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knopfler1976

Focusing error of Summicron 75mm on Leica M9??

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Dear all,

 

I've been using a 2nd-hand M9 for about 3 months now with Summicron 35mm, also brand new when purchased. I didn't find much problem in focusing with my Cron-35mm wide-open, regardless of the focusing distance. (Though I have to say focusing at far objects generally gives soft results even when stopped down. Is this the nature of the lens?)

 

I recently got a brand new Summicron 75mm from BHPhoto (with some luck) and have been playing with it for 2 days. Before I started decribing my issue with it, let me say I'm not the kind of focus-freak, i.e. people who wants the focus to be extremely accurate. I understand the nature of rangefinder and for street shooting I mostly use zone focus or pre-focus. I could live with inaccurate focusing as long as the composition is good for me.

 

But with 75mm wide-open (and its shallow DoF), I'm really noticing the error. In mid-range focusing distance (1.2m~3m) the focusing seems to be pretty accurate. But at very short distances (0.7m~1m) and anything beyond 5m, it seems to be off most of the time.

 

I didn't do rigorous test using proper objects (like rulers or something). I just took a lot of shots with real-life subjects. Roughly speaking, when focusing close, say 0.7m, the error seems to be about 1~2cm. When focusing long, say 10m, it's much worse. I could really tell that the focus is not right.

 

Given that rangefinder depends on users' bare eyes, I guess my eyesight has to be factored in. I wear glasses to correct my eyesights (about 600 degrees left and 450 right).

 

I'm intersted in the experience of the other owners of Cron-75mm. Is this generally the case with this lens, that focusing at short distances and long distances tends to be off? Or is it neccessary that I send the camera and the lens to Leica for calibration?

 

Again, I'm not after ultra-accurate focusing here. Just trying to understand as a newbie what really happens. If this is the way it is, I'll simply accept the fact and adjust my shooting style accordingly.

 

Thank you for reading this.

 

Jerry

knopfler dans la rue 諾弗勒在街頭

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It is not unusual for the focus to be of on some lenses. It could be the rangefinder in the camera with needs adjustment or it could be the lens or both. Just because it is new it is not certain that it will focus perfect on the camera.

 

To get satisfying results I would recommend sending al the gear to Leica for adjustment. It is a pain to be without gear for the time it takes, but results will be perfect and you won't have to think about it all the time.

 

I believe Leica NJ can help you best.d

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FWIW, my brand new Summicron 35 misfocused on my M9 that was bought a week earlier. Since that M9 focused all my legacy lenses perfectly, the lens went back to Solms. It actually took two trips, but now it´s spot on.

 

Two months after the 35, I bought a used but almost mint Summicron 75, and it focused perfectly from day one.

 

These two lenses are now my standard setup, and I´ve stopped worrying about gear-induced misfocus (wish that were the case for self-induced errors as well...).

 

So, I think it´s just a matter of bad luck if there´s a focus error in new or like-new gear. It certainly does happen, but more often it doesn´t.....

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I had two Summicron 75mm lenses (brand new) and both focused unaccurately on M9, so much that an adjustmend was needed. Both lenses (about 6 months apart) were sent to Solms and upon return they were perfect and this was of course under guarantee.

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I had two Summicron 75mm lenses (brand new) and both focused unaccurately on M9, so much that an adjustmend was needed. Both lenses (about 6 months apart) were sent to Solms and upon return they were perfect and this was of course under guarantee.

 

Did you send only lens or the camera too ?

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Let's not be so quick to rule out user error. The M9 viewfinder is (I think) 0.58 magnification, and the OP is trying to do close focus with a 75mm lens wide open--not easy to nail focus with that combination! I suggest trying a viewfinder magnifier (3rd party magnifiers are not terribly expensive) before sending your gear off for tinkering.

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"The M9 viewfinder is (I think) 0.58 magnification..."

 

.68x, actually - but who's counting?

 

I've had one 75 'cron that had focus cross-over - front-focus in the close range, OK from ~1m to 5m, back-focus in the long range (to the point where, set to infinity on the scale, nothing was quite in focus, including mountains 30 miles away - it was focused "beyond infinity.")

 

Definitely not the camera - which focused correctly with other lenses from 21 to 135mm (AND a 75 f/1.4). And that particular 75 f/2 was equally "off" on a film body, two M8s, and an M9.

 

This is the longest M lens with floating elements, and my suspicion is that Leica perhaps went "a bridge too far" in trying to control TWO focusing helicals simultaneously in a lens with such limited DoF - especially when trying to focus by proxy with a rangefinder.

 

Their normal production precision just doesn't seem to be quite up to the task, so a higher percentage of these lenses seem to need "personal attention" after sale. They've been mentioned by name as having focus problems rather often on this forum.

 

It is an excellent lens with very good close-up performance (due to the FLE) - IF the internal adjustment is spot-on.

Edited by adan

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Did you send only lens or the camera too ?

 

Only lens. The camera had already been calibrated with other lenses and was perfect.

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In my view it is a mistake to conclude that the lens (or camera) is in error without careful testing. Of course it is possible.

There is very little margin for error at the closest ranges if the lens is used wide open or nearly so. I think DoF is quoted at about 20mm at 1m. I can tell you that in close I can easily identify the ends of eyelashes on the focused eye being softer than the pupil, when I do my part.

 

My APO 75 was actually checked and calibrated by Solms two years ago (at the time of my M8 upgrade). I never saw any error before that. It is certainly spot on when used on my M9 now as well.

It is simply my favourite lens and performs perfectly accurately for me everytime I do my part.

Ruth with fierce eyes photo - Geoff Hopkinson photos at pbase.com

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I got my mint Apo 75 cron 4 days ago.

To focus wide open and spot on with my M9 I have to use a tripod.

Handheld.. no chance to get it properly. Practice more shall help I hear.

There is really very little margin.

 

This review may help, click sample shots for DOF and 100%:

 

http://www.lenstip.com/250.11-Lens_review-Leica_Apo-Summicron-M_75_mm_f_2.0__Asph_Summary.html

Edited by trylab

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Thank you all for the detailed replies!! I really appreciate it.

 

My experience is closer adan where from 1-5m it seems okay, but outside of that range, the focus seems to be off all the time. And I also have the

 

I currently do not intend to add a magnifier since I intend to do 35+75 combo on the street like elgenper. It'd be too cumbersome to have to take on and off the magnifier all the time. I just hope that 75 focuses reasonably enough.

 

In any case, I'll keep shooting for another couple of days. I suppose if the lens does need calibration, it'd take too many weeks before it's done that it'd miss my Paris trip in October. I think I'll just stick with it as is for my Paris trip and send it to Leica NJ as suggested by matlep.

 

Thank you all for the infos!!

 

Jerry

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My 75/2 is hopelessly adrift ... not in focus when set at infinity and front focussing by miles at close distances.

 

Quite how it managed to escape the factory calibrated like this beats me....

 

When I have the inclination I will send it for adjustment.... for now I use my 90/4 which is a great little lens with macro thrown in as a bonus.....

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I had focusing issues with my M9 and 75mm APO. I decided to send all my Leica equipment (M8, M9, and eight lenses) to DAG in Madison, WI to have everything checked out. The only culprits were my M9 and the 75mm--they were both off. DAG adjusted them and now I'm spot on. My 75mm was brand new, as well--from B & H.

 

Ken

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hi Ken, thanks for sharing. I've contacted Leica AG and they said the technicians are overloaded now. They advised me to wait until I come back from my Paris trip in October to send the gears in, expecting certain turn-around time about it.

 

I had focusing issues with my M9 and 75mm APO. I decided to send all my Leica equipment (M8, M9, and eight lenses) to DAG in Madison, WI to have everything checked out. The only culprits were my M9 and the 75mm--they were both off. DAG adjusted them and now I'm spot on. My 75mm was brand new, as well--from B & H.

 

Ken

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I am in a similar situation with a 75 Summicron and M9. I'm having the same issue, other lens focus fine, but the 75 just has a problem. When focussing on something near it's fine but once you try to focus at a distance there are issues.

 

I set the M9 on a sturdy tripod, focussed the lens to infinity and f16 and took a shot into the distance, nothing was in focus. I then removed the 75 and put another lens on with the same settings and it is fine.

 

I had the lens serviced, they said they adjusted back focus, it came back slightly better but still nothing would focus at infinity or at a distance.

 

People who are mentioning the viewfinder or depth of field or even user error as the problem, I can't understand how when set at infinity (thus removing the rangefinder or viewfinder and couplings from the equation) and using a tripod and a small aperture (for maximum depth of field -- which should in theory in my examples from about 10 metres to infinity), how these could cause such an issue.

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I currently do not intend to add a magnifier since I intend to do 35+75 combo on the street like elgenper. It'd be too cumbersome to have to take on and off the magnifier all the time. I just hope that 75 focuses reasonably enough.

Jerry
Why would you have to remove a magnifier?

I use a 1.25X magnifier and never take it off.

Works fine with a 35 & 75mm combo.

I even leave it on when I use the MATE.

I just shift my eye a bit. The 1.4X Magnifier

should also work with your 35.

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My experience matches Geoff's. I find focussing this lens problematic; it is brutal with miss focus. I read someone recently saying that it is harder to nail this lens wide open than the Noct - I'd believe that.

 

If you don't trust the lens, test it.

 

When I got mine, I was so lacking in confidence, I set up my M9 on a tripod, 45 degrees to a corrugated iron wall, and stuck some gaffer tape to it, at 700 mm, then at 1 metre intervals, and then focussed at each distance and each f stop.

 

It was soft at 700 wide open, but tack sharp after that. I have repeated this process with all my lenses, and the doubtful ones were returned to Solms - pretty confident my out of focus shots are user error (along with crap composition and exposure from time to time, but that's another story).

 

Cheers

John

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I received my new 75 Summicron ASPH early last year and it had focus problems making it almost unusable. I took a deep breath, sent it to Solms under warranty, and it came back perfect.

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