.5 lens, and of course handholding a f/5.6 lens on medium format in low light is going to be tough - no surprise there. I also don't understand your "For tripod work, at faster speeds, this of course would not be an issue.": if you are on a tripod, you'd use SLOWER speeds, not faster speeds for which you don't need a tripod at all.

 

Best,

 

Vieri


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#4 Jeff S

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Posted 19 March 2017 - 22:23

Of course I meant slower shutter speeds (allowing for smaller apertures).

 

The rest are my own observations, not a direct commentary on your comparisons, other than to add IS to the equation.  I just happen to be comparing the S and SL for my own use, including potential zoom applications.  In that regard, IS is a significant factor for me.

 

Likewise, the comments about the 006 have nothing to do with your comparison; they reflect my own experience with the 30-90 for anyone interested. 

 

I understood your article just fine.....thanks for the review.

 

Jeff


Edited by Jeff S, 19 March 2017 - 22:24.


#5 Vieri

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Posted 20 March 2017 - 08:17

Of course I meant slower shutter speeds (allowing for smaller apertures).

 

The rest are my own observations, not a direct commentary on your comparisons, other than to add IS to the equation.  I just happen to be comparing the S and SL for my own use, including potential zoom applications.  In that regard, IS is a significant factor for me.

 

Likewise, the comments about the 006 have nothing to do with your comparison; they reflect my own experience with the 30-90 for anyone interested. 

 

I understood your article just fine.....thanks for the review.

 

Jeff

 

 

Ah ok then. Being that you wrote what you wrote as an answer to my post and since you didn't mention that what you wrote were just your own observations, I thought that you were... answering to my post :) All clear now.

 

Best,

 

Vieri


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#6 ynp

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Posted 20 March 2017 - 15:08

Thanks for your review. Very nice photos too.

I don't plan to buy the 24-90 for my SL for the current prices and I am happy with my M lenses on the SL. I have the S30-90 and use it on my SL sometimes. As an amateur and an occasional user of my Leicas, I tend to use what I have.

I am surprised that the Cheaper Than Ever Non-CS S lenses do not attract more attention of the SL crowd.

#7 Jeff S

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Posted 20 March 2017 - 15:45

I am surprised that the Cheaper Than Ever Non-CS S lenses do not attract more attention of the SL crowd.


Maybe not too surprising given AF and service concerns, lack of IS, and still relatively pricey by most all standards except compared to their initial prices. And I think many SL users are making due with R and M lenses and the SL zooms until more native lenses reach market.

Jeff

#8 albertknappmd

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Posted 20 March 2017 - 17:17

excellent review....

as to Zoom creep... I had Leica tighten the lens ring in question and .... no more zoom creep..

I still use it at 90mm but crop out the  corners if they are really soft.

 

Albert  :D  :D  :D



#9 xiaubauu2009

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Posted 21 March 2017 - 05:17

My experience with the 30-90 is a mix bag. It's very versatile as we all know, but I think my copy has some issue as the image quality at 90 is not what I would say Leica quality. Complexity of the 3x zoom in a small package has its limitation I guess.

 

But as a 1 lens travel kit, this is unbeatable.


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#10 albertknappmd

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Posted 21 March 2017 - 23:15

My experience with the 30-90 is a mix bag. It's very versatile as we all know, but I think my copy has some issue as the image quality at 90 is not what I would say Leica quality. Complexity of the 3x zoom in a small package has its limitation I guess.

 

But as a 1 lens travel kit, this is unbeatable.

You are quite correct on all counts... The zoom is a funny creature and I have seen significant quality divergences.. However, if you get the right one you are golden... I returned the first two I received immediately until I got the third iteration which has been superb.. The old adage, three is a charm, is quite apposite...

 

Albert   :)  :)  :)



#11 FlashGordonPhotography

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Posted 22 March 2017 - 04:29

I have two copies of the 30-90 (long story). Neither is perfect. The first one I got is terrible. Corners are mush at any aperture. 2nd it dramatically better but not great at any aperture. I have a 15-20 year old Pentax 45-85 and it positively stomps on the A$13K Leica at f8 and above. The corners are embarrassing on the Leica. Both copies.

 

However I have seen images from the 30-90 @90mm that were great at f8. Sample variation seems rife.

 

I have talked to Leica Australia about it and they're keen to assist but I haven't had time to pursue it further, yet.

 

If the 30-90 was stellar it would go a long way to making the S a great landscape camera (with LENR and long exposure fixes as well). Such a shame.

 

Gordon



#12 erlingmm

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Posted 22 March 2017 - 17:35

Just did an informal test of my S 30-90 Zoom, handheld at my local brick walls

 

DNGs uploaded to: 

https://www.dropbox....xhgBpswlha?dl=0

 

2 sequences of 5 shots, taken at max aperture at 30, 45, 60, 75 and 90 mm

 

Auto Tone for synchronised exposure 

 

I think this is quite good, even at 90mm despite some softness in the corners (not sharpened), a low res example at 90 mm here:

 

Attached File  L3002237.jpg   430.14KB   7 downloads


Edited by erlingmm, 22 March 2017 - 17:46.

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#13 Vieri

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Posted 23 March 2017 - 11:04

The 30-90mm is a very versatile lens, and if you get a good copy is perfectly good for all online publishing and small prints work. However, I have yet to find a copy that was great at the longer focal lengths; my second one was wonderful between 30-50mm, very good up to 60-70mm and had soft corners after that, again nothing problematic except for critical use.

 

About the S lenses, they can be had for a (very relative) song if used; and if you are interested in the S system I really think this is a very good time to stock them. The AF problem seem to have found a permanent fix, and if the rumours are correct we will see a new body relatively soon: if this happens, you can be sure that you'll not be able to find bargains on S lenses any more.

 

I have two copies of the 30-90 (long story). Neither is perfect. The first one I got is terrible. Corners are mush at any aperture. 2nd it dramatically better but not great at any aperture. I have a 15-20 year old Pentax 45-85 and it positively stomps on the A$13K Leica at f8 and above. The corners are embarrassing on the Leica. Both copies.

 

However I have seen images from the 30-90 @90mm that were great at f8. Sample variation seems rife.

 

I have talked to Leica Australia about it and they're keen to assist but I haven't had time to pursue it further, yet.

 

If the 30-90 was stellar it would go a long way to making the S a great landscape camera (with LENR and long exposure fixes as well). Such a shame.

 

Gordon

 

 

Gordon, agree 100% with you: a stellar 30-90mm and serious long exposures would make for THE best landscape system around, if you ask me. Let's hope Leica is listening :)

 

Best,

 

Vieri


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#14 leicapages

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Posted Yesterday, 11:45

 About the S lenses, they can be had for a (very relative) song if used; and if you are interested in the S system I really think this is a very good time to stock them. The AF problem seem to have found a permanent fix, and if the rumours are correct we will see a new body relatively soon: if this happens, you can be sure that you'll not be able to find bargains on S lenses any more.
Vieri



Now you make me curious. What rumors? Anything of substance?

#15 erlingmm

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Posted Yesterday, 22:43

The S007 is 1,5 years old (delivered), I think it is too early to expect a new model. Neither have I heard any rumours, except wishful thinking that really goes in all directions.


Edited by erlingmm, Yesterday, 22:45.

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