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michaelbrenner

Longevity of Leica T Lenses vs M Lenses

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I am inclined to believe that Leica has invested quite a bit of capital into the Leica T product line (new body, new interface, new view finder, new flash, new AF lenses, etc.) and that barring some sort of catastrophe, this substantial capital investment signals that Leica has every intention of expanding the line as time progresses and are committed to its ongoing support.

 

However, I am curious as to Leica's commitment to the T-mount and also to the APS-C sensor size as (it seems to me) a change in either would make the T-lenses obsolete.

 

No doubt the prospective Leica T buyer, as a part of their purchasing decision, will carefully consider whether the T-mount lenses they purchase will be (like an M lens) a safe, long-term investment, even though the body itself may go through multiple life cycles as it is tweaked and improved.

 

M lenses, even through the transition to digital from film continue to be compatible with current Leica camera bodies (including the T even though the T is an AF camera while the M lenses are manual focus only), whereas T lenses (at this time) only work with the T.

 

The key risk factor for early adopters has always been untimely obsolescence.

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I think this is a pointless question to ask at this juncture. Come again in thirty years time…

 

For the present, you can mount an LTM lens on the T because it has been Leica’s design philosophy for nearly a century. What better indication can you wish for?

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I absolutely agree. I am planning to buy the T with the two available lenses, but my biggest fear ist that the line might be cancelled very soon or not be further maintained when it will not be financially successful.

 

Definitely M lenses are a better long term investment.

 

T lenses will hardy be able to be adapted to a different camera... on the other side, some clever chinese company will surely reverse engineer the T lens autofocus interface and develop an adapter

but that is surely no solution.

 

So yes, this is also my biggest fear and I have the possibility in mind.

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Well, Leica has only dropped one mount in 60 years, and that was for obvious reasons at a time when they were very close to going bust.

 

The T mount is a sensible mount with lots of scope for development in the future, but they've made it pretty clear that they see the future in APSc for the T. They might change their mind of course, but I really don't think so, and even if they did produce a full frame body I'm sure they would continue to produce APSc cameras with the same mount. (Just as Sony are)

 

Personally, as sensor quality improves, it seems to me that full frame will become less and less of a fetish (and when people see how big the telephoto lenses for the A7 turn out to be! There's not much point in saving 300gm on a camera body if you are forced to use 3kg lenses!

 

I reckon that as long as Leica are making money the T series is pretty safe, and as long as the T series is safe, then these early lenses will remain relevant.

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I am quite confident that the T mount is designed with full frame in mind. We may likely see a full frame T. The current family of T lenses made in Japan will probably be for a second tier for use on a crop sensor as not everyone will want a full fame.

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Well, Leica has only dropped one mount in 60 years, and that was for obvious reasons at a time when they were very close to going bust.

 

The T mount is a sensible mount with lots of scope for development in the future, but they've made it pretty clear that they see the future in APSc for the T. They might change their mind of course, but I really don't think so, and even if they did produce a full frame body I'm sure they would continue to produce APSc cameras with the same mount. (Just as Sony are)

 

Personally, as sensor quality improves, it seems to me that full frame will become less and less of a fetish (and when people see how big the telephoto lenses for the A7 turn out to be! There's not much point in saving 300gm on a camera body if you are forced to use 3kg lenses!

 

I reckon that as long as Leica are making money the T series is pretty safe, and as long as the T series is safe, then these early lenses will remain relevant.

Interestng point about teles, Jono. As I am considering the T as a backup for travel I am thinking more and more of it replacing the M for long R lenses. Not only is the EVF better, the crop factor will allow me to lessen the load by leaving the longest lenses at home. Hmm..I see an 80-200 in my future I think….

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Leica sees T lenses as a longer term investment than T bodies, naturally, but nobody really knows what the future will bring. Leica’s plans for the T system extend a couple of years into the future, but their roadmap is, by necessity, only tentative. For the forseeable time the T system is expected grow with new lenses augmenting the existing portfolio. At some point in the future an existing lens might be replaced by a new and improved version, but that is beyond the roadmap’s horizon.

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If we look at camera series, S, M, T, it seems that M is well positioned between compact T and industrial S.

 

So i think it is realistic to expect Leica to continue focus on T. I'm not sure about fullframe T though otherwise users have to add another new lenses like Nikon users did.

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Interestng point about teles, Jono. As I am considering the T as a backup for travel I am thinking more and more of it replacing the M for long R lenses. Not only is the EVF better, the crop factor will allow me to lessen the load by leaving the longest lenses at home. Hmm..I see an 80-200 in my future I think….

 

An excellent point - keeping the physical dimensions to APS-C while improving resolution and quality would allow for smaller lenses, especially the tele-zooms and larger apertures. I recall the early days of the X1 and using Lightroom to "digitally" zoom was very feasible because of the sensor's IQ even though the lens was fixed at 35mm. No doubt the M body and M lens line have pushed size to the smallest possible (given current limitations) for the FF sensor size.

 

As the T line progresses, I believe a key indicator of Leica's commitment to the line's ongoing success will resolve itself (no pun intended) in the form of an offering of classic, world-leading lenses now available for the M mount in a more compact package for the T mount -OR- given the opportunity for smaller zooms and high-aperture lenses, perhaps a more uniquely positioned category suitable for AF rather than RF so as to more clearly differentiate the T from the M rather than risk cannibalizing sales, making them complements rather than substitutes. Notably, the next two T lenses on the docket are both classic zooms (17-35 and 80-200 equivalent), not primes. Is there a wide-aperture 50 (equivalent) on the horizon I wonder, or wide-aperture primes/zooms?

 

The key draws I could see for purchasing T lenses that have M equivalents (especially if the buyer already has the M lens) would be portability (size), speed (aperture), and of course auto-focus capabilities (for applications more readily lending themselves to AF). These factors provide an exciting opportunity in photography (especially candid-style such as street photography) and, when taken together, assuming the line catches on, point to its longevity.

 

I will say, personally, I have discovered my own interest leans towards prime lenses, especially wide-aperture primes, which offer low-light and DOF opportunities, and having only a single prime so far in the line-up out of 4 lenses is a bit of a downer.

 

Many of the non-pro camera manufacturers offer similar-sized "kit" zooms in their lines and so I suppose it is the prudent way to go to stick one's "toe in" and see how sales progress before being too ambitious in lens production.

 

Nevertheless, Leica (in my minds eye at least) has attracted much more of the serious photographer (or at least avid enthusiast) rather than the casual shooter and so I would think, as a sign of commitment to the longevity of the T mount, they would need to offer lenses catering to that segment as well.

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I will say, personally, I have discovered my own interest leans towards prime lenses, especially wide-aperture primes, which offer low-light and DOF opportunities, and having only a single prime so far in the line-up out of 4 lenses is a bit of a downer

 

I'm sorry there isn't a good 50 as well, on the other hand the 35 FLE does work very well, and MF Is a snap!

 

On the other hand a good set of zooms is certainly in the spirit of the T,

Edited by jaapv
repair quote

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As far as I am aware, no-one in the public actually knows what the image circle of the T lenses is either at this point or whether they would in fact work on a 24x36 sensor (or what sensor developments will offer as well)???

But perhaps some MTF diagrams will emerge?

Then the future speculation can really get going.

 

I don't think that M users or potential buyers are necessarily the primary target demographic for the T system but that's understandably a forum focus.

I looked at the numbers as a backup possibility since I travel with my M and a couple of lenses. But to buy a T with a lens (and an M adapter?) and the EVF gets very close to the price of an M-E for example and a used M9 is typically quite a bit less.

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As far as I am aware, no-one in the public actually knows what the image circle of the T lenses is either at this point or whether they would in fact work on a 24x36 sensor (or what sensor developments will offer as well)???

People are complaining about Leica relying on software-based corrections of distortion and CA, both of which are strongest near the edges of the image circle, and still some entertain the idea that these lenses might be designed for an image circle much larger than APS-C?

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Michael I certainly don't know what the image circle and performance of the T lenses would be on a 24x36 sensor. I have no interest in using those lenses on a some hypothetical future body anyway. Neither does the T make sense for me as a vehicle for M lenses. I have an M for that. I think the camera concept seems excellent and APSC is perfectly suited to the system as well.

 

I do think that the thread really went off track in any case. The DPReview actually says that the use of software corrections was normal and expected and the controversy seemed to be about what they claimed they had been told. I think that was poorly executed as an article myself although I do regularly use them as a resource. Their Leica content is tiny in any event.

 

Leaving aside the reactions regarding a breach of trust or something by Leica Camera, I was surprised to read that some thread participants didn't seem to understand what level of software corrections is quite usual in many many camera systems simply as part of the image chain. Canon, Nikon, Fujifilm, Sony, Pentax and everyone else as far as I am aware.

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The OP's question is a valid one. The lenses are very expensive if the life of the system is not long, and rather inexpensive if its the opposite. I take that view with M lenses - they are very expensive at the point of outlay, but they have a proven track record of longevity both in terms of endurance, and compatibility.

 

I think to buy a T without one of the dedicated lenses is to miss out on some of the camera's capabilities. But to invest fully in the T system, with more than one lens, it is important to have a sense of how long the lenses will be supported by the T system (and we can only surmise).

 

I had thought that the APS-C sensor was heading for the waste bin in the wake of less expensive 'full frame' sensors. But I no longer think so. APS-C and even M4/3 sensors continue to get used in new cameras and systems, and many (I'm thinking Ming Thein here in particular) hail such systems as preferable for most users on the basis of sufficiency, size and weight. It's a good argument.

 

But when you look at digital's short history, its hard to see past a very short horizon.

 

I would rather look at a T system investment as a tentative one - buy what you need and get the most out of using it. Re-sale on the lenses will probably be decent in the short to mid term, even if the T body drops quickly. But I doubt it will be like buying M lenses, where after 20 years you might sell them for more (in cash) than you paid new!

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it seems to me that full frame will become less and less of a fetish (and when people see how big the telephoto lenses for the A7 turn out to be! There's not much point in saving 300gm on a camera body if you are forced to use 3kg lenses!

 

I'm not sure why you think "full frame" is a fetish, Jono, but I agree that an entirely new camera system should not be beholden to any specific format size. That said, having only two native lenses and an M adaptor available means that "35mm full frame" M mount lenses will be used to fill the gaps and it is inevitable therefore that the sensor size of the T will be judged on those terms. The argument about the size of telephotos is very well rehearsed and is trotted out every time a new "crop frame" system is announced (though curiously the telephoto lenses usually end up not much smaller than the equivalent full frame equivalents, if they appear at all).

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I'm not sure why you think "full frame" is a fetish, Jono, but I agree that an entirely new camera system should not be beholden to any specific format size. That said, having only two native lenses and an M adaptor available means that "35mm full frame" M mount lenses will be used to fill the gaps and it is inevitable therefore that the sensor size of the T will be judged on those terms. The argument about the size of telephotos is very well rehearsed and is trotted out every time a new "crop frame" system is announced (though curiously the telephoto lenses usually end up not much smaller than the equivalent full frame equivalents, if they appear at all).

 

Hi Ian

I don't think it's a fetish around here - but you should try going to some Sony forums!

 

As for telephoto lenses just compare the the Olympus 75-300 µ43 to an equivalent 150-600 Nikon lens . . . . . or even an 80-400 - believe me, when you start using them there is a BIG difference. Olympus 75mm f1.8 to a Sony 135 f2 .

 

all the best

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Personally, as sensor quality improves, it seems to me that full frame will become less and less of a fetish

 

I wonder if one day there will be large, super-resolution screens that would make me wish I had used a Leica S instead of anything smaller. (I should live so long!)

.

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As for telephoto lenses just compare the the Olympus 75-300 µ43 to an equivalent 150-600 Nikon lens . . . . . or even an 80-400 - believe me, when you start using them there is a BIG difference. Olympus 75mm f1.8 to a Sony 135 f2 .

 

Four Thirds though, aren't they? Once you get into APS sizes, the size savings doesn't seem so large. At least that's the impression I get (which might be unfair because I don't really follow what's going on with mirrorless systems, etc.). In any case, that doesn't address the crop-frame "problem" I mentioned when using M mount lenses (which comprise the vast majority of lenses available to the system).

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Four Thirds though, aren't they? Once you get into APS sizes, the size savings doesn't seem so large. At least that's the impression I get (which might be unfair because I don't really follow what's going on with mirrorless systems, etc.). In any case, that doesn't address the crop-frame "problem" I mentioned when using M mount lenses (which comprise the vast majority of lenses available to the system).

 

For an equivalent quailty lens there's still a pretty big difference in size.

 

Of course, crop sensor is a different issue - on the other hand, if you're using the T as a second system next to an M, then it's pretty nice using the 135 as 200mm f3.4 and the Noctilux as a 75 f0.95 - it least, I think it's fun!

 

All the best

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[...] on the other hand, if you're using the T as a second system next to an M, then it's pretty nice using the 135 as 200mm f3.4 and the Noctilux as a 75 f0.95 - it least, I think it's fun!

 

Fun, indeed!

 

An aside: a telecompressor, also called a focal reducer, would increase lens speed. Such a device optically reduces coverage, 'fitting', for example a full-frame lens' image onto a smaller sensor. Imagine a Noctilux with a telecompressor behind it!

.

Edited by pico

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