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Is there a non-Leica lens that compared to the 280mm f4 APO?


JeTexas
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If you are going to lose AF anyway by using a non 'native' body on the lens it is an advantage when the lens is designed for accurate MF operation. This is the case for all Leica lenses and only for a few (older) Nikon and Canon lenses IMO. AF lenses are generally not as easy to use with MF, even when they allow MF operation.

 

Why not buy the APO Telyt 280/F2.8 first version which is rather affordable compared to the second version. Leica did a great job on the ergonomics of this monster (weight and size).

If not it would have been impossible to use it withoud tripod, but now it can be done.

 

If you want to go more compact, the 250mm F4.5 is also very good value for money.

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Je - just a reminder that a lot of the lenses you mention in regards to color fringing are pushing 40-50 years old:

 

400 f/6.8 - technically released in 1970, but DDD used one to photograph the 1968 political conventions - in B&W. David Douglas Duncan

135 f/2.8 (R and M) - last redesign 1968

80-200 (Minolta) - 1974

 

Good chromatic corrections in long lenses really only began to appear in the 1980s (Nikkor ED, very late Canon L FD, or the earlier fluorite 300). Leica led the way by 5 years with the 180 APO-Telyt (1975) - but that was originally a "mil-spec" lens, not immediately available to the public. Mirror lenses, with minimal use of refractive elements, were the way to go for relatively CA-free tele imaging prior to that (but had their own issues).

 

(Edit - Guess I should include the Zeiss Superachromat 250mm as another pathfinder for clean tele imaging - dates to the Apollo space program).

 

I have two other recommendations for a manual APO lens - depending on exactly what you are trying to do. Cheaper than the 280 f/4.

 

APO-Telyt 280 f/2.8 - they tend to run about 1/2 the price of the f/4 (massive to carry) Leica APO-Telyt-R 2.8 / 280mm review

 

I'm sure wildlightphoto can compare and contrast this 1984 280 APO to the f/4 version. I notice dpitt also mentions it as I am writing.

 

180 APO-Telyt f/3.4 + a really good seven-element 1.4x converter = "252mm f/4.8" with very good CA correction.

 

Attached is with the 180 APO f/3.4 + Kenko Pro 300 1.4x converter wide-open (Canon 5D II). With some crops to show the lack of CA/fringing in and out of the plane of focus. (Resolution is compromised somewhat, naturally, by jpg-ing and Canon's AA filter - or I may have just missed focus by a foot or so).

Edited by adan
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Good chromatic corrections in long lenses really only began to appear in the 1980s (Nikkor ED, very late Canon L FD, or the earlier fluorite 300).

 

The original 300mm f/4.5 Nikkor*ED (pre-IF) is quite a good lens, with some ergonomic shortcomings. (IMHO the ergonomic design of the 280/4 should be included in a description of its strengths.) The pre-IF 300mm f/4.5 ED is rather scarce; the minimum focus is 13' and the non-IF design makes focussing cumbersome but the image detail and color quality are quite good.

 

Comparing the early 280/2.8 with the 280/4, the 2.8 shows harsher bokeh, its zone of sharp image detail does not extend to the edges of a 24x36mm sensor, it doesn't focus as close and I found the tripod collar's hard 90-degree stops to be an annoyance.

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I tested a 280mm f2.8 and found it really heavy. I'm not sure I can carry around that beast. I also probably waited to long to buy one since I was seeing them for $2k - $2500 a year ago. Now the speculators seem to be snatching them up and re-listing them on eBay for $3500 - $4k.

 

I almost jumped on one a few weeks ago. National Camera Exchange had one listed for $2500 with a warning about glass separation in the description. A week later I saw the same lens listed by a new seller for $4k -- no details regarding the glass.

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The original 300mm f/4.5 Nikkor*ED (pre-IF) is quite a good lens, with some ergonomic shortcomings. (IMHO the ergonomic design of the 280/4 should be included in a description of its strengths.) The pre-IF 300mm f/4.5 ED is rather scarce; the minimum focus is 13' and the non-IF design makes focussing cumbersome but the image detail and color quality are quite good.

 

Comparing the early 280/2.8 with the 280/4, the 2.8 shows harsher bokeh, its zone of sharp image detail does not extend to the edges of a 24x36mm sensor, it doesn't focus as close and I found the tripod collar's hard 90-degree stops to be an annoyance.

 

Curiously, the 280/2.8's bokeh improves when the APO-Extender-R 1.4X is attached. Regarding image detail at the edges of a full frame, I'd agree with you if it's being shot on a Sony A7, A7r, or a Canon 6D. On my M240 it appears to be sharp everywhere in the frame wide open.

 

As I've never mounted this lens on a tripod, the collar isn't a problem for me. In fact, the shape of the collar makes it fairly easy to hold while using my little finger to focus. I'd gladly give up the extra stop and the extra kilogram for the 280/4.0, but the weight hasn't stopped me from carrying it in the field for 5 or 6 hours on many occasions. The image quality rewards the effort.

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Thanks to the strong dollar I found a deal on a 280mm f2.8 APO with the 2X APO adapter out of Italy. Hopefully this settles all my telephoto needs and wants for a while.

 

I would say: Thanks to the weak €

If you want a very good, universal usable tele lens without paying a fortune, it is a good choice, as long the lens is optically and mechanically without issue. I strongly recommend a good matching 1.4x TC.

I bought one last year on eBay for 1950 €, was misaligned, scratches inside, Seller paid Leica bill, I tested 1 week. Image quality very good wide open, with 1.4x TC no noticeable drop in IQ! very clean colours, very tiny CA, but not as crisp as the 4/280mm or 2.8/400mm Modul, stopping down no significant difference. I did not keep it, gave it back to the seller, was later sold on eBay with Leica certificate for ridiculous 1650 €.

The reasons I did not keep:

1. for any situation I have a (little) better choice: for Macro the 2.8/100mm, for close/medium distance the 4/280mm, for bokeh the 2/180mm, for long range the 2.8/400mm pre-module and module, for low light the 2/180 and 2.8/400 module with Speed booster = 1.4/125mm and 2/280mm!

So, I just wouldn't use it!

2. The lens has no grip, but it is too bulky to carry it safely with one hand: You have to hold it with both hands, no hand left to grab the camera, tripod ..., I can easily and safely handle the 6 kg 400mm Module with one hand because a proper grip!

3. There are reports about issues with focus, glass, LCS might not be able to repair/replace.

4. Scratches inside will become a problem if reselling.

 

But if your copy is healthy, you will enjoy the image Quality!

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Got the 280mm f2.8 APO, it was in great shape and gave me some beautiful shots this weekend. I've just got one question, why does it have the ability to focus past infinity? I've also run into this issue on a Canon FD 500mm reflex.

 

Was there some use for this? I find it kind of irritating because when lenses have the hard stop at infinity you don't have to spend time focusing on distant objects, you can just kick the barrel around to the stopping point.

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... you can just kick the barrel around to the stopping point.

Fred, I'm going to have to report you to the SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to APO lenses)!

 

Glad you've got the 280/2.8 APO and you're enjoying it.

 

Pete.

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I'm loving the results, but I'm going to have huge forearms from carrying this thing around.. Here's one from the 280mm APO Telyt f2.8 with the 1.4X APO adapter.

 

The babies are here by ffacker, on Flickr
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Right now I'm shooting these lenses on a Sony NEX-6. I'm leaning towards the Nikon lenses as they kept the aperture control on the lens up until the G series. With Canon you have to buy an expensive adapter for aperture control unless you go all the way back to the FD lenses, which really can't compare to the Leica lenses I already have.

 

Why not use Nikon G lenses as well?

There are adapters with a pin that can adjust the aperture.

I use the camera light meter to adjust to the correct f-number.

No problem at all.

 

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I also have NEX-6 and I have compared R 80-200 f/4 with Voigtlander 180 APO f/4 Lanthar (in Nikon mount). The later is superior (on both Nex-6 and M240) with better bokeh and close focusing distance. Less weight is a plus too. 

 

I do see that OP has already bought R 280 f/2.8 but has mentioned the weight of the lens. Lanthar weighs just one lb and easy to carry in the field. Only problem is that it is too short for any bird shooting. For birds, I use R 400 f/6.8. For now the results are satisfactory to me (it is just a hobby to me). I do need something better then I will go for naive stabilized system in Sony or a DSLR.

Edited by jmahto
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With the three Canon 5D bodies I have had to date (5D, Mk II and Mk III) the Telyt 280/4 lens hasn't produced any fringe with or without the converter Apo x1,4. It's the best telephoto lens I have ever used. The Nikkor 300/4,5 ED (no AF) has less definition although it has good constrast. When used in the hands its handling is rather more difficult than the Telyt 280/4.

 

Regards

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I have seen the fringes when using the 400mm f/6.8 Telyt. The only time I've seen color fringes when using the 280/4 APO is when I combine it with the 2x APO extender. All the photos on my website made in the last two years (and most for the last ten years) were made with the 280mm f/4 APO. It's such an important part of my work that I bought a backup copy.Photographs of North American birds and mammals by Douglas Herr

What body do you use with your 4/280 APO?

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  • 4 months later...

Following up on this older thread, I wanted a lens to use in place of the 280mm f/4 APO-Telyt-R when the 280's weight is too much of a burden or the risk (in my estimation) of loss or damage is unacceptably high.  I wanted a lens that can be used on a mirrorless camera, shows little or no chromatic aberration and shows acceptable bokeh and image detail.  AF means little to me so the choices are many.

 

I've begun evaluating the Canon FD 300mm f/4 L and my report follows:

 

Optically it's not an APO Telyt but not bad.  It has some lateral chromatic aberration which can be fixed in Photoshop with about +15 green/magenta correction.  Once that's corrected detail to the corners of the picture is excellent.  I haven't compared color quality yet; my experience with other late-FD Canon lenses is they need some clarity and saturation to come close to the 280 APO's colors.  Bokeh isn't always buttery smooth but no really ugly stuff has appeared either.

 
Other stuff: The tripod collar's rotation and minimum focus distance aren't nearly as nice as the 280.  The hood's lock in the extended position is a handy feature.  The front cap doesn't stay on.  Filters are difficult to find.
 
Canon FD 300mm f/4 L weight 1 kg, market value about $400
Leica 280mm f/4 APO-Telyt-R weight 1.6 kg, market value $4500 - 5000
 
Bottom line for me: With some PS work the Canon's image quality can be quite good and where weight and risk of loss or damage are paramount importance it's a usable alternative to the 280 APO.
 
Note that there was also a non-L lens of the same specs.  In the web-sized jpg files made with the non-L lens chromatic artifacts are clearly evident.  YMMV.
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Erwin Puts, in his old lens book, rates this lens a bit higher than you do, calling it "close to the Leica [280 Apo-Teltyt 4.0] lens in performance" Could it be that yours needs a clean? Personally I have used both in the past, but as I used the Canon on a Canon digital body and the Telyt on film, there is no way I can compare.

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